Finally, the new NFL season begins Thursday night with the New England Patriots hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium.
We have a long way to go before any awards are handed out, but it’s never too early to predict who will win the most prestigious hardware.
Here are some predictions for the 2015 NFL awards.
Most Valuable Player: Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Brady has won this award twice and one of them came in 2007, when he and the rest of the Patriots were angry about Spygate. With the Deflategate scandal ruining what should have been a really fun offseason as the defending Super Bowl champions, don’t expect Brady and the Pats offense to show any mercy.
Brady will put up incredible stats and secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs for the Patriots, giving voters a relatively easy choice for MVP.
Offensive Player of the Year: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck finished third in passing yards last season with 4,761, third in attempts with 616 and led all quarterbacks with 40 touchdown passes.
This might be the season he hits the 5,000-yard mark, especially if young receivers T.Y Hilton and Donte Moncrief keep improving. The additions of veteran receiver Andre Johnson and running back Frank Gore will make an already dangerous Colts offense even more potent.
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Were you really expecting anyone else?
J.J. Watt finished second in MVP voting last season and established himself as the most dominant defensive player in the game. Watt is expected to hit the 20-sack mark again, and his job in 2015 might even be a little easier if new Texans defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and former No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney stay healthy.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders
Julio Jones is the best receiver to come out of Alabama in the last 25 years, but that distinction may soon be attached to Amari Cooper. The Raiders selected him with the fourth pick in the 2015 draft, and he played very well in the preseason, in addition to becoming second-year quarterback Derek Carr’s top target.
Cooper is the clear choice for this award based on his extraordinary talent and opportunity to play a No. 1 role. Only an injury would derail him.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Vic Beasley, DE, Atlanta Falcons
The former Clemson Tigers star will start at defensive end in Week 1. He’s an excellent pass rusher and likely to hit double-digit sacks, a stat voters tend to base a lot of their decision on when it comes to defensive awards.
Comeback Player of the Year: Eric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs
Eric Berry beat cancer and now he’s back in the Chiefs starting lineup at safety. He will make an already-excellent Kansas City defense better, even if he’s only 75 percent of the player he was before the illness.
Coach of the Year: Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings
These awards usually are won by coaches who lead the most improved teams. The Minnesota Vikings are expected to make a push for a playoff spot in 2015, and they have a realistic chance of achieving that goal with the emergence of second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and the return of former All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson.
Mike Zimmer, who’s also made a tremendous impact on the Vikings defense, will be rewarded for his work in Minnesota this season.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Oct 26, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) screams prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
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