Predictions on the standings of each division in both conferences were made, so in this one, we will take a look at the awards and playoff predictions.
Coach of the Year
For each voter, this award has a different meaning, like the Most Valuable Player award. Some people will view it as who coached his team to the best record? While the best coaching job can also be doing something positive that no one expected, even though it isn’t the best record. Expectations have a lot to do with it. I’m going with a coach who has a great roster at his disposal for a franchise that always disappoints, but this is the year all that changes.
Pick: Anthony Lynn, Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers will win the AFC West, which may be the toughest one in the conference, and the offense will be elite, while the defense will be among the most disruptive in the league.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
This one is a bit more wide open than the Offensive Rookie of the Year, but there are some decent selections such as linebacker Roquan Smith, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Denzel Ward. But this award is one man’s to lose.
Pick: Bradley Chubb, OLB, Denver Broncos
Chubb probably should have been the first player selected in the draft. He has the talent to step in right away and wreak havoc at an elite level. Pairing him alongside Von Miller will be an offense’s worst nightmare, and having Miller there will prevent offenses from keying in on the rookie, allowing him to put up impressive numbers in his first season that would make him seem like a seasoned veteran. Think Joey Bosa.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
This one comes down to the crosstown rookie rivals in Saquon Barkley vs. Sam Darnold. Darnold will be the most successful rookie quarterback in the class because he gets the opportunity to start from Week One, unlike the others, thus helping his case for the ROY. But Barkley is a stud too and will be number one on his depth chart and play a vital factor in the Giants’ success.
Pick: Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
Darnold is going to struggle a bit, especially at the beginning of the season because of his supporting cast, or lack thereof. Barkley is in a better situation, and not the focal point of the offense. The Giants have beefed up the offensive line, creating gaps for him and allowing Eli Manning to take advantage of the excellent receiving options the team has. This will remove some pressure off Barkley and will allow his home run-play ability to shine more, leading to over 1,000 yards rushing, a challenge for double-digit scores, and helping the Giants get back into playoff contention.
Defensive Player of the Year
Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack have won the last two of these, so should be considered the favorites. Save for J.J. Watt, however; we have not seen many repeat winners, let alone back-to-back or two out of three times. But, both got paid so you can expect to get back to work and focus on getting better if that’s even possible. But it’s time for someone else to join the fray and their elite tier.
Pick: Joey Bosa, DE, Los Angeles Chargers
Bosa is one-half of the NFL’s scariest defensive duo. He has been a monster in his first two seasons but looks like he will only get better. As a rookie, he played in just 11 games because of injury but recorded 10.5 sacks, 29 tackles, and 12 tackle assists as a defensive end, en route to winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. And last year, in a full season, he had 12.5 sacks, 54 tackles, and 16 assists, with four forced fumbles. He was a true haymaker and game-changer, and with a stout defense supporting him, expect him to dominate in his third season.
Offensive Player of the Year and MVP
Offensive Player of the Year and MVP winners are usually the same, but there are years where they are different. For example, last season, Todd Gurley won the OPOY while Tom Brady won the MVP. This season, I believe we will see the same guy win both. Usually, this award is a quarterback’s to lose, but every so often, we will see a running back win either of them. But this is not that year.
Pick: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
HE’S BACK. And this time with a vengeance. The last time he hurt his collarbone, Rodgers led the league in touchdowns and won the MVP the following season. You should expect more of the same, but even more. Aaron Rodgers is in line to have, perhaps, the best season of his career, which sounds crazy because he already had the single greatest statistical season for a quarterback ever, back in 2011-2012. But things are lining up for us to potentially see the best version of the best quarterback in the game.
And it helps that he will be playing a third-place schedule due to the Packers’ struggles without him. He also may not have much of a ground game to support him, requiring him to fling it even more, but he has the pass-catching weapons to support him in this. And when he turns this franchise around again, people will realize just who the single most valuable player in the NFL is.
Going off my standings projections, here is what I believe the playoff seeding will look like.
- New England Patriots
- Pittsburg Steelers
- Los Angeles Chargers
- Houston Texans
- Baltimore Raven
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Green Bay Packers
- Los Angeles Rams
- Philadelphia Eagles
- New Orleans Saints
- Minnesota Vikings
- Carolina Panthers
AFC Wild Card
#5 Ravens at #4 Texans– Winner: Ravens
#6 Jaguars at #3 Chargers – Winner: Chargers
NFC Wild Card
#5 Vikings at #4 Saints- Winner: Saints
#6 Panthers at #3 Eagles- Winner: Panthers
AFC Divisional Round
#5 Ravens at #1 Patriots- Winner: Patriots
#3 Chargers at #2 Steelers- Winner: Chargers
NFC Divisional Round
#6 Panthers at #1 Packers- Winner: Packers
#4 Saints at #2 Rams- Winner: Rams
#3 Chargers at #1 Patriots- Winner: Chargers
#2 Rams at #1 Packers- Winner: Packers
Super Bowl Matchup
Green Bay Packers vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Super Bowl LIII Champion: Green Bay Packers