Football Team

Clubhouse Leader: Looking at the NFL award races after Week 7

Football Team

Throughout the 2021 NFL season, NBC Sports Washington's Ethan Cadeaux will follow all of the NFL's award races as part of the Leader in the Clubhouse series. Here, he looks where each award race stands after Week 7.

Week 7 of the NFL season is in the books!

Six teams were on bye in Week 7, meaning a lot of players in the thick of the NFL's award races were off this past weekend. Still, there were a handful of guys who had excellent performances in Week 7 to boost their cases, including Derrick Henry, Tom Brady and Ja'Marr Chase.

Here are the betting favorites for each NFL award, the best bets for each honor and analysis for every award race (all odds are provided by NBC Sports partner, PointsBet USA). For our NBA fans, we have you covered at the beginning of every week here.

Without further ado...

Most Valuable Player

Betting favorite: Kyler Murray (+375)

Best bet: Kyler Murray (+375), Derrick Henry (+2000)

Keep an eye on: Matt Stafford (+700)

Another week, another Arizona win. The Cardinals blew out Houston, 31-5, on Sunday, as Kyler Murray dazzled once again with a three-touchdown performance.

Murray's club is 7-0. He's as electrifying as any quarterback in the NFL and is quietly one of the league's better pure passers now, too. The Cardinals are the feel-good surprise story of the NFL thus far and Murray is the clear favorite for league MVP through seven weeks.

 

Murray has been great, but it's time to stop talking about the MVP award without mentioning Derrick Henry. The Titans star running back is on pace for another 2,000-yard season and has helped Tennessee to consecutive wins over AFC heavyweights Buffalo and Kansas City. Henry is the best non-quarterback offensive player in the NFL and at this point, it's not particularly close.

If there was anybody who could prevent a QB from winning MVP, it would be Henry. 

One name to keep an eye on is Rams QB Matt Stafford, who continues to light up the stat sheet every week. The Rams are 6-1 and if both Stafford and his club continue to ascend, he'll be in the MVP mix come season's end.

Offensive Player of the Year

Betting favorite: Derrick Henry (+300)

Best bet: Derrick Henry (+300)

Keep an eye on: Cooper Kupp (+800)

PointsBet currently hasn't updated its Offensive Player of the Year odds, so these are the same odds as last week. My advice is that once PointsBet does reopen for this specific bet, place a wager on Titans running back Derrick Henry as soon as possible.

For the third straight week, Henry is the only player I will advocate throwing a wager on for the Offensive Player of the Year award. Barring injury, this award is his for the second straight year. He does it all for the Titans -- he even threw a touchdown pass against Kansas City! -- and is on-pace for a second straight 2,000-yard rushing season.

What Henry is doing this season is so impressive that even Rams pass-catcher Cooper Kupp, who is on pace for the best season in fantasy football history for a wide receiver, isn't warranting much consideration for Offensive Player of the Year. Henry has been just that good.

Defensive Player of the Year

Betting favorite: Trevon Diggs (+325)

Best bet: Diggs (+325), Myles Garrett (+350)

Keep an eye on:  T.J. Watt (+600)

For the first time this season, a week of NFL games went by without Trevon Diggs recording an interception. No, it's not because he failed to haul in his eighth takeaway of the 2021 season, but that Dallas was off this past week for the team's Week 7 bye.

Diggs' incredible start to the 2021 season keeps him as the favorite for Defensive Player of the Year, even if Browns pass rusher Myles Garrett continues to close the gap. Garrett was dominant in Cleveland's Thursday night win over the Broncos, as he notched 1.5 sacks and three tackles in the win.

There's one other name to keep an eye on, though: Steelers pass rusher T.J. Watt. Pittsburgh was off this past weekend, but what Watt did in Week 6 against the Seahawks -- seven tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble -- was one of the most impressive performances by an individual defender this season.

 

Watt felt that he should have won this award in 2020 over Aaron Donald. If he has a few more performances like the outing he had against Seattle, he will have a true chance of taking home the hardware this season.

