Another NFL regular season is behind us, and we’ve seen our fair share of moments. From “You like that!” from Kirk Cousins, to Cam Newton’s polarizing end zone dances. We’ve seen great players shine on the biggest stage of the biggest sport as well, a season where Cam Newton explodes to dab his way into the NFL’s elite. The official announcements of the awards are still a few weeks away, but the playoffs are tomorrow. So before everyone lets playoff performances cloud their judgement, I’ll try and predict the winners of the NFL Awards, as well as a few awards of my own. First up….
NFL Honors Awards
NFL MVP: Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers
Lets see, you’ve got the best player, on the NFL’s best record team (15-1), a quarterback that threw for over 3,800 yards, 35 touchdowns to only 10 interceptions, while also running for over 600 yards and 10 touchdowns. All without his top receiver Kelvin Benjamin.
Runners up: Carson Palmer – Arizona Cardinals, Tom Brady – New England Patriots
NFL Coach of the Year: Ron Rivera – Carolina Panthers
Last year the Panthers squeaked into the playoffs with a 7-8-1 record. This year they had one of the best defenses in the league, and Cam Newton had himself an MVP season. Coach of the year comes with defying expectations, and with many thinking Rivera’s job was on the line, he did just that.
Runners up: Mike Zimmer – Minnesota Vikings, Andy Reid – Kansas City Chiefs
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Todd Gurley – St. Louis Rams
Todd Gurley drafted 12 overall by the St. Louis Rams, even while coming off of a torn ACL took this league by storm. He finished the season 3rd in rushing with over 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns. Proving that running backs can once again be worthy of a first round pick.
Runners up: Jameis Winston – Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marcus Peters – Kansas City Chiefs
Peters led all rookies in interceptions with 8 (also tied for the league lead), and proved he was worthy of their 1st round pick. No defensive rookie this year really came close to making the kind of impact he did.
Runners up: Damarious Randall – Green Bay Packers, Vic Beasley – Atlanta Falcons
Offensive Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings
Coming off of a season where he only played 1 game, Adrian Peterson lived up to expectations that he would come back with fresh legs and dominate the NFL. He led the league in rushing yards with 1,485, and in touchdowns with 11.
Runners up: Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh Steelers, DeAndre Hopkins – Houston Texans
Defensive Player of the Year: JJ Watt – Houston Texans
Somehow he quietly led the league in sacks once again with 17.5, had 8 pass deflections, 3 forced fumbles and 29 tackles for loss (also led the league). He also makes the players around him better, case in point is Whitney Mercilus who had himself a career year with 12 sacks.
Runners up: Khalil Mack – Oakland Raiders, Ezekiel Ansah – Detroit Lions
Fantasy Player of the Year: Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons
When looking at fantasy player of the year, he can’t be a guy at the top of most pre-season draft boards. He has to be one of those diamond in the rough guys, that everyone sleeps on, that has a career season and ends the year at the top of the lists. That was Freeman this year. A relative unknown, he beat out presumed starter Tevin Coleman for the starting running back job, and went on to finish first among all running backs in fantasy points, totaling over 1,000 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns, to go along with over 500 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns.
Runners up: Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh Steelers, Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers, Blake Bortles – Jacksonville Jaguars
Comeback Player of the Year: Eric Berry – Kansas City Chiefs
In November 2014, Eric Berry was diagnosed with Hodgkins-Lymphoma and missed the rest of the 2014/15 season. He came back this year, started every game, and finished the season as a first team All-Pro. Amazing comeback story if there ever was one.
Runners up: Darren McFadden – Dallas Cowboys, Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A few extra…
Breakout Player of the Year: Kirk Cousins – Washington Redskins
You like that? Yes I do. Cousins to begin the year was the model of inconsistency, but since week 7 he’s completed over 70% of his passes, thrown 23 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions and has a QBR of 80. During a season where he was constantly questioned whether he was actually better than RGIII? Sounds like a breakout player to me.
Runners up: Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons, Allen Robinson – Jacksonville Jaguars
Fantasy Bust of the Year: Melvin Gordon – San Diego Chargers
I was one of the many people that thought Melvin Gordon was a home run pick at 16 for the Chargers. I also thought that he would prove to be a much better investment than Todd Gurley. At least this year, boy was I wrong. Melvin Gordon averaged less than 4 yards per carry, and failed to score a touchdown once this season. Many people were taking him in the 3rd or 4th round which means he had high expectations, making him the bust of the year.
Runners up: CJ Anderson – Denver Broncos, Eddie Lacy – Green Bay Packers
Coached Himself off the Hot Seat: Jay Gruden – Washington Redskins
A majority of analysts going into the year, including myself, had the Redskins at the bottom of the NFC East. Jay Gruden was being ridiculed for the way he was handling the RGIII/Cousins situation, but he came out smelling like roses. Winning the NFC East (although it was a dumpster fire) effectively gets him off the hot seat, and a real sense of security going into the future.
Runners up: Bill O’Brien – Houston Texans
Coached Himself on the Hot Seat: Jeff Fisher – St. Louis Rams
I mean he has to be on the hot seat going on to next year right? Guy has to be the most overrated coach in the NFL. Last time he went to the playoffs was with the Titans in 2008 when Vince Young was his quarterback (which also happened to be the last time a Fisher coached team went over .500), and the last time he won a playoff game was in 2003 when Steve McNair was his quarterback. With all the talent on that defense and Todd Gurley as his stud running back, it has to be playoffs or bust next year for Jeff Fisher.
Runners up: Jason Garrett – Dallas Cowboys, Rex Ryan – Buffalo Bills
And there you have it! I’d like to thank you for reading my award predictions, feel free to comment or tweet us your opinions!
Article by Thomas Mooney