The 2017 NFL season is upon us.
It started with a bang when the Chiefs stunned the Patriots on kickoff night, and the season goes into full swing this weekend with every other team but the Buccaneers and Dolphins (postponed due to Hurricane Irma) in action. This truly is an 'any given Sunday' league. The results are unpredictable. Even with that being said, it can't hurt to predict the league's awards.
MVP - Derek Carr (Raiders)
Derek Carr, in his third season, led the Raiders to a phenomenal 12-3 record. He was remarkably efficient, completing 63.8% of passes for 3937 yards, 28 touchdowns, and just six interceptions before going down with a fractured fibula in Week 16. Carr is only getting better, and he has already earned his place among the NFL's most clutch quarterbacks after a leading a few remarkable comebacks last season. This could be the year he ascends to the top echelon on quarterbacks, and he absolutely has the supporting cast to do so.
Offensive Player of the Year - Le'Veon Bell (Steelers)
The Offensive Player of the Year award is a tough one to grasp. In some years, it goes to the same player that wins the MVP award, yet in others it goes to another standout weapon. I'll go with the latter, as Le'Veon Bell has a chance to put up huge numbers for the Steelers. Bell played in just 12 games but totaled 1884 yards from scrimmage, including 1268 rushing yards. He certainly seems motivated after the Steelers would not give him the contract he wanted this offseason, so a monster year could be incoming.
Defensive Player of the Year - Von Miller (Broncos)
Many believed Von Miller was going to be named Defensive Player of the Year heading into the NFL's award ceremony this past February, but it instead went to Raiders' linebacker Khalil Mack. Miller was the runner-up, and he remains one of the most disruptive players in the game. An all-pro in 2015 and 2016, Miller has totaled double-digit sacks in each full season of his career. It would be a surprise to no one if he finally claimed his first Defensive Player of the Year award this season.
Coach of the Year - Adam Gase (Dolphins)
Adam Gase should have been Coach of the Year in 2016. With virtually the same roster that Joe Philbin and Dan Campbell had the year before, Gase's Dolphins went 10-6 and earned their first playoff berth in eight years. The season-ending injury to Ryan Tannehill could give Gase a leg up on this award, as the voters gave it to Jason Garrett last season after his team saw success despite losing its quarterback in August. If Gase finds a way to stay in playoff contention with Jay Cutler at quarterback, he can win the award at just 39 years of age.
Offensive Rookie of the Year - Christian McCaffrey (Panthers)
I believe Leonard Fournette was the most talented running back in this draft class, but as Fournette deals with lingering injuries and the Panthers increase the buzz around Christian McCaffrey, the Stanford product is looking like the favorite for the award. McCaffrey can be used in a variety of ways on offense, and Carolina seems prepared to let him have a huge role immediately.
Defensive Rookie of the Year - Jamal Adams (Jets)
Myles Garrett's ankle injury is not a major issue long-term, but it will keep him sidelined for the start of the season and could linger when he does step on the field, putting his Defensive Rookie of the Year candidacy in doubt. Meanwhile, Jamal Adams, the sixth overall pick, will be given every opportunity to shine as the focal point of the Jets' secondary. He has the talent to become one of the league's best safeties, and that could translate quickly this season.
Comeback Player of the Year - Marshawn Lynch (Raiders)
I'm not necessarily convinced Marshawn Lynch will come out and look like a new player in 2017, but he is perfectly set up to put up big numbers as the clear feature back with a fantastic offensive line to block for him. Lynch's issues in 2015 seemed to stem from injuries, and it is quite possible the year away from the game rejuvenated his body. This award typically goes to players returning from injury, but 'Beast Mode' could certainly change that with a big year in Oakland.