The NFL is hoping their ‘new and improved’ 2023 Pro Bowl Games format helps solve a growing issue for the league – that being the obvious lack of fan interest in the annual Pro Bowl. Fans have been vocal about their distaste for the old format, which limited contact and disrupted the normal flow of the game.
While the new format won’t feature any tackling, it will feature an intense game of flag football with some of the best players in the league – as well as a slew of skills competitions to keep things interesting. Peyton Manning will be the head coach of the AFC, while Eli Manning will be head coach of the NFC.
The skills competition is being held at Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin, NV on February 2, 2023, while the flag football game will be held at Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, NV on February 5, 2023 – it will be broadcast on ESPN, Disney XD, and ABC with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman expected to call the game
Which Players Will Be Featured at the 2023 NFL Pro Bowl Games?
Fan voting for the Pro Bowl Games began on November 15th and the rosters were announced one month later on December 21st. There are 88 players selected to the Pro Bowl every year – 44 players in each conference – with roster selections being determined by fans, coaches, and even the players themselves.
Earning a spot in the Pro Bowl Games is one of the highest honors an individual player can receive in a single season – some of the others being the end-of-season awards and, of course, a Super Bowl ring. Being in the Pro Bowl means you were among the top 1-3 players at your position in your conference.
While there will always be several players snubbed from the Pro Bowl Games’ roster – especially when you consider all the superstars in the league today – fans should be rather pleased about this year’s roster. It leaves a few names out, but let’s take a look at which players made it in each conference.
AFC Roster for Pro Bowl Games
The AFC Pro Bowl Games’ Roster is dominated by the Kansas City Chiefs (7 players) and Baltimore Ravens (6 players), who hold a combined 13 of 44 roster spots. The Buffalo Bills and New York Jets each have 4 players, while the Bengals, Browns, Raiders, Titans, Dolphins, and Chargers have 3 players each.
The only AFC team not being represented at the Pro Bowl is the Jacksonville Jaguars. Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Christian Kirk, Josh Allen, and Foyesade Oluokun had good seasons for Jacksonville, but it wasn’t enough to earn a Pro Bowl spot. With that said, let’s see which AFC players made the cut!
Players: Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs), Josh Allen (Bills), Joe Burrow (Bengals)
Looking at the AFC, there aren’t many quarterbacks who deserve a shot at the Pro Bowl outside these three players – Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Joe Burrow. You can make a case for Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa, and Trevor Lawrence, but they’re not on the same level as the other three.
Mahomes leads the NFL in passing yards (5,048 yards) and passing touchdowns (40 TDs), which is why he’s listed as the Pro Bowl starter. Joe Burrow (34 TDs) and Josh Allen (32 TDs) are second and third in passing touchdowns, with both QBs also surpassing 4,000 yards on the year. They’ve been electric.
Running Backs: Nick Chubb (Browns), Derrick Henry (Titans), Josh Jacobs (Raiders)
Fullback: Patrick Ricard (Ravens)
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine who the best three running backs are in the AFC. Josh Jacobs (1,608 rushing yards), Nick Chubb (1,448 rushing yards), and Derrick Henry (1,429 rushing yards) aren’t just the top-3 backs in rushing yards in the AFC, but in the entire NFL – the NFC included.
Jacobs and Chubb each have 12 rushing touchdowns, while Henry leads the AFC with 13 rushing touchdowns. While Jacobs has more yards and Henry has more touchdowns, Chubb is listed as the Pro Bowl starter after receiving more votes than the other two, who will enter the Pro Bowl as backups.
Players: Stefon Diggs (Bills), Tyreek Hill (Dolphins), Davante Adams (Raiders), Ja’Marr Chase (Bengals)
The AFC has a lot of talented wide receivers that could make a case for the Pro Bowl, but that list ultimately comes down to four primary names that stand above the rest – Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, and Ja’Marr Chase. These players are no strangers to putting up big numbers nightly.
Hill has put up an impressive 117 catches and 1,687 yards, while Diggs has already secured 101 catches for 1,325 yards and 10 TDs – they’re both listed as Pro Bowl starters. Adams leads the league with 14 touchdowns and has 1,443 yards to go with that, while Chase has 960 yards despite missing time.
