While it feels like the 2021 NFL season began yesterday, we’ve already reached Week 18 of the schedule. That means that this week is the final opportunity for players to prove why they deserve to win one of the league’s individual awards, including the hardware for Comeback Player of the Year.
By now, most football fans know that Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow had his 2020 rookie season derailed when he suffered a torn ACL and MCL during a Week 11 clash with the Washington Football Team. He was just getting into the rhythm of it all at that point before tragedy struck, leaving many to wonder how he’d bounce back this season.
Back in the middle of November, Burrow had +700 odds, according to BetOnline, to be named this season’s NFL Comeback Player of the Year. However, his recent play has boosted his odds all the way up to +110 ahead of Week 18. Now, he only trails Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (-140) in the race.
Burrow has looked like one of the best quarterbacks in the league as of late. The 25-year-old has completed 75.9% of his passes over his last four games for 1,476 passing yards and 11 touchdowns without an interception. On the season as a whole, he ranks fifth in passing yards (4,611) and is tied for sixth with 34 touchdowns.
Long story short, nobody could have predicted that Burrow would be this dominant coming off of a major injury. His play has even led to the Bengals winning the AFC North title for the first time since 2015. Taking all that into consideration, another huge performance in Week 18 might lead to him being named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
Prescott Still Leads NFL Comeback Player of the Year Race
While Burrow’s return from injury this season has been nothing short of impressive, it’s important to remember that he isn’t the only player who’s made a resurgence.
As mentioned before, Dak Prescott is BetOnline’s favorite to be named Comeback Player of the Year and for good reason. The Cowboys gunslinger had his 2020 campaign come to an end after just five games when he suffered a fracture and dislocation to his right ankle.
Fast forward to the 2021 NFL season and it’s hard to believe that Prescott went through that experience. The 28-year-old has had one of his better campaigns so far, completing 68.4% of his passing attempts for 4,154 yards and a career-high 32 touchdowns to 10 interceptions.
The Cowboys are also 11-5 under Prescott ahead of Week 18, which is a lot better than the 6-10 record they finished with last year. That just further illustrates how important he is to Dallas, especially with the team winning its third NFC East title since 2016.
At the end of the day, both Prescott and Burrow have a claim to the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award. They both have played tremendously after dealing with potential career-altering injuries. They’ve led their teams to their respective division titles.
What this race could come down to is how each man performs in Week 18. A major performance by either Prescott or Burrow could be enough to change voters’ minds. Only time will tell which man will be the recipient of the award, however, there’s no doubt that both players are equally deserving.