What a season it has been for the Cincinnati Bengals. They not only returned to the playoffs but also snapped a 34-year drought by making the Conference Championship. Despite being big underdogs on the NFL betting odds, you can already consider this season to be a rousing success for the once-bungling franchise.
The Bengals could bring home the Vince Lombardi Trophy in February. But even if they don’t this franchise has a good shot to bring home up to three trophies courtesy of the NFL Awards.
Cincinnati Versus Everyone: Three NFL Awards
The three awards we are referring to are the NFL Coach of the Year, NFL Comeback Player of the Year, and the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Three Bengals are lined as top choices on the BetUS online sportsbook.
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
Wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is the runaway favorite to win this one at -1000 over Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (+550). Chase was trailing Jones by quite a bit with Jones being as short as a -400 favorite to win around Week 12. But as he and Patriots slowed down, Chase and the Bengals heat up.
The LSU product would tally 549 receiving yards in his final six games, including a ridiculous 266-yard explosion (a franchise record) in an upset over the Kansas City Chiefs. He would also break the franchise’s record for receiving yards in a season. Chase has become so dominant, he has spawned one of the more entertaining memes. This award is a lock.
NFL Comeback Player of the Year
Attached to Chase’s hip is his quarterback, Joe Burrow. The sophomore is breaking out this year and has also closed the gap (-110) on this award against Dak Prescott (-120). Like Chase, Burrow heated up toward the end of the season. He threw for 11 touchdowns with no picks and an absurd passer rating of 134.9 in his final four games.
In fact, Burrow has Prescott beat in completion percentage, passer rating, and yards gained per pass attempt. And he did all of this while absorbing the most sacks in the league. The odds may be this close, but bet online on Burrow as he closed the season stronger and plenty of voters may have a short memory.
Coach of the Year
This is where it gets interesting for Cincinnati. Chase should win his award, Burrow may win him, but coach Zac Taylor (+325) is not expected to beat out Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel (-300).
Vrabel had to navigate past a plethora of injuries to the team, including superstar running back, Derrick Henry, who missed the latter half of the season. And yet, Tennessee still captured the top seed of the AFC and beat teams like the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers, who are both playing in the NFC Conference Championship.
Taylor deserves plenty of praise for also turning the Bengals around. The culture has shifted in this franchise, which has not won a playoff game in three decades. However, Taylor’s case may be hurt by his team’s poor performance for the past two seasons. The Bengals’ turnaround may credited more to Burrow and Chase.
Still, as far as the betting odds go, Taylor should not be this long of an underdog so a small bet may suffice here. Crazier NFL predictions have happened – like the Bengals being one win away from the Super Bowl.
The Big Daddy: The NFL MVP
Only one other NFL Award is left on the board: the NFL Regular Season MVP. As the most prestigious individual award, this one has been narrowed down to three candidates:
Aaron Rodgers (-1200)
The mercurial Mr. Rodgers is all but guaranteed to bring home his fourth MVP award. The Green Bay signal-caller once again led the NFL in passer rating and will be the first player to win the award in consecutive seasons since Peyton Manning in 2008 and 2009.
Tom Brady (+600)
Tom Brady as a 6-1 underdog? This is a tempting bet to make, especially since he led the league in passing yards and touchdowns and has a solid case. Brady had to carry the Buccaneers, who got hit hard by the injury bug down the stretch.
Cooper Kupp (+2800)
It’s hard to ignore Kupp’s historic season in which he set several NFL and franchise records. But wide receivers have never won the MVP award and he’s going against the two best quarterbacks. If anything, Kupp is likely to win the Offensive Player of the Year Award. 28-1 is not long enough here.