Players: Travis Kelce (Chiefs), Mark Andrews (Ravens)
Looking at the tight ends in the AFC today, there are only two that are truly deserving of Pro Bowl honors – Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews. They’re the equivalent of a No. 1 receiver and can be relied upon every single time they take the field. Kelce, who leads all tight ends in yards and TDs, is listed as starter.
While Kelce is the clear breadwinner here with 104 catches for 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns, you can’t overlook Andrews’ 73 catches for 847 yards and 5 touchdowns. Other tight ends in the AFC worth mentioning include Cole Kmet of the Chicago Bears and Pat Freiermuth of the PIttsburgh Steelers.
Centers: Creed Humphrey (Chiefs), Mitch Morse (Bills)
Guards: Joel Bitonio (Browns), Quenton Nelson (Colts), Joe Thuney (Chiefs)
Tackles: Terron Armstead (Dolphins), Laremy Tunsil (Texans), Orlando Brown (Chiefs)
Taking a look at the starting offensive lineman, it’s refreshing to see players from five different teams represented – the Chiefs, Browns, Dolphins, Colts, and Texans. What’s even more surprising is only one of those teams is a sure bet for the playoffs (Chiefs). Creed Humphrey is the youngest at 23 years old.
The Chiefs have three of their five starters in the Pro Bowl, which goes to show just how important the position is to a team’s success – the Chiefs are 13-3 and have a shot at a No. 1 seed in the AFC. It’s safe to say Mahomes, Allen, and Burrow will be well-protected during the Pro Bowl flag football game.
Defensive Ends: Maxx Crosby (Raiders), Myles Garrett (Browns), Trey Hendrickson (Bengals)
Interior Linemen: Chris Jones (Chiefs), Quinnen Williams (Jets), Jeffery Simmons (Titans)
The AFC defensive line is built tough, starting with Maxx Crosby (11.5 sacks) and Myles Garrett (15.0 sacks) on the ends. Trey Hendrickson (6.0 sacks) is listed as a backup defensive end. Together, these three players have 41 tackles for loss and seven forced fumbles – they know how to get the job done.
As for the interior, the AFC is rolling with Chris Jones (13.0 sacks) and Quinnen Williams (12.0 sacks) as the starters, and Jeffery Simmons (7.5 sacks) as the backup. Together, these three have 36 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles. That’s a scary looking defensive front if you ask me – what do you think?
Outside Linebackers: Matthew Judon (Patriots), Khalil Mack (Chargers), T.J. Watt (Steelers)
Inside Linebackers: Roquan Smith (Ravens), C.J. Mosley (Jets)
Moving on to the linebackers, the AFC is clearly loaded with talent. Matthew Judon has a career-high 15.5 sacks this season, while Khalil Mack and T.J. Watt have combined for 13.0 sacks of their own. With nearly 30 sacks between these 3 outside linebackers, the NFC offense is going to have their hands full.
As for the interior, the AFC has two high-quality players that aren’t just known for their talent, but also their leadership. Roquan Smith has 153 combined tackles this season, despite being traded mid-season. As for C.J. Mosley, he’s once again proving to be the man in New York with 151 total tackles of his own.
Players: Sauce Gardner (Jets), Pat Surtain II (Broncos), Xavien Howard (Dolphins), Marlon Humphrey (Ravens)
The two starting cornerbacks for the AFC are a couple of young studs that have already proven to be two of the best at their position. Sauce Gardner (rookie) is living up to the hype after going No. 4 overall in 2022, while Pat Surtain II is in his second year with the Broncos after going No. 8 overall in 2021.
As for the backups, you’ve got two shutdown corners who are still in their prime – Xavien Howard at 29 years old and Marlon Humphrey at 26 years old. Howard is making his third consecutive Pro Bowl appearance, while Humphrey is making his return to the Pro Bowl after missing the cut last season.
