1. Tom Brady, QB
Predicted Stats: 4600 passing yards, 39 passing TDs, 10 int
It’s really, really hard to go against Tom Brady or Peyton Manning in the preseason for MVP, because come the end of the year you know they’ll be getting votes. Brady loves to show off whenever the Patriots are facing adversity. The Aaron Hernandez situation. Gronkowski’s injuries. The loss of Wes Welker. Everyone seems to think that the Pats will rely on run the ball this year, but I think Brady just goes off.
2. Russell Wilson, QB
Predicted Stats: 3500 passing Yards, 750 rushing yards, 36 total TDs, 10 int
With 26 TD on the year, it was Russell Wilson, not Andrew Luck, who tied Peyton Manning’s rookie TD passing record. Wilson also added 4 rushing TD, bringing his TD total to 30 against only 13 total turnovers as he was learning the offense. His grasp of the game improved each week, as he showed poise and leadership beyond his years on his way to a road playoff victory. Even if his stats don’t dwarf those of his rivals by the end of the year, there’s no doubt in my mind that Wilson would have done more for his team than almost any other offensive player in the NFL.
3. Adrian Peterson, RB
Predicted Stats: 365 touches, 1900 total yards, 12 TDs
I just would like to say that if AP does what he did last season, HE WILL WIN MVP AGAIN. I don’t see it happening, and with voters go crazy over QBs every year, anything short of 2000 yards will just fall short.
4. Peyton Manning, QB
Predicted Stats: 4450 passing yards, 34 passing TDs, 15 int.
See Tom Brady for why Manning has a shot at winning this thing. I actually think Manning not improve much, if at all this season. The addition of Wes Welker is nice, but he’ll be stealing catches from other guys. It’s not like you can just add his numbers into the offense without taking any away. With Monte Ball now in the mix, Denver might be curious about running the ball, especially in the red zone. And I believe their defense will be a shell of itself without Von Miller for the first 6 games of the season, which could adversely effect the offense. It’s not necessarily a knock on manning that he isn’t higher, I just don’t trust his team.
Sleeper: CJ Spiller, RB
Predicted Stats: 325 touches, 2050 total yards,11 TDs
I’m assuming here that he gets the bulk of the carries for Buffalo, and this projection definitely seems like a best case scenario. But consider this: the Bills have added some deep threats to spread the field which will open up running lanes, and EJ Manuel loves looking for his check down guys as a security blanket. I think Spiller can catch 60 or 70 balls in this offense. He had 1700 total yards last season on only 250 touches, and averaged 6 yards per carry and 10 yards per reception . Assuming he gets around 260 carries, this projections actually seems a bit on the low end going by last seasons numbers. He’s the real deal, and all the pieces seem to be lining up for him to explode in Buffalo.
Defensive Player of the Year
1. Luke Kuechly, MLB
Predicted Stats: 118 Tackles, 7 forced turnovers, 3.5 sacks, 10 pass deflections
He’s coming off winning Defensive Rookie of the Year, and, like J.J. Watt last season, will take huge strides in his sophomore campaign. Kuechly will also have the luxury of playing alongside Jon Beason this year, which will give him more freedom to roam the middle of the field.
2. JJ Watt, DE
Predicted Stats: 60 Tackles, 4 forced turnovers, 16.5 sacks, 9 pass deflections
He’s the reigning DPOY and could win it again. But I see the Texans’ defense regressing a bit this season, and Watt won’t repeat his 16 pass deflections from last year, which gave him so much of his hype.
3. Richard Sherman, CB
Predicted Stats: 44 tackles, 8 forced turnovers, 1 sack, 32 pass deflections
The guy’s huge, fast, extremely physical, and a smart defender. He plays with more outspoken confidence than any other defensive-back in the NFL right now and he’s only entering his third season. There are a lot of talented players on the young Seahawks defense, but when all is said and done, Sherman is the key.
4. Aldon Smith, LB
Predicted Stats: 45 tackles, 3 forced turnovers, 14.5 sacks, 3 pass deflections
I’m not sure why, but I see some digression this year for Smith. Not as extreme as it was for JPP last season after his sophomore effort, but still significant enough to kill some of the hype. I hope I’m wrong and he gets 25 sacks this year, I just don’t think it’s the more likely outcome.
5. Daryl Washington, LB
Predicted Stats: 112 tackles, 4 forced turnovers, 13 sacks, 6 pass deflections
An underdog in the race for sure, but if the Cardinals are as good as I think they will be on defense this year, Washington can make a real name for himself. His sacks have gone up each of his first three seasons, he creates turnovers and could becoming the leader of the defense.
Sleeper: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE
Predicted Stats: 35 tackles, 4 forced turnovers, 7 sacks, 3 pass deflections
Wilkerson could easily finish the season as the most powerful defensive lineman in the league. Because of the nature of Rex Ryan’s defensive scheme and Wilkerson’s position the statistics probably won’t stand out enough for him to get votes, but if the Jets wind up having an elite defense again, you can bet that Wilkerson played a huge part.
