Brian Sullivan (@MadManScouting)
There’s only 17 days until football starts. By now, you’ve seen every single overdone offseason article. But here comes another one, and I’ll only refer back to it if I end up being correct. This was incredibly difficult, because the season could go in so many different directions and none of the outcomes would shock me. But here’s my attempt at projecting who will win the most prestigious awards in the NFL this season. Feel free to leave your predictions in the comments below.
Winner – Rams QB Jared Goff
This might seem a little contradictory, considering I’ve been pushing the Andrew Luck MVP hype train for the past few weeks. But what are the credentials required for an MVP winner? Voters usually want a new face, with impressive stats, on a winning team. Will there be an issue with wins? I expect the Rams to finish as the 1 seed in the NFC, so no. How about Goff’s stats? Well, Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Todd Gurley should all see a ton of volume in the receiving game. Somebody has to throw them the ball right? The Rams have the potential to win at least 13 games with their continuity at key positions, free-agent additions, and favorable schedule, which features most of their tough games at home. It’s a bold prediction, but the signs are there.
Runner-Up – Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
I don’t plan on going in depth with this one. Aaron Rodgers is a candidate every single year. This year is no different.
Dark Horse – Colts QB Andrew Luck
The video below explains why I’m so high on Luck this year. Take a look. TL;DW, this is the best roster he’s ever had.
Offensive Player Of The Year
Winner – Cardinals RB David Johnson
While it’s fair to be wary of players returning from injury, we must keep in mind that David Johnson didn’t suffer an ACL tear. He didn’t suffer an achilles injury. He suffered an unfortunate fractured wrist, which feels more like a freak accident than a conditioning issue. There’s no reason to believe that the injury hindered his abilities that make him so talented. He’s proven he can produce in a mediocre offense. This offense has more talent than it did during his last productive season. Considering that Josh Rosen could see the field this year, there are likely plenty of passing plays designed the get the ball into Johnson’s hands quickly. He has the opportunity to make a huge statement this season.
Runner-Up – Cowboys RB Zeke Elliott
A full season, behind that offensive line, in an offense with very few receiving threats? That sounds like a formula for a heavy dose of Zeke for the season. His off-field behavior is worth noting, which is why I’m hesitant to put him at the top, but the upside is massive.
Dark Horse – Dolphins RB Kenyan Drake
Drake is flying under the radar, due to the fact that nobody outside of Miami discusses the Dolphins. But Drake is a special player. He’s a fantastic receiving threat, his vision is excellent, and the only real option behind him is 87 year old Frank Gore. I do like the rookie Kalen Ballage, but I don’t see him stealing too many opportunities from Drake this season. He’ll surprise a lot of people this year in an offense that will likely rely on him constantly.
Defensive Player Of The Year
Winner – Chargers DE Joey Bosa
Joey Bosa has been wreaking havoc on opposing linemen since he entered the league. The fact that he was so productive, on a team with such little talent on the defensive line, after missing training camp during his rookie year, proves what a spectacular player Bosa is. Now, the defense has more pieces worth noting. The Charger’s defense has all of the potential in the world to be an elite unit. If Bosa ends up in the 15+ sack range, and their defense lives up to expectations, the award is all his.
Runner-Up – Rams DT Aaron Donald
Aaron Donald is still the most dominant defensive player in football. But after winning the award last season, voters might avoid him this season if there are other worthy options.
Dark Horse – Falcons LB Deion Jones
Jones has been steadily improving since he entered the league as a 2nd round pick in 2016. Entering his 3rd year, there’s a great chance he can build on his impressive sophomore season in which he tallied 138 total tackles, 1 sack, and 3 interceptions. If the Falcons young defensive line improves, Jones could end up stuffing the stat sheet.
Offensive Rookie Of The Year
Winner – Jets QB Sam Darnold
This is obviously contingent on him winning the starting job, which I think he will. I don’t trust rookie receivers to win the award very often, and most of the best options at running back are either behind weak offensive lines or are injured (RIP to the Sony Michel hype train). As for the other quarterbacks, Baker likely won’t start, nor will Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson. Rosen still has an uphill climb to get ahead of Bradford unless he gets injured, which feels more likely as I finish typing this sentence. I’m betting on Darnold being the only starter when the season kicks off. If the Jets can win even 8 games with him (remember, they won 6 last year with Josh McCown and Bryce Petty), and his numbers aren’t awful, he’s a borderline lock for the award.