Free Safety: Minkah Fitzpatrick (Steelers)
Strong Safety: Derwin James (Chargers)
Minkah Fitzpatrick was chosen as the starting free safety for the 2023 Pro Bowl Games. He’s in his fifth season after being selected No. 11 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. He has 19 career interceptions, including a career-high six interceptions this season, and is making his third Pro Bowl appearance.
As for the strong safety, the AFC will have none other than Derwin James in the lineup. He’s in his fourth season after being selected No. 17 overall in the same draft as Fitzpatrick. He has 7 career interceptions, including two interceptions this season, and is making his third Pro Bowl appearance (second straight).
Punter: Tommy Townsend (Chiefs)
Kicker: Justin Tucker (Ravens)
Long Snapper: Morgan Cox (Titans)
Return Specialist: Devin Duvernay (Ravens)
Special Teamer: Justin Hardee (Jets)
The special teams players might not be the most popular players on the field, but they’re some of the most important and they deserve all the credit in the world – especially this group of guys representing the AFC this year. To no one’s surprise, 2 of the 5 players come from a very stout Baltimore Ravens’ squad.
Justin Tucker is the most accurate kicker of all-time and Devin Duvernay is one of four players with a kickoff return TD this year. Tommy Townsend is averaging more than 50 yards per punt, Morgan Cox is making his fifth Pro Bowl appearance, and Justin Hardee is making his first Pro Bowl appearance.
NFC Pro Bowl Games Roster
To no one’s surprise, the NFC Pro Bowl Games’ roster is dominated by the four most dominant teams in the conference – the Philadelphia Eagles (8 players), Dallas Cowboys (7 players), San Francisco 49ers (6 players), and Minnesota Vikings (5 players). They shared 26 of the 44 roster spots (more than half).
The Washington Commanders and Seattle Seahawks each had a respectable 4 players, while the New York Giants were the only other NFC team with multiple players – they had 2. The Chicago Bears were the lone NFC team without representation at the Pro Bowl. Here’s a look at those that made the cut!
Players: Jalen Hurts (Eagles), Kirk Cousins (Vikings), Geno Smith (Seahawks)
At the beginning of the season, you’d think to see Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Dak Prescott, or maybe even Kyler Murray up here. Instead, we have Jalen Hurts, Kirk Cousins, and Geno Smith – not the trio we expected, but definitely the three most deserving QBs in the conference.
Hurts is having a career year with 3,472 yards passing, 747 yards rushing, and 35 total touchdowns with a 13-1 record. Cousins has thrown a lot of interceptions, but has 4,322 yards passing to go along with 28 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Geno has been the surprise we needed this year helping keep Seattle relevant.
Running Backs: Saquon Barkley (Giants), Tony Pollard (Cowboys), Miles Sanders (Eagles)
Fullback: Kyle Juszczyk (49ers)
Alright, Saquon Barkley and Miles Sanders are the two clear bets here – they’ve been next level this season and are in the top-five of 2023 alongside Jacobs, Chubb, and Henry from the AFC. And while Tony Pollard is a good No. 3 here, you can also make a case for a slew of other NFC running backs.
For example, you could consider Christian McCaffrey, Aaron Jones, or Jamaal Williams for the No. 3 spot – but Pollard has been just as exciting and efficient. And while the NFC features a very talented trio of running backs, it’s not as elite as the AFC – so it’ll make for an interesting matchup in the Pro Bowl.
Players: Justin Jefferson (Vikings), A.J. Brown (Eagles), Ceedee Lamb (Cowboys), Terry McLaurin (Commanders)
The NFC will be represented by the best wide receiver in the NFL right now, Justin Jefferson – with A.J. Brown acting as the other starter. When you pin these two receivers up against Diggs and Hill from the AFC, you have yourself quite the stalemate as all four of them are dominant in their own, unique way.
Jefferson has 124 catches for 1,771 yards and 8 TDs this year, while Brown boasts 84 catches for 1,401 yards and 11 touchdowns. They’ll be joined by Ceede Lamb (102 catches, 1,307 yards, 8 TDs) and Terry McLaurin (74 catches, 1,117 yards, 4 TDs) – not as good of a duo as the AFC’s Adams and Chase.
