Super Bowl: San Francisco 49ers defeat Denver Broncos
I have the 49ers defeating the Broncos to win Super Bowl 48 in New York. The top of the AFC appears a little watered down this year, so Denver should be able to reach the big one this year. The 49ers are the best team pound-for-pound in my opinion.
Super Bowl MVP: Colin Kaepernick, Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will show up in a big way in this game, both through the air and on the ground. Pressure from Denver’s Von Miller will force Kaepernick to make plays with his legs. Not to mention, the winning quarterback always has the upper hand in the MVP race.
The Falcons quarterback will lead his team to the NFC Championship for the second year in a row, but will fall short to San Francisco once again. Ryan will have similar stats to his 4,700 passing yards and 32 touchdowns from 2012, as Atlanta finishes the regular season as the NFC’s 2nd seed.
AP Coach of the Year: Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers
First-year head coaches that lead a team from the cellar to a possible playoff team often sit in the driver’s seat when it comes to winning Coach of the Year. Mike McCoy will return the Chargers back to a competitive team in the AFC. San Diego will have a tough time fighting Kansas City for a wild card berth, but it can be done.
NFL Offensive Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback, Green Bay Packers
This isn’t a choice that can really be disputed. There are a handful of elite candidates, but no one can argue with Aaron Rodgers winning the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year award. Although Green Bay lost wide receivers Greg Jennings and Donald Driver during the offseason, existing receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones showed vast improvement last season. They, along with Jordy Nelson will be making plays for Rodgers all year long.
J.J. Watt will repeat as this year’s Defensive Player of the Year. Us Colts fans see firsthand what the animal is capable of twice per year, as he destroys offensive lines and puts his banana hands into the quarterbacks’ passing lanes. Just watching him play, you can’t find a more dominant defensive player on the field. He might be one of the only 3-4 defensive end that other teams have to game plan for in the entire NFL.
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver, St. Louis Rams
This selection comes down to three choices for me – Tavon Austin, DeAndre Hopkins and Le’Veon Bell. I give the edge to Austin because of how often St. Louis may use him. I would not be shocked to see him be used similar to Wes Welker in the passing game which should yield 80-90 receptions. On top of that, he is rumored to be taking handoffs in the backfield as well as special teams returns. He will have the sexy stats that voters look for. Hopkins will have a big impact on his team, but will not put up the same numbers as Austin. Bell will also have a huge impact on the Steelers – maybe even be the team’s MVP. However, 2012 rookie half backs Alfred Morris and Doug Martin ran for 1,600 yards and 1,400 yards, respectively and were still overshadowed by the trio of Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson.
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: Manti Te’o, Linebacker, San Diego Chargers
I think most people probably believe one of the primary first round pass rushers will win this award. However, I think they will all face a steep learning curve. They will all have success in their careers (I’m sure), but none of them will set the world on fire in their rookie campaigns like Von Miller. On the flip side, Manti Te’o should be an immediate starter in a defense that fits him perfectly. I seriously doubt he will have the takeaway numbers he had in his senior season at Notre Dame, but I do expect him to eclipse 100 tackles and notch a sack or two. Mix in the fact that San Diego as a team should come back as a success in 2013 and it will make him look better.
NFL Comeback Player of the Year: Maurice Jones-Drew, Running back, Jacksonville Jaguars
A popular pick for this award will be Robert Griffin III. Why? He missed one regular season game, and didn’t even suffer his season-ending injury until the Redskins’ final game of the year. He’s a great player, but if that qualifies him for Comeback Player of the Year then I nominate Christian Ponder since he missed the Vikings’ Wild Card playoff game. My sensible pick is for Maurice Jones-Drew. He was already awesome, and now the Jaguars have added Luke Joeckel to their offensive line. He is another year older, but I don’t see MJD slowing down just yet. I expect another 1,400 or so yards from him.
Sporting News Executive of the Year: John Schneider, Seattle Seahawks
John Schneider deserved to be in the mix for this award a little more than he was in 2012, but he happened to be going against the Colts’ Ryan Grigson and the Broncos’ John Elway. After bolstering an already loaded roster, I fully expect Seattle to be an elite team in 2013. Although they may not make it to the Super Bowl, Seattle will make it to the playoffs again.
The most improved player I predict for the 2013 season is Cardinals’ second-year wide receiver Michael Floyd. Floyd was drafted high out of Notre Dame in 2012, but failed to live up to the hype in his first year. Aside from his learning curve, many things contributed to this such as the horrible quarterback situation as well as the just-as-bad offensive line woes. However, new head coach Bruce Arians has brought in a pass-happy vertical offense along with a competent quarterback and new pieces on the offensive line. Having Larry Fitzgerald on the opposite side of him will also ensure that Floyd will have opportunities to dominate man-to-man situations. Floyd will deliver in year two and make himself a household name.