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Betting favorite: Ja'Marr Chase (-140)

Best bet: Ja'Marr Chase (-140)

Keep an eye on: Najee Harris (+900)

For the first time this season, Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase no longer has plus odds to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. After his outstanding performance against the Ravens in Week 7, the No. 5 overall pick is the runaway favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Chase is currently second in the NFL in receiving yards, trailing only Cooper Kupp. Chase's 754 receiving yards are the most by any player through his first seven games in NFL history. This past week, he went for over 200 yards against the Ravens and top cornerback Marlon Humphrey.

Remember the preseason drop issues? Those seem like forever ago. Ja'Marr Chase is the real deal. Not only is he the best offensive rookie, but he's already established himself as one of the best receivers in all of football.

In a rookie class that featured five first-round quarterbacks, only Patriots' Mac Jones seems to truly be in the OROY race. But at this point, it's Chase's award to lose.

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Betting favorite: Micah Parsons (+200)

Best bet: Micah Parsons (+200)

Keep an eye on: Odafe Oweh (+750)

The Cowboys were on their bye week in Week 7, so Micah Parsons was unable to add to his already impressive Defensive Rookie of the Year campaign. But, his challengers did not make up any ground on him this past weekend, as he's still the runaway favorite for the award.

I've said this every week, but it's worth repeating: outside of Trevon Diggs' emergence, Parsons' presence has been the top reason for Dallas' defense improvement from 2020. Parsons has proven he has the ability to line up at both linebacker or edge rusher and still impact the game significantly. He's the clear, likely winner for this award.

Ravens' first-round pick Odafe Oweh has been a welcome addition for Baltimore, too. He's arguably already the team's best pass rusher, leads Baltimore in sacks and is second on the team in QB hits. While he likely won't challenge Parsons for this award, Oweh appears to have the ability to be an impact player for years to come.

Comeback Player of the Year

Betting favorite: Dak Prescott (-350)

Best bet: Dak Prescott (-350)

Keep an eye on: Joe Burrow (+700)

Is it possible to give the Comeback Player of the Year award to both Dak Prescott and Joe Burrow?

Prescott is the heavy favorite for the award and what he's done in 2021 thus far is nothing short of incredible. The Cowboys are 5-1 and Prescott is playing the best football of his career, just months after fully recovering from a compound ankle fracture. He's truly deserving of this award and deserves significant praise for what he's been able to accomplish.

 

But let's not undermine what Joe Burrow is doing, either. The second-year quarterback tore his ACL and MCL against Washington last year. There were questions about whether he'd be ready to play for Week 1 this season, yet he was cleared ahead of training camp. Through seven weeks, Burrow has the Bengals 5-2 and atop the AFC North following an epic win over division rival Baltimore.

In many other years, Burrow would easily win this award. It just so happens that both he and Prescott are playing excellent football just one year removed from brutal injuries. While only one of them can win this award, it's great to see how both quarterbacks were able to bounce back in such an impressive way.

Coach of the Year

Betting favorite: Kliff Kingsbury (+325)

Best bet: Kliff Kingsbury (+325)

Keep an eye on: Zac Taylor (+800)

It's fair to say that nobody outside of the Cardinals building expected Arizona to be 7-0 through the first seven weeks of the season. But, that's exactly what has happened. While quarterback Kyler Murray deserves a ton of praise for Arizona's success, so does head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Playing in the loaded NFC West, Kingsbury has his club prepared and ready to play every week. Arizona has impressive victories under its belt, too, as they've knocked off the Rams, Titans and Browns, with those last two coming on the road. They're a legit contender and deserve to be treated as such.

There is another young coach to keep an eye on for this award, though, and it's a name that I can admit I never expected would be in the mix for Coach of the Year. That would be Zac Taylor, who went from a prime hot seat candidate to the potential Coach of the Year winner, as his Bengals are 5-2 and atop the AFC North following a thrilling win in Baltimore.

With 10 weeks still to go, there's plenty of time for the Coach of the Year race to change. But for right now, Kingsbury, Taylor and Chargers boss Brandon Staley appear to be the frontrunners for the honor.