Players: George Kittle (49ers), T.J. Hockenson (Vikings)
George Kittle missed the first two games of the season and, despite having seven games with less than 30 yards, he has three multi-touchdown games, 9 total TDs on the season, and 5 TDs in the past three games. He has been exactly what the 49ers needed with all the uncertainty they have at the QB position.
Featuring alongside Kittle is T.J. Hockenson, who was a victim of the trade deadline and was dealt by the Detroit Lions to the Minnesota Vikings – who were in desperate need of a tight end. After just 26 catches for 395 yards and 3 TDs with the Lions, he has 59 catches for 503 yards and 3 TDs with Minnesota.
Centers: Jason Kelce (Eagles), Frank Ragnow (Lions)
Guards: Zack Martin (Cowboys), Landon Dickerson (Eagles), Chris Lindstrom (Falcons)
Tackles: Lane Johnson (Eagles), Trent Williams (49ers), Tristan Wirfs (Buccaneers)
Looking at the starting five offensive lineman for the NFC, you’ve definitely got yourself five of the best in the game at their position and it’s certainly no surprise to see 3/5 starters representing the Eagles. Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, and Landon Dickerson are a large reason why Philadelphia is 13-3 right now.
With two other starting slots remaining, it’s only right to see Trent Williams and Zack Martin fill them out – they have 18 Pro Bowl appearances between the two of them. As for the backups, you’ve got three talented young offensive linemen in Frank Ragnow (26), Tristan Wirfs (23), and Chris Lindstrom (25).
Defensive Ends: Nick Bosa (49ers), Brian Burns (Panthers), Demarcus Lawrence (Cowboys)
Interior Linemen: Jonathan Allen (Commanders), Aaron Donald (Rams), Dexter Lawrence (Giants)
Moving on to the defense, you can’t get much better than the NFC up front. The starting defensive ends are Nick Bosa (league-leading 17.5 sacks) and Brian Burns (career-high 12.5 sacks) – with Demarcus Lawrence (3 forced fumbles, 1 return TD) making his third Pro Bowl appearance (first since 2018).
As for the interior, the NFC is rolling with Jonathan Allen (7.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss) and Aaron Donald (5.0 sacks, 10 tackles for loss) as its starters. Dexter Lawrence (7.5 sacks, 7 tackles for loss) is having himself a career year and will be making the first Pro Bowl appearance of his young career.
Outside Linebackers: Micah Parsons (Cowboys), Za’Darius Smith (Vikings), Haason Reddick (Eagles)
Inside Linebackers: Fred Warner (49ers), Demario Davis (Saints)
The NFC is loaded at linebacker, there’s no other way to put it. Micah Parsons (13.0 sacks) and Haason Reddick (16.0 sacks) are both in the top-five in sacks this season – in the entire NFL. Meanwhile, Za’Darius Smith (10.0 sacks) is one of just 18 players with double-digit sacks through 16 games.
On the interior, the NFC is rolling with Fred Warner as their starter. In 16 games, he has 122 tackles, 2.0 sacks, and 1 interception – he’ll be making his second Pro Bowl appearance. His backup will be Demario Davis, who has 101 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 1 INT, and 9 tackles for loss in his 11th season in the NFL.
Players: Trevon Diggs (Cowboys), Darius Slay (Eagles), Jaire Alexander (Packers), Tariq Woolen (Seahawks)
Trevon Diggs might not be close to the 11 interceptions he had last season – he has 3 so far this season – but he’s still one of the most feared cornerbacks in the league. He’ll be a starter for the NFC, alongside another shutdown corner in Darius Slay. Much like his counterpart, Slay has three interceptions this year.
With that said, let’s talk about the two backups for the NFC. After catching five interceptions through his first four seasons, Jaire Alexander already has five interceptions this year alone. As for the rookie Tariq Woolen, he’s currently tied for the league lead with 6 interceptions and has even returned one for a TD.
Free Safety: Quandre Diggs (Seahawks)
Strong Safety: Budda Baker (Cardinals), Talanoa Hufanga (49ers)
After having five interceptions in each of the past two seasons, Quandre Diggs has just three this season – a respectable number with one game remaining. He’s making his third consecutive appearance in the Pro Bowl since joining the Seattle Seahawks via trade in 2019. It seems he has found himself a home.