TBF 12th Man of the Year: Darren Sproles, Running back, New Orleans Saints
This award goes to the best player that is not a starter on his team. Darren Sproles in the type of player his team brings onto the field when they need a big play. He is used as a running back, receiver and kick returner. He is like a tiny Swiss Army knife. Drew Brees’ reliance on Sproles will show through once more this season and he racks up gobs and gobs of important all-purpose yards.
TBF Unsung Hero of the Year: Cameron Wake, Defensive End, Miami Dolphins
This award goes to a player who performs as well as the best, but does not get the recognition they deserve. Cameron Wake is a player who consistently puts up impressive numbers but never gets recognized with the game’s other elite pass rushers due to the lack of success the Dolphins have had. Miami will improve this year, and Wake will continue to put up his impressive sack/pressure totals. Hopefully Wake finally gets the respect he deserves.
With 2,300 all-purpose yards and 9 touchdowns in 2012, it would be easy to argue that Packers offensive weapon Randall Cobb is already on the scene. If so, then who was talking about him? With Donald Driver and Greg Jennings out of the picture, Cobb can truly become one of Aaron Rodgers’ main options in Green Bay. Although they have appeared to improve their rushing attack, don’t be surprised to see the Pack continue to spread the ball around in the air and for Cobb to be the recipient of a ton of Rodgers’ throws. If he also continues to return kicks and punts and take handoffs out of the backfield, Cobb will continue to prove why he is one of the most exciting players in football.
TBF Better Late Than Never Award: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Wide Receiver, Indianapolis Colts
This award goes to a player who has not lived up to the expectations/standards set for them so far in their career, but will turn it around in 2013. For me, the selection is easy; Darrius Heyward-Bey. Although everyone would agree that being selected #7 overall was too early for him, he still should have been selected in the first round. Due to various reasons (including Oakland’s revolving door of coaches and quarterbacks), DHB has yet to really break out and prove his worth. Now that he is with the best organization, best quarterback, best receiving corps and most capable of winning team he has ever been on, why would he not break out? Indianapolis’ new offense is presumed to be a run-first emphasis, but it still needs a playmaking vertical threat on the outside, which is exactly what Heyward-Bey can provide. In my opinion, this is exactly what DHB needs to turn it all around.
TBF Most Disappointing Team of the Year: Kansas City Chiefs
Although Kansas City finished in the cellar of the entire league in 2012, most people have high expectations for them this year. They went out and got a top notch coach, a new quarterback to run the system and they now have a pair of offensive tackles that wouldn’t let air through a screen door. Sounds like a good setup, no? Unfortunately for the Chiefs, they play in a division with the Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers haven’t been so hot lately, but I see that turning around in 2013. They have a fairly easy schedule (only face five playoff teams from 2012), but they have four of their games against Denver and San Diego, and three of their final four games are on the road. There is a strong possibility that this team, which is built to make the playoffs, misses the playoffs altogether and finishes third in their division.
I’ll start off by saying I don’t think Joe Flacco is as good as the Ravens think he is. However, I understand their predicament this offseason. Their QB was a free agent, good quarterbacks are hard to find and although he isn’t that great, he did help propel them to a Super Bowl title. Unfortunately for them, they traded away their best receiver. Anquan Boldin was amazing in the playoffs and although he is getting older, still could make all of the tough catches. You take away Flacco’s best receiver and add in that his center retired, that is not going to help Flacco out at all. Let’s not mention the fact that he has a ridiculous contract to live up to. Remember when $100 million contracts were only reserved for elite quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady?
Quarterback: Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Runningback: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Fullback: Marcel Reece, Oakland Raiders
Wide Receiver: Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
Wide Receiver: A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
Tight End: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
Tackle: Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns
Tackle: Duane Brown, Houston Texans
Guard: Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens
Guard: Mike Iupati, San Francisco 49ers
Center: Nick Mangold, New York Jets
Defensive End: JJ Watt, Houston Texans
Defensive End: Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins
Defensive Tackle: Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals
Defensive Tackle: Vince Wilfork, New England Patriots
Linebacker: Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49ers
Linebacker: Von Miller, Denver Broncos
Linebacker: Aldon Smith, San Francisco 49ers
Cornerback: Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks
Cornerback: Darrelle Revis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Safety: Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks
Safety: Reshad Jones, Miami Dolphins
Kicker: Blair Walsh, Minnesota Vikings
Punter: Thomas Morstead, New Orleans Saints
Kick Returner: Jacoby Jones, Baltimore Ravens
Punt Returner: Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals