It has been a while but with the start of the regular season only hours away. Here are my predictions for who will end the season as the individual award winners.
Most Valuable Player
Aaron Rodgers – QB Green Bay Packers
I believe that Rodgers will be back to his electric 2014-MVP-caliber form this season, due to the return of his favorite receiver, Jordy Nelson from an ACL injury that kept him out for all of the last season. Nelson will be back to form in that offence so they can move a healthy Randall Cobb back to the second spot, all whilst having a slimmer, faster and more productive Eddie Lacy in the backfield to keep defences guessing by putting another man in the box. Also, in an under-the-radar free agency move the Packer acquired Jarod Cook from the Rams; he may have been a bit inconsistent in St Loius but then he didn’t have Rodgers throwing him the ball so expect a lot of red zone targets for him.
Offensive Player of the Year
Antonio Brown – WR Pittsburgh Steelers
Last season Brown had 1,834 yards, 136 receptions, and 10 touchdowns. That is one of the best seasons in recent memory, so now consider that he did that with Landry Jones and Michael Vick starting 5 games. We know that he is good enough to escape the double teams that he will now face because Martavious Bryant is suspended for the season, it’s just if Ben Roethlisberger can stay healthy for their entire season then his numbers will explode and he might break the 2000 yard mark and 15 TDs, making him a shoe-in for this award.
Defensive Player of the Year
Kahlil Mack – DE Oakland Raiders
Mack had an unbelievable season last year, racking up +15 sacks and becoming the first player to be named All-Pro at 2 positions (DE & OLB). This season, because JJ Watt is having to have back surgery which will keep him out for a while, Mack will take home the sacks title ahead of the likes of Von Miller and Justin Houston. Mack’s younger age and his cleaner injury history make him a more consistent threat every week for at least 2 sacks. If you need any proof of Mack’s talent and threat to take home this award for many years to come, take a look at his highlights from Oakland’s week 14 matchup against the Denver Broncos where he had an astonishing 5 sacks.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Ezekiel Elliot – RB Dallas Cowboys
With the recent injury to Tony Romo keeping him out for the season, Dallas has placed rookie Dak Prescott as their starter for the season. Now, because he is a rookie and Dallas has one of the league’s best offensive lines at its disposal, they will be running the ball in order to keep Prescott from making as few mistakes as possible. With this increased workload and the pedigree of the talent around him, I believe that Elliot will reach 1200 yards as the shining light of Dallas’s offence.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Vernon Hargreaves – CB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With both Eli Apple and Jalen Ramsey being selected ahead of him, I feel that Hargreaves is in the best system to succeed this season. With Mike Mayock saying when he was drafted “Hargreaves has the best corner feet in the draft I’ve seen in the past 2 or 3 years”. On Tampa’s depth chart he is sharing his cornerback spot with Alteraaun Verner and they will be opposite Brent Grimes, meaning that he will be targeted a lot but Hargreaves, as he has already shown in the preseason, has the ability to have multiple interception games. I think that he will not reach the heights of Marcus Peters last season but 5 Interceptions and 20 passes defended will take it home for this University of Florida product.
Coach of the Year
Bill Belicheck – New England Patriots
He could win this award practically any year but when the Patriots go 2-2 without Tom Brady to start the season and then go 11-3 to finish, taking them back into the playoffs for the 14th time in 16 years, it will be virtually impossible to ignore Belicheck for this award because he seems to do something unprecedented every year whether it’s wins, records or playoff appearances and this season would be no different.
Comeback Player of the Year
Jamaal Charles – RB Kansas City Chiefs
He only played 5 games last season till he tore his ACL putting him on Injured Reserve for the rest of the season. Charles has come back from ACL injuries before when he then proceeded to rush for over 1500 yards in 2012. Now I’m not saying he will hit 1500 yards again because he is older and the history of running backs coming off ACL injuries is slightly hot and cold, but he will top 1200 yards on his way to winning Comeback Player of the Year and getting the Chiefs back into the playoffs.