At strong safety, the NFC will have none other than Budda Baker as their starter and Talanoa Hufanga as their backup. Baker is making his fifth Pro Bowl appearance (fourth consecutive), while Hufanga is making his first Pro Bowl appearance in just his second season – he was a fifth round draft pick in 2021.
Punter: Tress Way (Commanders)
Kicker: Jason Myers (Seahawks)
Long Snapper: Andrew DePaola (Vikings)
Return Specialist: KaVontae Turpin (Cowboys)
Special Teamer: Jeremy Reaves (Commanders)
And finally, we conclude with the NFC special teams squad – which consists of two players representing the Washington Commanders. Tress Way (34 punts inside the 20) is making his second Pro Bowl appearance, while Jeremy Reaves (16 special teams tackles) will make his first Pro Bowl appearance.
At kicker, the NFC is rolling with Jason Myers – who has made 30 of his 32 field goal attempts this season, including all 6 of his attempts from beyond 50 yards. He’s also 40 of 41 with extra points. Meanwhile, KaVontae Turpin has shown off his explosive abilities on both kickoff and punt returns.
Are You Ready for the 2023 NFL Pro Bowl Games?
The 2023 Pro Bowl Games is going to be unlike any other and when you look at the rosters for each conference, you can’t help but get excited. With plenty of talent at each position, it’ll be interesting to see how the NFL showcases it on a national stage – especially if they want to regain interest from the fans.
What makes this year’s Pro Bowl extra exciting is the amount of young talent it features. For example, four of the six quarterbacks are under the age of 27 and there are plenty of others just starting their careers – Quinnen Williams, Sauce Gardner, Justin Jefferson, Micah Parsons, and Trevon Diggs.
At this point, the Pro Bowl Games are still an entire month away and we still have the regular season to finish. With plenty of playoff hopes and seeding situations to figure out, the next two weeks are going to be fun as we prepare for the big dance – the Super Bowl. It’s our favorite time of the year!
All the Award Winners at the 2023 NFL Honors
Honoring some of the best players, coaches, performances, and moments from the 2022 NFL season, the 2023 NFL Honors was one to remember for a variety of reasons. It aired on NBC and the NFL Network (and streamed on Peacock) on February 9th at the Phoenix Symphony Hall in Phoenix, Arizona.
It was the 12th edition of the event and was hosted by Kelly Clarkson, who became the first woman to ever host it – previous hosts include Keegan-Michael Key (2022, 2017), Steve Harvey (2019-2021), Rob Riggle (2018), Conan O’Brien (2016), Seth Meyers (2015), and Alec Baldwin (2012-2014).
All of the most prestigious awards are handed out during the event – such as the MVP, Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year, Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, and the incoming Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2023. It makes for must-see TV.
Who Were All the Winners at the 2023 NFL Honors?
Before we get into the awards at the 2023 NFL Honors, I want to first highlight one of the biggest winners of the night – Damar Hamlin. While he didn’t receive an award, he received the greatest gift of all just six weeks ago when he survived one of the scariest moments we’ve ever seen during a live NFL game.
The Buffalo Bills’ safety collapsed and suffered cardiac arrest during their Week 17 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, but is here today to tell the tale. He made an emotional speech at the 2023 NFL Honors and was surrounded by all the medical staffers that helped save his life over the past six weeks.
“My vision was about playing in the NFL, and being the best player I could be. But God’s plan was to have a purpose greater than any game in this world,” he said. “I have a long journey ahead. A journey full of unknowns, and a journey full of milestones. But it’s a lot easier to face your fears when you know your purpose.”
With that said, let’s take a look at all the players and coaches who were honored with an award on this special night!
20. Hall of Fame Class of 2023
Every year, the NFL inducts a new class of legendary players into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Last year, the Class of 2022 included the likes of OT Tony Boselli, WR Cliff Branch, S LeRoy Butler, DL Bryant Young, LB Sam Mills, DL Richard Seymour, coach Dick Vermeil, and official Art McNally.
