The NFL season is finally upon us. With this, a few of our writers gave award predictions for the upcoming season.
Scott Frizzell: Kirk Cousins
I’m going with a bit of an upset with Kirk Cousins. Cousins is joining a new team this year, but he’s joining a situation where Case Keenum threw 22 touchdowns versus 7 interceptions last year. The former Redskin is better than Keenum. Cousins has always put up big numbers and now he’s joining a good team with some weapons around him. Cousins has averaged 4392 yards passing and 27 passing touchdowns over the past three seasons with the Redskins. He should have a full year of Dalvin Cook along with Latavius Murray this year in the backfield. Throw in Stefon Diggs and the underrated Adam Thielen to throw to along with their good defense, it could happen.
Mike Buchanan: Drew Brees
Drew Brees is my pick for this year’s MVP award. This award was very hard to choice, as I do not believe they will give it to Brady this year. Brees is the next best choice because he will bring his team to the playoffs while putting up very good stats.
Matthew O’Halloran: Deshaun Watson
Watson set the world on fire when healthy and was an early candidate to win it last season. The Clemson product threw nineteen touchdowns and 1,699 yards in just six games. I think the Texans go from worst to first, basically all because of Watson.
Offensive Player of the Year
Mike Buchanan: David Johnson
My pick for offensive player of the year is running back for the Arizona Cardinals, David Johnson. He got injured in Week 1 last year, but this year I believe he will break the 1,000-yards rushing, and the 1,000-yard receiving mark.
Scott Frizzell: Ezekiel Elliot
Ezekiel Elliott is going to be fed. The Cowboys no longer have mainstays, Dez Bryant or Jason Witten. Zeke is the unquestioned workhorse of the team and has the added benefit of running behind one of the best offensive lines in football. The Cowboys have a lot of question marks at receiver, meaning they will need Elliott to move the football. Even if teams stack the box, Elliott will get his yards behind that line. I suspect he will lead the league in rushing. With questionable receivers, he will probably also set a career high in receptions this season.
Matthew O’Halloran: Antonio Brown
With Le’veon Bell’s status up in the air, Brown’s targets should go up. Brown has racked up over 100 receptions and 1,400 yards each year since 2013. He is the best wide receiver in the league and will be rewarded with an offensive player of the year award.
Defensive Player of the Year
Scott Frizzell: Kahil Mack
Khalil Mack has a new home in Chicago, and I think he will enjoy his best season since 2015. Wanting to get paid, Mack was at a standstill with the Raiders before being shipped to the Bears, who gave him what he wanted. He joins a defense on the rise with a good defensive front. I think Mack will come out with something to prove and as the defense plays well, they will all feed off each other as a unit. Vic Fangio returns for his fourth season as their defensive coordinator and the team’s sack totals have risen each year under him so far.
Mike Buchanan: Myles Garrett
Myles Garrett has shown in his short time in the NFL how dominant he is. This year in preseason he has shown why he went number 1 last year, and I believe that he will be 20+ sack candidate this year.
Matthew O’Halloran: Aaron Donald
Aaron Donald has been one of the best tackles in the league for years and one of the best overall players. Donald has picked up 148 tackles and 39 sacks in his four-year career. He finally got paid and will be paired with Ndamukong Suh in the middle.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Scott Frizzell: Saquon Barkley
It is hard to go with anyone but Saquon Barkley here. Barkley is one of the best running back prospects in recent memory. Barkley has both size and speed and scored 18 rushing touchdowns each of the past two seasons at Penn State. He joins an offense that hasn’t had a runner for the past few years and has thrown the ball a ton. Barkley gives them a new dimension to their offense and I expect him to lead all non-quarterback rookies in both yards and touchdowns.
Mike Buchanan: Sam Darnold
It was already announced that Sam Darnold will start Week 1 for the New York Jets. Darnold has looked so poised in the preseason which was the reason to why he beat out Teddy Bridgewater for the job.
Matthew O’Halloran: Saquon Barkley
The rookie quarterbacks are not guaranteed to start all games this year, so I have to go with Saquon Barkley. The second overall pick from Penn State will fill a void that’s been for years. New York has struggled to get a running game going, and Barkley will fill that hole. He can run in between the tackles, catch passes, and take kickoffs to the house.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Scott Frizzell: Tremaine Edmunds
Tremaine Edmunds will be on the field a lot for the Bills his rookie season. The Bills don’t have much of an offense and have an unpolished rookie quarterback throwing to a suspect receiving corps. The offense will get even worse if LeSean McCoy gets suspended. This should provide Edmunds with many opportunities to make plays and a lot of tackles. Preston Brown tied for the league lead with 144 tackles as the Bills middle linebacker last season. Edmunds has a lot more talent than Brown; he’s a gifted athlete who went 16th overall and learned from a former Pro Bowl tight end in Ferrell Edmunds, his father.
Mike Buchanan: Roquan Smith
The popular choice for this pick seems to be Derwin James, but I believe it will be Roquan Smith. Smith will be the center of the Bear’s defense and will be a big reason that they make the playoffs.
Matthew O’Halloran: Rashaan Evans
I am going with a bit of a sleeper here because Evans was not drafted until the 22nd pick. However, Evans comes from the best system in college football and will need to shine. The former Alabama product was a tackling machine when he was there. He will need to be a force in the middle for the Titans because linebacker was a big hole for them last year.
Coach of the Year
Scott Frizzell: Mike Zimmer
I’ll give Mike Zimmer the nod. I think the Vikings will be the top team from the NFC and he hasn’t won the award before.
Mike Buchman: Hue Jackson
Hue Jackson has had a pretty rocky start as a head coach for the Browns. His first two seasons for the team include him going 1-31. However, I believe that the Cleveland Browns will make the playoffs, and if they do I do not see how they couldn’t give him this award.
Matthew O’Halloran: Pat Shurmur
I am giving Shurmur the nod here to take the Giants from worst to first. He has a much better system than Mcadoo, and that was shown when he made Case Keenum a good quarterback last year. Also, Shurmur brings a breath of fresh air to New York. The Giants clubhouse was a disaster last year, and Shurmur should get everyone back on track.