If you told us at the start of the 2017 season that Tom Brady would win the NFL MVP award, we’d probably nod in unsurprised agreement.

The whole Sean McVay winning Coach of the Year thing? That was a little more unpredictable.

Trying to predict anything at the start of an NFL season is always difficult, bordering on useless — but that doesn’t usually stop anyone.

With that said, here are 2018 NFL award picks from NESN.com’s Mike Cole and Ricky Doyle.

(Odds via BetOnline.ag)

Aaron Rodgers +500
Carson Wentz +750
Tom Brady +850
Deshaun Watson +1500
Drew Brees +1600
Jimmy Garoppolo +1600
Todd Gurley +2000

Mike: Drew Brees. Realistically, this probably goes to Brady or Rodgers, especially considering how badly each of their respective teams will need them to perform. But we’ll grab some value here with the pick and take Brees at 16-to-1. The Saints are going to be one of the best teams in the NFL, and Brees is coming off a season in which he threw for more than 4,300 yards and 23 touchdowns — and those figures represented a drop-off in production. Without Mark Ingram for the first four games, perhaps Brees will be called on for more production, and that will set the foundation for an MVP-caliber season.
Ricky: Marcus Mariota (+5000). The Tennessee Titans quarterback is coming off a disappointing season, but I believe that largely was a product of both injuries and questionable coaching. Mariota now gets to work alongside a new offensive coordinator, Matt LaFleur, whose last two starting QBs led the NFL in yards per completion. (LaFleur was the quarterbacks coach with Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons in 2016, and then offensive coordinator with Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams in 2017. Ryan was named MVP in 2016, while Goff made a huge second-year jump in 2017.)

Defensive Player of the Year
Aaron Donald +700
JJ Watt +700
Joey Bosa +700
Khalil Mack +700
Von Miller +1200
Jalen Ramsey +1600
Luke Kuechly +2000

Mike: Joey Bosa. The third-year pro is only going to continue to improve, which is a scary thought when you consider the 23 sacks he’s been able to rack up in just 28 games over two seasons. Opposing teams can’t focus solely on Bosa, either, thanks to the presence of Melvin Ingram, which should continue to open up opportunities for the 23-year-old pass-rusher.
Ricky: Von Miller. It’s kind of amazing that Miller, a six-time Pro Bowl pick and a three-time First-Team All-Pro, never has won this award. He’s a future Hall of Famer and has been arguably the NFL’s best defensive player since being drafted second overall in 2011. Anyway, the drought will end this season, especially if fellow edge rusher Bradley Chubb, the fifth overall pick in 2018, taps into his potential. Chubb’s emergence should allow Miller, who’s still in his prime at age 29, to tee off on opposing quarterbacks at will.

Offensive Rookie of the Year
Saquon Barkley +170
Baker Mayfield +600
Sam Darnold +600
Josh Rosen +950
Josh Allen +1000
Rashaad Penny +1500

Mike: Calvin Ridley (+3300). The question with Ridley will be whether he gets enough touches in an Atlanta offense alongside Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. But both of those players have been hobbled by injuries in recent years, which means there could be opportunity for the 6-foot-1, 190-pound wideout who ran a 4.43 40-yard dash. The Falcons offense will get back on track this season, and Ridley will be a big reason why.
Ricky: Royce Freeman (+3000). Freeman, a third-round pick, will become the first rookie running back to start for the Broncos since Terrell Davis in 1995. And it could mark the beginning of something big. Denver’s offensive line isn’t great and Devontae Booker will steal some carries, but Freeman is a patient runner who’s tough to bring down. The blend of opportunity and upside makes Freeman worth a long-shot gamble even though Barkley is hands-down the best running back in this class.

Defensive Rookie of the Year
Bradley Chubb +275
Tremaine Edwards +500
Roquan Smith +500
Denzel Ward +800
Minkah Fitzpatrick +800
Derwin James +1000

Mike: Bradley Chubb. He’s a freak, and he gets to play alongside another freak — Von Miller — who should take away some of the attention. We’ve seen how young pass rushers can make an early impact, and expect the same from Chubb.
Ricky: Derwin James. It’s usually smart to lean toward pass rushers here — only two defensive backs (Marcus Peters, 2015 and Marshon Lattimore, 2017) have won the award since 1998 — but James has excellent range and coverage skills. It’s easy to envision him making a ton of impact plays in the Los Angeles Chargers’ secondary if Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa continue to disrupt opposing quarterbacks like they typically do.

Coach of the Year
Doug Pederson +1000
Matt Nagy +1000
Sean McVay +1200
Anthony Lynn +1300
Bill Belichick +1300
Pat Shurmur +1350
Kyle Shanahan +1400
Mike Zimmer +1400

Mike: Mike Zimmer. It’s about time Zimmer gets some recognition in Minnesota where the Vikings are 39-25 since he took over. They should be one of the best teams in the NFL, and without a true MVP candidate, it should be Zimmer who gets most of the credit.
Ricky: Matt Nagy. I believe the Chicago Bears have a shot at making the playoffs despite going 19-45 over the last four seasons, and Nagy’s arrival is the biggest reason why. He’s a creative offensive mind who should get the most out of second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky while also taking advantage of Chicago’s other weapons, like versatile running back Tarik Cohen.

First coach fired
Dirk Koetter +400
Hue Jackson +400
Vance Joseph +600
Adam Gase +750
Marvin Lewis +1000
Todd Bowles +1200
Jay Gruden +1400

Mike: Jay Gruden. I actually don’t like any of these. If there was a choice to go with “no one,” I’d probably go with that; it just feels like coaches aren’t fired in season anymore. That being said, we’ll go with (Jay) Gruden here. Let’s say Washington struggles in its first three games and gets pounded in Week 3 by the Packers. They could cut ties going into the bye and get a head start on starting over. I guess.
Ricky: Marvin Lewis. I know, I know. It’ll never happen, right? If not this past offseason, then when? Well, Bengals owner Mike Brown basically admitted last season that Cincinnati’s final two games played a role in bringing back Lewis (again), and that tells me he’s not opposed to knee-jerk reactions. A few early losses to so-so competition could spell the end of Lewis’ tenure in Cincy.

Thumbnail photo via Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports Images