The award was Damar Hamlin’s to lose. Entering the 2023 NFL season, the Bills safety was the heavy favorite to win the Comeback Player of the Year award. He had been fully cleared medically to return to the field after collapsing due to a heart condition back in early January. It was thought that all he had to do was step foot on the playing surface and the award would be his, but that notion has changed entering the final couple of weeks of the regular season.
NFL Odds: Flacco Making A Run At Comeback Player of the Year
NFL Comeback Player of the Year odds, via DraftKings:
• Damar Hamlin: -150
• Joe Flacco: +100 pic.twitter.com/z6G7sppGtn
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) December 29, 2023
Hamlin’s story at situation are certainly CBPOY award-worthy. Not only was it unclear whether he would ever play football again, but in the early moments of his saga, it was unclear whether he would even live.
But he has made an inspiring comeback and has been back in action for the Buffalo Bills this season. Sort of.
Of the 15 games that the Bills have played in so far this season, Hamlin has been listed as a healthy inactive for 10 of them. In the five games that he has participated in, he has taken a total of 17 defensive snaps (16 coming in two of the games), spending most of his available time on the special teams units. For the year, Damar Hamlin has 2 tackles and no other statistics.
He has some serious competition. One of the biggest stories in the late going of the 2023 NFL season has been the resurgence of Joe Flacco and his leadership of the Cleveland Browns. The soon-to-be 39-year-old is 4-1 in his five games with Cleveland after coming off of his couch to be their quarterback. He has thrown for 300+ yards and multiple touchdowns in four consecutive games, the only QB in the league to do that so far this season.
Hamlin Up From -1200 to -200
Browns’ QB Joe Flacco earned another $75,000 bonus for Thursday night’s win, as he does for each regular-season win that he helps Cleveland get. pic.twitter.com/0sBlTBWAKY
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 29, 2023
In a season full of injuries and sub-par play at the most important position on the field, Flacco has been a revelation. So much so that the oddsmakers have taken notice, and he is shooting up the board for most likely to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
Hamlin’s number has been growing all season long. Before Week 1, some outlets had him listed as high as -1200 to take home the hardware, with the other candidates being serious long shots. But after 16 weeks, his designation is all the way down to -200, the highest it has been all season. There were players like Tua Tagovailoa and Baker Mayfield who made runs throughout the year to affect Hamlin’s odds, but he remained at the top.
Flacco is now the closest that any player has been. After his Week 17 performance against the Jets, the Browns quarterback is now listed at +100, the shortest odds of anyone aside from Hamlin so far this season.
If Flacco has another stellar performance against the Bengals to close out the regular season, then the award will likely be his to lose.