As I am sure most of you who read our articles know, I am extremely bad at predicting what will happen, and what scores might be in games. In case you haven’t had a chance to check out Marcus’ post, this is up the same alley, and yet another try at predicting things correctly (what could possibly go wrong?). I will also give you my take on who will win awards in February along with why I think that.
NFL Awards Predictions
NFL MVP: Drew Brees, QB New Orleans Saints
Yeah, yeah. Patrick Mahomes threw for 50 touchdowns, and managed to keep the Chiefs rolling after a certain story came out about a running back who shalt not be named. However, hear me out on this one because Drew Brees still had a solid year even though he didn’t finish in the upper echelons of the sexy offensive categories. Brees finished the year with 32 touchdown passes, 5 interceptions, and 4 rushing touchdowns. He also only lost one fumble the entire season. He turned the ball over a total of 6 times by himself which is elite level ball security for any NFL quarterback. His interception totals are the lowest among quarterbacks who made it through the end of the season, and he finished with SEVEN fewer interceptions than Patrick Mahomes. His touchdown to interception ratio is 6.4 compared to Mahomes who had a 4.2 despite tossing 18 more touchdowns. Ball security is paramount to winning games in the NFL, and Brees is better all around, even if his passing yards and touchdowns are less than Mahomes. One more thing, Mahomes played one more game than Brees did meaning that his stats are from 16 games as opposed to Brees’ 15. Not convinced? I won’t hold it against you, but you shouldn’t write Brees off simply because his picture doesn’t top NFL stat lists.
Offensive Player of the Year: Patrick Mahomes II, QB Kansas City Chiefs
I think this award is more fitting for Mahomes simply because there was not a more dynamic playmaker in the NFL. He is also my runner-up for MVP. Ezekiel Elliott accounted for 2,001 total yards for a running back, but even his production pales in comparison with that of Mahomes. Although Mahomes didn’t exactly pile up the rushing yards, it is his mobility that terrorizes defenses much like Russell Wilson does. At 50 passing touchdowns, 2 rushing touchdowns, and 5,097 passing yards on the season, it is no wonder that the Chiefs had such a dynamic offense. There is a running game, but the quarterback sets the tone on offense, and he was steady at the helm as he consistently marched his team downfield for touchdowns.
Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald, DT Los Angeles Rams
There isn’t much about this guy that you don’t know (prepares Jon Gruden impression). This guy is amazing, man. His hands are lightening quick, great strength for a defensive lineman, and he really makes plays on defense for you, man (stops with the impression). Donald nearly broke Michael Strahan’s sack record with 20.5 sacks this season (Strahan had 22.5 in 2001). Personally, that’s just about enough to hand him the award right there. Beyond that, Donald accounted for 59 tackles, 4 forced fumbles, and 1 pass defensed. He is as dynamic of a defensive lineman who has ever played in the NFL, and teams are unable to stop him despite constantly gameplanning on how to neutralize him on offense. Just give him the award now, he deserves it.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Saquon Barkley, RB New York Giants
Once again, the New York Giants had a season to forget, but you can’t point your finger at Barkley as the problem. Barkley accounted for 2,028 total yards on offense finding the end zone 15 times (11 rushing, 4 receiving). At times, Barkley looked unstoppable running the ball, and has established himself as a key component in the Giants offense for years to come. Right now, there are only a handful of running backs in the same conversation as Barkley. For a rookie to produce this much in his first season, he could carry the offense much like Elliott does for the rival Cowboys while the Giants groom a young quarterback.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Leighton Vander Esch, LB Dallas Cowboys
This kid can do it all, and he flies around with fellow young linebacker Jaylon Smith making tackle after tackle for a resurgent Dallas defense. Vander Esch finished the year third in the NFL in tackles with 140, when he started off the year as a rotation linebacker for the Cowboys. Colloquially, I call him the “tackling Dutchman” although “The Flying Dutchman” would fit just as well. He paired his 140 tackles with 2 interceptions and 7 passes defensed. There is a case to be made for Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts, but I urge voters to consider the impact of the Cowboys’ first-rounder out of Boise State, especially because he didn’t have a starting job until Sean Lee went down in Week 4.
Comeback Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, DE Houston Texans
This is a player who has seen his fair share of years ravaged by injuries despite being recognized as one of the most dynamic playmakers on defense. As the captain of the Texans on defense, he sets the tone well as he accounted for 61 tackles, 16 sacks (second to Aaron Donald), and 7 passes defensed from his defensive end spot. While a lot has been said about the year Andrew Luck put together, Watt helped turn around a Texans defense and provide it with a pass rushing consistency that is paramount in the pass-heavy NFL. His return took a team that ranked 20th in total defense and 23rd in defense efficiency rating in 2017 when he played five games and catapulted it to 12th in total defense and 7th in defense efficiency rating in 2018 when he played a full season. He has a clear impact on this Texans defense, and voters should take that into account when they fill out their ballots.
Coach of the Year: Doug Pederson, Philadelphia Eagles
Maybe I like being different on these picks, but some variety is important in life. Matt Nagy is most likely the man who will hoist this award. I have nothing against what the Bears did this year, but Nagy benefited from an incredibly healthy starting defense that happened to be the best in the NFL led by Khalil Mack, and an offense that was able to find the end zone frequently enough for the defense to deliver them games. Pederson had to deal with a year in which he only got 11 games from Carson Wentz, had to explore numerous options at running back, and then had to win his final three games with Nick Foles to make the playoffs. To me, that signals an incredible job coaching a team that had health problems on both sides of the ball and dealt with a Super Bowl hangover for most of the year. Maybe he isn’t a popular bet to win the award twice in a row, but he has proven that he knows what he is doing when it comes to coaching a football team to win games.
Wild Card Weekend
Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans
Prediction: Colts 24-20
Seattle Seahawks @ Dallas Cowboys
Prediction: Cowboys 31-28
Los Angeles Chargers @ Baltimore Ravens
Prediction: Ravens 18-12 (OT)
Philadelphia Eagles @ Chicago Bears
Prediction: Bears 24-10
Indianapolis Colts @ Kansas City Chiefs
Prediction: Chiefs 30-23
Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots
Prediction: Ravens 24-23
Dallas Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints
Prediction: Saints 17-10
Chicago Bears @ Los Angeles Rams
Prediction: Bears 27-24
Conference Championship Round
Baltimore Ravens @ Kansas City Chiefs
Prediction: Ravens 17-16
Chicago Bears @ New Orleans Saints
Prediction: Bears 26-20
Baltimore Ravens vs. Chicago Bears
Prediction: Ravens 27-20
Do you have your own ideas about predictions? Feel free to leave us a comment with who you think will win and where I went wrong.