With the NFL Preseason nearly halfway over, let’s look ahead to February and try to predict the major NFL award recipients for this upcoming season.
Candidates: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Julio Jones
The most important award to the players in the league; the MVP race will see familiar candidates again this season with the current MVP Brady, along with elite players in Brees and Jones.
It will be hard to dethrone Brady this season because barring any significant injury, the 41-year-old signal caller has shown zero signs of slowing down. Him winning MVP is going to come down to his performance late in the season, and I don’t see him faltering. Drew Brees is always in the conversation for this award, but he always comes up just short. This season will likely yield the same results.
Julio Jones is due for a huge year after only 5 TD’s last season thanks to the change in offensive coordinators and the drafting of rookie Calvin Ridley. However, Julio won’t still perform in the manner necessary to boost his team to the next level leaving him a few steps behind Brady.
Winner: Tom Brady
NFL Coach of the Year
Candidates: Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay, Matt Patricia
Coach of the Year is always hard to predict because let’s be honest, Bill Belichick should win it every year. Now that we got my Patriots bias out of the way, the two breakout guys this season are Shanahan and Patricia. Both are young head coaches with talented rosters with the potential to have big seasons. Then there’s McVay, another young coach, who won the award last season and should be a favorite to repeat with that talented Rams roster. This is going to be a really tight race, but I don’t think the Niners or Lions improve enough to knock McVay off.
Winner: Sean McVay
NFL Offensive Player of the Year:
Candidates: Todd Gurley, LeVeon Bell, Antonio Brown
Just name this award the Non-QB MVP Award already. Gurley and Bell are the two best RB’s in the league without question, and adding arguably the best WR in the game makes this race lethal. Gurley is the favorite here simply because Bell and Brown will likely knock each out of the race with their performance in Pittsburgh. They’ll still have huge years, but they have to share the wealth, whereas Gurley in the one-man show in LA.
Winner: Todd Gurley
NFL Defensive Player of the Year:
Candidates: Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey
Hopefully Mack and Donald show up to their respective teams soon…. Anyway, here’s another group of studs who are making these predictions extremely difficult. Donald is the best defensive linemen in the NFL, Mack is an elite edge rusher, and Ramsey is arguably the best corner in the league. Every single snap is going to count for this award, and even then, it ultimately be decided by pulling a name out of a hat (not really).
I’m taking a shot in the dark here, but ultimately, I think Ramsey gets it as the MVP of that elite Jags defense.
Winner: Jalen Ramsey
NFL Rookie of the Year (Offensive and Defensive):
Candidates: Offensive – Saquon Barkley, Baker Mayfield, Calvin Ridley
Candidates: Defensive – Roquan Smith, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Rashaan Evans
Another big shot in the dark because we never know what rookies will be. That being said, I’ll take Barkley tearing it up and becoming a difference maker for the Giants offense, and Fitzpatrick succeeding Cameron Wake as the leader of the Dolphins defense.
Winners: Saquon Barkley & Minkah Fitzpatrick
NFL Comeback Player of the Year:
Candidates: Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, Julian Edelman
Considering half the league dropped dead last season, this is anyone’s award to win. All three candidates suffered critical knee injuries that could affect them down the road, but that remains to be seen. Edelman probably won’t win, but he is one the main pieces in that Patriot offense.
This will be a toss up between Watson and Wentz, but I’ll give the edge to Watson because he’ll return to dominating for the Texans and lock up this award easily. Wentz will likely do the same in Philly, but it’s hard to win an award like this when your team won the Super Bowl without you.
Winner: Deshaun Watson