This year, the Class of 2023 included the likes of DB Ronde Barber, LB Chuck Howley, DL Joe Klecko, CB Darrelle Revis, CB Ken Riley, OT Joe Thomas, LB Zach Thomas, and coach Don Coryell. Of the nine inductees this year, Revis and Thomas were the only two elected in their first year of eligibility.
19. NFL Fan of the Year
Larry Bevans grew up in a house full of San Francisco 49ers’ fans – but not him. Being the youngest of his siblings, he decided to go against his family’s norm and became a fan of the Seattle Seahawks. That fandom quickly turned into a passion and by 2009, he became a season ticket holder for the first time.
Bevans has been a season ticket holder ever since. He takes it upon himself to give back to his community, travels from across the country just to root the Seahawks on every week, and is a passionate foster parent that deserves the recognition he received as the one-and-only 2023 NFL Fan of the Year.
18. Next Gen Stats Moment of the Year
The Minnesota Vikings matched up against the Buffalo Bills during Week 10 of the regular season. The Vikings were 7-1 entering the game, while the Bills were 6-2 – it was a big game for both teams and it didn’t disappoint. With two minutes left in the fourth quarter, things started to get real interesting.
The Bills were up 27-23, but Minnesota was driving. They needed a touchdown, which means they needed a big play – and they got one. Kirk Cousins threw the ball up and Justin Jefferson brought it down for 32 yards. They went on to score a TD and ended up winning the game 33-30 in overtime.
17. Art Rooney Award
The Art Rooney Award is an award handed out annually to a player that exemplifies sportsmanship on the football field. It was first introduced in 2014 with Larry Fitzgerald winning it and has been given to some very special players – including Frank Gore (2016), Luke Kuechly (2017), and Drew Brees (2018).
The 2022 winner is Calais Campbell – defensive end for the Baltimore Ravens. He’s one of the NFL’s most respected players, not just by fans, but by coaches, players, front office members, and league executives. He’s always looking to make a difference in his community and is as selfless as they come.
16. Jim Brown Award
The Jim Brown Award is an award handed out to the running back who led the league in rushing for that given season. It’s a new award that has never been handed out before this year – if it were, it would’ve gone to Jonathan Taylor in 2021, Derrick Henry in 2020 and 2019, and Ezekiel Elliott in 2018.
In 2022, the award was given to Josh Jacobs of the Las Vegas Raiders, who rushed for a total of 1,653 yards in 17 games – nearly averaging 100 yards per game and setting a new career-high by 503 yards. He beat out Derrick Henry by 115 yards, Nick Chubb by 128 yards, and Saquon Barkley by 341 yards.
15. Deacon Jones Award
The Deacon Jones Award is an annual award handed out to the league leader in sacks for that given season. It was first introduced in 2013, with Robert Mathis winning the inaugural award. Other winners include J.J. Watt, Aaron Donald, Shaquil Barrett, Chandler Jones, and T.J. Watt (twice in a row).
This year’s winner was Nick Bosa of the San Francisco 49ers, who led the NFL with 18.5 sacks in 16 games – a new career-high after having 15.5 sacks in 2021. He beat Haason Reddick with 16.0 sacks, Myles Garrett with 16.0 sacks, Chris Jones with 15.5 sacks, and Matthew Judon with 15.5 sacks.
14. Bud Light Celly of the Year
One of the best things about scoring a touchdown, forcing a turnover, getting a sack, or making any big play in the NFL today is getting to strut your stuff with an entertaining celebration. Also known as the ‘celly,’ the celebration has taken on a new meaning in recent years, which is why there’s an award for it.
The winner of the Bud Light Celly of the Year was the Cincinnati Bengals’ defense, who performed a ‘rollercoaster’ celebration after picking off Ravens’ quarterback Anthony Brown in the first quarter of their Week 18 matchup. Last year’s award went to Christian Wilkins for doing the worm after a TD catch.
