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NFL Comeback Player of the Year 2024: Joe Flacco Pushing for the Award in Week 18

Written by: Michael Hanich
Updated January 3, 2024
8 min read

The NFL Comeback Player of the Year award is one of the most distinguished and emotional awards in the league. It is an award given to one of the best players in the NFL, who are coming from a significant injury, traumatic event, or serious change in their career. 

The last five winners of the award have gone to quarterbacks, but are not limited to position. In 2021, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow won the award after recovering a torn ACL he suffered in his rookie season to lead the Bengals to a Super Bowl appearance. Last year's winner was Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith, who revitalized his NFL career after a series of disappointments and backing up Russell Wilson for a few seasons. Smith led the Seahawks to the playoffs despite being projected before the season to be one of the worst teams in the league under his leadership.

Below are the players with the current best odds to win the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award. Be sure to come back to this series and see our analysis to decide on which player to potentially bet on to win the award at the end of the season.

NFL Comeback Player of the Year Odds

Odds via DraftKings SportsBook as of January 3. Click on the odds below to place your bets at DraftKings.

Player Odds to Win Award
Damar Hamlin -140
Joe Flacco +100
Baker Mayfield +1200
Mathew Stafford +7500
Nfl Comeback Player Of The Year Predictions

NFL Comeback Player of the Year Pick

Demar Hamlin (Buffalo Bills) - Safety 

The most traumatic event in the entire season last year was in the week 17 matchup between the Buffalo Bills at the Cincinnati Bengals. Bills safety Demar Hamlin made a tackle on Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins late in the first quarter. 

Hamlin would not get back up as he had suffered a cardiac arrest on the field. After a moment, his heart stopped, but he was saved by the team staff of the Bills and taken to a hospital in Cincinnati. The traumatic event paralyzed the NFL community as the game was canceled and ultimately, not made up.

Not only has Hamlin fully recovered, but he is back on the field. Hamlin played his first game since his cardiac arrest in week four at home against the Miami Dolphins. He played in 18 snaps on special teams while backing up Micah Hyde. 

Hamlin is not the same player was when he started 13 games last season for several injured Bills, but his return to the field is nearly impossible and incredible. He has accounted for a solo tackle in the 37-34 overtime loss at the Philadelphia Eagles and the 24-22 home loss to the Denver Broncos.

Hamlin has had a commanding season-long lead over players like Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and New York Jets running back Breece Hall, who have been more productive on the field.

Joe Flacco (Cleveland Browns) - Quarterback

The challengers to Demar Hamlin for the Comeback Player of the Year Award continue to shuffle into the final regular season week. Joe Flacco was not supposed to be the driving force of a 10-win Cleveland Browns team, but injuries and inconsistencies to the previous three quarterbacks forced the Browns to have the 38-year-old quarterback.

Flacco made his first start for the Browns on December 3 at the Los Angeles Rams. After that 36-19 loss, the Browns would win four consecutive games with Flacco as the starting quarterback. He helped brought a 7-5 Browns team to an overall record of 11-5. In the Browns’ 37-20 win at home over the New York Jets in week 17, Cleveland secured the first AFC Wild Card spot.

Throughout his limited time with the Browns, he has taken command of a talented offense that has been hit hard with significant injuries. He was signed on the practice squad on November 20 and made his first start for the Browns less than two weeks later.

After being replaced by the rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson in the 2018 NFL Season with the Baltimore Ravens, Flacco was traded to the Denver Broncos, where he only played and started in eight games. From the 2020 season to last season, Flacco was with the New York Jets in a period where he had more positive performances than Zach Wilson.

Flacco’s resurgence is remarkable considering his age, the numerous spots he bounced around, and the limited time to learn the offense. In his five starts for the Browns, Flacco has completed 123-of-204 of his passes for 1,616 yards, 13 touchdowns, eight interceptions, a quarterback rating of 90.2, and one game-winning drive against the Chicago Bears.

Baker Mayfield (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) - Quarterback

Much like Joe Flacco and Geno Smith last season, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield has revitalized his career through inconsistencies and bouncing around teams. Mayfield has brought hope to a Buccaneers team that was ready to tank in the first season with future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady.

Mayfield was a huge competitor for the NFL Comeback Player of the Year a few weeks ago and even last week as the Buccaneers were ready to take the NFC South Divisional title. Tampa Bay’s four-game winning streak and Mayfield’s incredible play had brought the Buccaneers to the brink of securing the division and a playoff spot.

The Buccaneers, however, fell at home in week 17 to the New Orleans Saints 23-13. The Buccaneers can clinch the division with a win at the Carolina Panthers in week 18, but Mayfield’s odds in the race took a dip as he struggled early by throwing two interceptions. Mayfield finished the game by completing 22-of-32 of his passes for 309 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.

In his 16 starts with the Buccaneers, Mayfield has completed 344-of-534 of his passes for 3,907 yards, 28 touchdowns, ten interceptions, a quarterback rating of 95.9, and two game-winning drives. He has been one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the NFC since the start of the season, but this loss to the Saints to push off winning the division is something that will be considered for the Comeback Player of the Year.

NFL Comeback Player of the Year FAQ

Who Was the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in the 2022/2023 season?

How Is the Winner of the Award Decided?

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Michael Hanich

501 Articles

Michael Hanich is a sports journalist/analyst with a wide variety of experience in the newspaper and digital field. He has a love for all sports. The leagues that he covers are College Football, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, College Basketball (men’s and women’s), the MLB, Lacrosse, Volleyball, and the WNBA.

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