Runner-Up – Giants RB Saquon Barkley
This one feels pretty obvious. I still stand by the fact that he was drafted too high, but the Giants are going to involve him a ton in this offense. He’ll catch a lot of balls, have a lot of volume on the ground (even if it is at 3.4 yards per carry behind that still mediocre offensive line), and be an award finalist.
Dark Horse – Bears WR Anthony Miller
Here it is. Is it a MadMan article if it doesn’t mention Anthony Miller or Patrick Mahomes? Anyway, if you’re new to the site, let it be known that I have been on the Anthony Miller hype train since February. He’s a perfect fit in the Bears offense with Nagy at the helm.
Defensive Rookie Of The Year
Winner – Broncos DE Bradley Chubb
With Von Miller drawing so much attention, there will be plenty of opportunity for Bradley Chubb to take on the weaker tackle in one-on-one situations for the Broncos. He’s already an insanely gifted pass rusher, but sometimes it takes great talent and a situation that benefits said talent. Chubb is in a perfect situation.
Runner-Up – Titans DE/OLB Harold Landry
I’m not sure why he fell to the 2nd round. Maybe it was because of his injury history, but Landry is already off to a great start. There are plenty of talented options on this Titans defensive line as well, including the perennially underrated Jurrell Casey. Voters love players who produce sacks. Landry could be just that.
Dark Horse – Vikings CB Mike Hughes
It’s tough for corners to win this award. Sure, Marshon Lattimore won it last season, but if it wasn’t for a few interceptions, including the luckiest interception of all time, he might not have gotten the love he deserved. But Hughes has every chance to pick off a ton of passes, especially with a devastating front 7 causing pressure for him. QBs will avoid Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith, so they’ll be forced to throw it towards to talented UCF product.
Comeback Player Of The Year
Winner – Colts QB Andrew Luck
This one is tough, because there are so many options, but in the end, they’ll give it to the QBs. It feels like a cop out that 2/3rds of my list are also on my MVP list, but what can I say? Anyways, with Luck missing essentially the past 2 seasons, he’ll be extra inspiring to the voters when he tears it up this season.
Runner-Up – Aaron Rodgers
He only missed about half of the season, but we’re all awaiting his comeback. He’ll definitely be in the running. It really depends on the voters mindsets.
Dark Horse – Sam Bradford
Obviously, there are a ton of other great options, including JJ Watt and Odell Beckham. I’m not sure if Deshaun Watson is eligible, Carson Wentz certainly should not be since he played most of last season. Is Josh Gordon? Anyway, Bradford is not on that star-studded list, but he could shock a ton of people. If he plays the whole year, puts up some solid stats, and leads the Cardinals to 9 or 10 wins, suddenly he looks very deserving of the award.
Coach Of The Year
Winner – Kyle Shanahan
I would probably put Sean McVay here, but he already won last season, which means he’s likely out of the running. When the 49ers, everybody’s favorite dark horse team (including me), win their 12th game, the award will be all his. Highly recommend you check out his interview on Pardon My Take as well; makes him even more likeable.
Runner-Up – Doug Pederson
The “most unqualified coach in the history of the NFL”, to paraphrase Mike Lombardi, looked pretty damned qualified to me last year. That’s not really a hot take now is it, seeing as he coached his team to the Super Bowl despite losing his MVP caliber QB in Week 15. The Eagles are bound to win another 12 games barring a Super Bowl hangover or some bad luck with their tough schedule this season. He has to be in the running.
Dark Horse – Mike Vrabel
Despite making the Playoffs, and despite winning a playoff game in exceptional comeback fashion, you could argue that the Titans underachieved last season. Assuming Marcus Mariota isn’t terrible, you should be able to dominate with a top 5 offensive line, a dominant front 7, and a solid secondary, especially with 2 talented RBs running behind that line. They were built like the 2016 Cowboys, yet they played with the offensive creativity of a mayonnaise sandwich. If Mike Vrabel can unleash the potential of this team, with the help of new OC Matt LaFleur, then he could be a sleeper candidate for this award.
Photo Credit – https://nypost.com/2018/08/14/aaron-rodgers-why-i-blasted-piss-poor-packers-receivers/