13. FedEx Ground Player of the Year
The FedEx Ground Player of the Year is an annual award that is handed out to the league’s most impressive rusher – voted by the fans. It was first awarded in 2003 with past winners including Jonathan Taylor (2021), Derrick Henry (2020, 2019), Saquon Barkley (2018), and Todd Gurley (2017).
To no one’s surprise, the award went to Josh Jacobs of the Las Vegas Raiders – who was also the winner of the Jim Brown Award. His 1,653 yards led the league, but he also ran for 12 touchdowns – tying a career-high for him. Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb were the two other finalists for the award this year.
12. FedEx Air Player of the Year
The FedEx Air Player of the Year is an annual award that is handed out to the league’s most impressive passer – voted on by fans. It was first awarded in 2003 with past winners including Tom Brady (2021), Aaron Rodgers (2020), Lamar Jackson (2019), Patrick Mahomes (2018), and Carson Wentz (2017).
This year’s winner was Patrick Mahomes, who won the award for the second time in his career. He led the league with 5,250 yards – which was nearly 500 yards more than the next closest (Justin Herbert) – and also led the league with 41 passing touchdowns – six more than Joe Burrow and Josh Allen.
11. Salute to Service Award
The Salute to Service Award is an annual award that first debuted 12 seasons ago. According to the NFL, the award ‘acknowledges the exceptional efforts by members of the NFL community to honor and support U.S. service members, veterans and their families.’ Every team in the NFL gets to award a nominee.
Handed out by the NFL and USAA, the 2022 Salute to Service Award winner was Ron Rivera – head coach of the Washington Commanders. Week-in and week-out, coach Rivera sets the standard for military appreciation and is dedicated to helping the community support those that fight for their country.
10. Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year
The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year is an annual award that has been handed out since 1970 – it was renamed in 1999 to honor the great Walter Payton. According to the NFL, it ‘recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field’ and is often awarded to a player deeply respected by the league.
Every team in the NFL gets to nominate a player (32 players in total) who are then voted on by a panel of judges – including past winners, former players, the Commissioner, and more. This year’s winner was Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys – joining Andrew Whitworth, who won the award last season.
9. AP Comeback Player of the Year
The AP Comeback Player of the Year is an annual award handed out by the Associated Press. It normally recognizes a player that missed all or most of the previous season due to injury – or being a backup. In some rare scenarios, it might be awarded to someone who played poorly the year prior, but it depends.
This year’s winner was Geno Smith – who hasn’t spent a full season as a starting quarterback since 2014. Despite only having 5 starts in the NFL since that season, he started all 17 games for the Seattle Seahawks and led them to the playoffs – he also led the NFL in completion percentage among QBs.
8. AP Defensive Rookie of the Year
The AP Defensive Rookie of the Year is an annual award handed out by the Associated Press that recognizes the league’s most impressive rookie on the defensive side of the ball. It has been awarded since 1967 – past winners include Micah Parsons, Chase Young, Nick Bosa, and Shaquille Leonard.
This year’s winner was cornerback Sauce Gardner of the New York Jets. He started all 17 games for the Jets and had 75 total tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, and led the league with 20 passes defensed. Opposing quarterbacks were scared to throw the ball his way because he’s just that good.
7. AP Offensive Rookie of the Year
The AP Offensive Rookie of the Year is an annual award handed out by the Associated Press that recognizes the NFL’s most impressive rookie on the offensive side of the ball. It has been awarded since 1957 – past winners include Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray, and Saquon Barkley.
This year’s winner was wide receiver Garrett Wilson of the New York Jets – joining his teammate, Sauce. He started all 17 games for the Jets and finished the season with 83 catches on 147 targets for 1,103 yards and 4 touchdowns – with questionable quarterback play. Get him a good QB and he’ll do better.
6. Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year
The Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year is an annual award that has been handed out since 2002. A player is awarded Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week each week of the regular season. At the end of the year, several finalists are chosen, depending on who has the most Rookie of the Week wins throughout the season.
This year’s finalists were Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson, Aidan Hutchinson, Kenneth Walker, Chris Olave, and Tariq Woolen. Many people were pulling for Walker or Woolen to win it, but it was Hutchinson who pulled away the winner. He finished the season with 52 tackles, 9.5 sacks, and 9 tackles for loss.