Comeback Player of the Year
1. Darrelle Revis
Predicted Stats: 40 tackles, 5 total turnovers, 0 sacks, 24 pass deflections
I would love to think Revis Island could bring home the Defensive Player of the Year award a year removed from his ACL injury, but if what he did during his phenomenal 2009 campaign wasn’t enough to impress voters, I’m not sure he’ll ever win. However, if he’s two thirds the player he was for New York before he went down he should have this one in the bag.
2. Maurice Jones-Drew
Predicted Stats: 330 touches, 1500 total yards, 7 TDs
He led the league in rushing in 2011, and then held out last offseason and promptly got injured when he saw the field. He seemed like he was on the verge of returning all season but never quite made it back. Now his legs are fresh and his offense is as desperate as ever to run him into the ground all season.
3. Alex Smith
Predicted Stats: 3400 passing yards, 150 rushing yards, 24 TDs, 8 Int
It was a concussion and then a coach that kept Smith off the field for the second half of 2012. Now he’s in a new situation, with a faster, pass-catching back in Jamaal Charles, and Dwayne Bowe, the most dangerous wide receiver he’s ever had at his disposal. Plus, head coach Andy Reed is the best at bringing a QBs game to the next level.
4. Jon Beason
Predicted Stats: 105 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 3 forced turnovers, 7 pass deflections
Once regarded as one of the best young interior linebackers around, Beason’s only played 5 games over the last 2 seasons. If he can stay on the field I have no doubts that he’ll solidify Carolina’s defense.
Sleeper: Larry Fitzgerald
Predicted Stats: 100 receptions, 1300 yards, 12 TDs
He’s an outside shot because the only thing Fitzgerald hurt in 2012 was his pride, and the voters like going for guys that actually missed time. That being said, Fitzgerald’s QB paly was so pathetic, they somehow made the leagues second best receiver a non factor, with a stat line of 71 for 798 and 4 TDs. I’m not a huge Carson Palmer fan, but he’s smart enough to know that he should look for Fitz early and often each week, and as long as Palmer has a pulse, Fitzgerald should have a monster year.
Offensive Rookie Of The Year
1. EJ Manuel, QB
Predicted Stats: 2950 passing yards, 265 rushing yards, 20 total TDs, 16 int.
He’s the obvious choice really. Even if he’s not that great, Manuel’s the only QB with a sure path to playing time.
2. Montee Ball, RB
Predicted Stats: 166 carries, 770 yards, 12 TDs
As a comp, I’m looking at something like MJD’s first few seasons minus the receiving bonus. A lot of goal line work but not over used in the offense until his third or forth year, as he developes as a pass blocker.
3. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR
Predicted Stats: 42 receptions, 625 yards, 4 receiving TDs, 3 return TDs
The Vikings got Patterson to replace Percy Harvin in the return game, and he adds a deep threat to stretch the field and open up running lanes for Adrian Peterson.
4. Tavon Austin, WR
Predicted Stats: 75 receptions, 765 yards, 6 TDs
I don’t trust the Rams’ offense enough to think Austin will thrive in his first season. He’s undersized, and with the lack of talent on the team he could get beat up all season. Or he can be the next Victor Cruz. My prediction falls somewhere in the middle.
Sleeper: Zach Sudfeld TE
Predicted Stats: 45 receptions, 545 Yards, 15 rushing yards, 9 TDs
He’s a 6’7” undrafted free agent tight end on the Patriots. What’s not to like? There’s a chance that he never sees the field during the regular season, or he can be Gronk 2.0.
Defensive Rookie Of The Year
1. Ezekiel Ansah, DE
Predicted Stats: 30 tackles, 3 forced turnovers, 4 sacks, 4 pass deflections
His raw ability is tremendous and the Lions put him in a really nice position to thrive right away.
2. Eric Reid, FS
Predicted Stats: 56 tackles, 2 forced turnovers, 0 sack, 6 pass deflections
Assuming Reid wins the starting job, he could be the next of the young Safeties to emerge, following the likes of Earl Thomas, Eric Berry and Jairus Byrd.
3. Dee Miliner, CB
Predicted Stats: 45 tackles, 4 forced turnovers, 0 sacks, 15 pass deflections
Miliner is a talented corner and has a chance to really show off his stuff. Teams will be picking on him often, and if he can handle the pressure he’ll make the best of the situation.
4. Bjorn Werner, DE
Predicted Stats: 24 tackles, 2 forced turnovers, 7 sacks, 6 pass deflections
One of colleges elite defensive players in 2012, he has a similar skill set to that a J.J. Watts. He gets in the face of the QB, can manhandle smaller linemen, and can follow an offensive play as it develops or breaks down. Whether that’ll translate to the pros is another story, but he’s got a shot.
Sleeper: Manti Te’o, LB
Predicted Stats: 90 Tackles, 2 forced turnovers , 4 sacks, 6 pass deflections
A big name that fell significantly in the draft and has kind of been forgotten since. If Te’o’s the game changer he was in college, he’ll be a solid option for the chargers.