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The 2023 NFL season is here. Every year, the league has surprises in store, from unexpected playoff teams to improbable MVP candidates. But part of the fun is predicting the unpredictable.

That's why we pooled together the insights and opinions of 18 different CBS Sports experts to preview the frontrunners for this year's biggest accolades, projecting winners of major awards as well as the Super Bowl LVIII matchup and champion.

The voters: "The NFL Today" analysts Boomer Esiason, Phil Simms, Bill Cowher, Nate Burleson and JJ Watt, senior NFL columnist Pete Prisco, senior NFL writer Will Brinson, NFL writers John Breech, Cody Benjamin, Jared Dubin, Tyler Sullivan, Jordan Dajani, Jeff Kerr and Garrett Podell, NFL editors Kevin Steimle, Joel Magaraci and Eric Kernish and researcher Doug Clawson.


T-Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence

Boomer Esiason, Nate Burleson, JJ Watt, Jared Dubin (Mahomes); Bill Cowher, Pete Prisco, Cody Benjamin, Tyler Sullivan (Lawrence)

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Mahomes is eyeing his third NFL MVP this year going on age 28, and while everyone expects the Chiefs star to be in the mix for the top honor, the real intrigue here lies with Lawrence. Entering Year 3, the former No. 1 overall pick made big strides under coach Doug Pederson in 2022, and now he's also got Calvin Ridley at his disposal. Notice below that he and Mahomes were just two of five different AFC QBs to receive multiple votes for MVP, underscoring the conference's star power.

Others receiving votes:

Offensive Player of the Year

T-Vikings WR Justin Jefferson, 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey

Boomer Esiason, Nate Burleson, Pete Prisco, Jeff Kerr (Jefferson); JJ Watt, Will Brinson, Joel Magaraci, Garrett Podell (McCaffrey)


Jefferson is the reigning winner here, but he's still just 24 and now has arguably more talent opposite him in rookie Jordan Addison, while Dalvin Cook's exit from Minnesota could boost his play-making volume. McCaffrey was an all-purpose machine for San Francisco after arriving via trade in 2022, topping 1,200 scrimmage yards in 11 games. Provided he can stay healthy, he figures to remain Kyle Shanahan's focal point with a young Brock Purdy under center.

Others receiving votes:

Defensive Player of the Year

Cowboys LB Micah Parsons

Pete Prisco, John Breech, Jared Dubin, Tyler Sullivan, Kevin Steimle, Joel Magaraci, Eric Kernish, Doug Clawson, Garrett Podell

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Just two years into his career, it already feels as if Parson has won this award, for he's been dominant as the heart of Dallas' high-flying defense, racking up 26.5 sacks and six forced fumbles in 33 games. Pittsburgh's ever-feisty T.J. Watt, the next-best vote-getter, is eyeing his second DPOY award in three years, returning from an injury-shortened 2022.

Others receiving votes:

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Falcons RB Bijan Robinson

Boomer Esiason, Phil Simms, Bill Cowher, JJ Watt, Jared Dubin, Jordan Dajani, Jeff Kerr, Kevin Steimle, Joel Magaraci, Eric Kernish, Doug Clawson


Volume is often king when it comes to identifying Rookie of the Year candidates, and while Arthur Smith deploys plenty of backs in Atlanta, including reigning 1,000-yard rusher Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta probably didn't spend a top 10 pick on Robinson just to sit his multipurpose skills on the bench. Bijan is the clear favorite to take this award considering the Falcons will likely lean even more into the ground game while turning the full-time QB job over to the unproven Desmond Ridder.

Others receiving votes:

Defensive Rookie of the Year

T-Texans DE Will Anderson Jr., Eagles DT Jalen Carter

Boomer Esiason, JJ Watt, Jared Dubin, Eric Kernish, Garrett Podell (Anderson); Bill Cowher, Nate Burleson, John Breech, Kevin Steimle, Jeff Kerr (Carter)

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It's a battle of the trench warriors here, and it's fitting that both Anderson and Carter at one point drew consideration as No. 1-worthy draft picks. The former, who went No. 3, is set to be the centerpiece of new coach DeMeco Ryans' defensive front. Carter, meanwhile, dominated at Georgia and should benefit from playing on a veteran Eagles defense that just made a title bid.

Others receiving votes:

Coach of the Year

T-Mike Tomlin (Steelers), Robert Saleh (Jets)

Bill Cowher, Tyler Sullivan, Jeff Kerr (Tomlin); John Breech, Jordan Dajani, Kevin Steimle (Saleh)

NFL: Detroit Lions at Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh may be overlooked among AFC heavyweights, hoping for a big leap from second-year QB Kenny Pickett this year, but Tomlin remains widely respected not only for his track record -- zero losing seasons in 16 years -- but unfazed leadership. His Steelers have a chance to surprise in the North, where the Browns and Ravens need rebound years from their big-money QBs. Saleh has gone just 11-23 running the Jets but is poised to shepherd a Super Bowl hopeful now that Aaron Rodgers is in town.

Others receiving votes:

  • Dolphins' Mike McDaniel (Phil Simms, Nate Burleson)
  • Lions' Dan Campbell (Boomer Esiason, Doug Clawson)
  • Chiefs' Andy Reid (JJ Watt, Jared Dubin)
  • Jaguars' Doug Pederson (Pete Prisco, Cody Benjamin)
  • Packers' Matt LaFleur (Eric Kernish, Garrett Podell)
  • Falcons' Arthur Smith (Will Brinson)
  • 49ers' Kyle Shanahan (Joel Magaraci)

Super Bowl matchup

Four different matchups received multiple votes, with three of them featuring the reigning NFC champions:


Bengals over 49ers

Nate Burleson, Joel Magaraci

A showdown between last year's conference runner-ups, this would pit Joe Burrow against Kyle Shanahan, allowing one side to make up for its own recent Super Bowl defeat, Cincy having lost in 2021 and San Francisco in 2019.

Eagles over Jaguars

Bill Cowher, Cody Benjamin

The Doug Pederson Bowl, this would feature two of the best young QBs in the game in Jalen Hurts and Trevor Lawrence, falling six years after Pederson helped guide Philadelphia to its first Lombardi Trophy.

Eagles over Bengals

Jordan Dajani, Jeff Kerr

Philly nearly played Cincy in last year's Super Bowl, but Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs had other plans.

Eagles over Ravens

Tyler Sullivan, Kevin Steimle

An East Coast showdown, this would be must-see TV just for the sheer dynamism under center. Ravens QB Lamar Jackson has yet to advance past the divisional round of the playoffs, but he's working in a new offense this year.

Others receiving votes:

  • Eagles over Jets (Boomer Esiason)
  • Eagles over Dolphins (Phil Simms)
  • Chiefs over Eagles (JJ Watt)
  • 49ers over Jaguars (Pete Prisco)
  • Bills over 49ers (Will Brinson)
  • Bengals over Cowboys (John Breech)
  • Chiefs over 49ers (Jared Dubin)
  • Eagles over Chiefs (Eric Kernish)
  • Bills over Seahawks (Doug Clawson)
  • Chargers over Cowboys (Garrett Podell)