5. AP Defensive Player of the Year
The AP Defensive Player of the Year is an annual award handed out since 1971 and recognizes the league’s most impressive defensive player – as voted on by the Associated Press. Past winners include T.J. Watt, Aaron Donald (three times), Stephon Gilmore, Khalil Mack, and J.J. Watt (three times).
This year’s finalists were Nick Bosa of the 49ers, Micah Parsons of the Cowboys, and Chris Jones of the Chiefs. The winner was Bosa, who not only led the league with 18.5 sacks, but also added 51 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 48 quarterback hits, and one pass defensed in 16 games played. He was dominant.
4. AP Offensive Player of the Year
The AP Offensive Player of the Year is an annual award handed out since 1972 and recognizes the NFL’s most impressive offensive player – as voted on by the Associated Press. Past winners of the award are Cooper Kupp, Derrick Henry, Michael Thomas, Patrick Mahomes, Todd Gurley, and Matt Ryan.
This year’s finalists were Jalen Hurts of the Eagles, Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs, Justin Jefferson of the Vikings, and Tyreek Hill of the Dolphins. Jefferson was a clear winner here, leading the league with 128 receptions and 1,809 yards – he added 8 touchdowns. He’s no doubt the No. 1 receiver in the NFL.
3. AP Assistant Coach of the Year
The AP Assistant Coach of the Year is an annual award handed out since 2014 and recognizes the NFL’s best assistant coach – usually given to an offensive or defensive coordinator, voted on by the Associated Press. Past winners include Dan Quinn, Brian Daboll, Greg Roman, Vic Flangio, and Pat Shurmur.
This year’s finalists include DC DeMeco Ryans of the 49ers, OC Shane Steichen of the Eagles, and OC Ben Johnson of the Lions. Ryans ended up being selected as the winner – he was listed on 48 of the 50 ballots and received 35 first place votes. His 49ers’ defense led the league in points and yards allowed.
2. AP Coach of the Year
The AP Coach of the Year is an annual award handed out since 1957 and recognizes the league’s best head coach – usually given to the coach of a team that either exceeds expectations or has a near-perfect record. Past winners are Mike Vrabel, Kevin Stefanski, John Harbaugh, Matt Nagy, and Sean McVay.
This year’s finalists were Kyle Shanahan of the 49ers, Doug Pederson of the Jaguars, and Brian Daboll of the Giants. Daboll won it after leading the Giants to a 9-7-1 record in his first year as head coach – they made the playoffs. He won the Assistant Coach of the Year award in 2020 with the Bills.
1. AP Most Valuable Player
The AP Most Valuable Player (MVP) is an annual award handed out since 1957 and recognizes the NFL’s most impressive player – period. With Patrick Mahomes winning it for the second time in his career, a quarterback has now won it each year for the past 10 seasons – Peyton Manning won it a total 5 times.
Mahomes finished the season with 5,250 passing yards, 41 passing touchdowns, and 12 interceptions – adding 358 rushing yards and 4 rushing touchdowns. He led his team to a 14-3-0 record, tying a career-high for most wins in a season, and ended up winning a title. He also won the award in 2018.
Other Notable Moments During the 2023 NFL Honors
The 2023 NFL Honors had no shortage of memorable moments. Kelly Clarkson did an incredible job as the host and had a hilarious opening monologue that lasted roughly six minutes. She called Joe Burrow a TikTok rapper and was equipped with countless jokes about her favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys.
There was also a point where Kirk Cousins and Kelly Clarkson sang a tribute song to Tom Brady, who announced his retirement recently (again) – and, yes, they song was played to the beat of Clarkson’s hit song ‘Since U Been Gone.’ Then, George Kittle chimed in with some lyrics for his 49ers’ teammates.
The 2023 NFL Honors didn’t disappoint and it was followed by an incredible Super Bowl LVII a few days later. The Kansas City Chiefs won their second Super Bowl in four years in a 38-35 thriller over the Philadelphia Eagles – Patrick Mahomes ended up winning his second Super Bowl MVP in the process.
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