Six of Believe in Boston Sports football writers have gotten together to predict the winners of the major awards for the upcoming 2019 football season. The awards covered will be MVP, Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year, Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year. We will follow up this article with another football preview, predicting the playoff teams and the Super Bowl matchup.
Andy Lykins: (Also a lifetime achievement award for the most kids.) Philip Rivers finally breaks through this season and becomes a prominent contender and centerpiece for a surprise Super Bowl possibility.
Scott Frizzell: I’m going with a bit of a dark horse in Baker Mayfield. I don’t see Mahomes throwing 50 touchdowns for a second straight season, and it seems unlikely he will win two in a row. Mayfield could potentially get 40 touchdowns with the weapons around him and a year under his belt. I think the Browns will add a couple wins to their win total from last year and make the playoffs.
Mike Quilty: Carson Wentz, who is finally healthy, is my top choice for MVP this year. If the Eagles QB can stay healthy I believe we will see the MVP front runner from 2017. With this group of offensive weapons and a great offensive line, Carson will beat out Patrick Mahomes. He’s got all the tools he needs to succeed and a chip on his shoulder.
Darshan Shaastri: Tom Brady is a bit of a bold prediction, but for me it was between Brady and Rodgers. Sophomore slumps are real, and while I don’t think that happens in a big way for Mahomes, I still think he’ll come down to earth. I think his stats will be around the same as Brady and Rodgers, and the W-L record will go to Brady, who has many tools to get stats and wins.
Dante Coppola: Patrick Mahomes is the obvious choice, and the right choice for MVP. In the last ten years, the award has gone to a quarterback every year but one (Adrian Peterson). Mahomes is the best quarterback with the best weapons like Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. His success translates to team success, something you need to be named MVP. The young man can only get better.
Max McAuliffe: The Eagles may just have the best offensive line in football, along with some of the best playmakers in the game. Between Carson Wentz’ extremely strong supporting cast, favorable schedule, and being only two years removed from an MVP caliber season that was cut short due to injury, a healthy Wentz this year is too good to pass up at this spot.
Offensive Player of the Year
Andy Lykins: For the non-QB MVP it’s going to be one of the best Wide Receivers in the game. Julio Jones finally breaks through and posts double-digit touchdowns for only the second season of his career.
Scott Frizzell: Patrick Mahomes seems like a good candidate to repeat, but no player has won this award in back-to-back seasons since Marshall Faulk won three years in a row, 1999-2001. Saquon Barkley will be given all the work he can handle, so I expect him to easily soar past 2000 yards from scrimmage.
Mike Quilty: Since entering the league in 2017, Christian McCaffrey has been a rare talent. The jump from his rookie year to last year was incredible, in both rushing and receiving. The 23 year old has bulked up and should see another year in which his statistics go up. The duel threat racked up 1,098 rushing yards and 867 yards receiving last year, so expect McCaffrey to hit the 1,000 mark in both categories this season.
Darshan Shaastri: I’m all in on DeAndre Hopkins this season. Nuk has the skills and drive to prove he’s the best receiver in the game, and has a good QB at the helm to throw him bombs. I think he’ll have a very good statistical season.
Dante Coppola: Saquon Barkley not only showed us that he deserved being one of the top picks in the draft, but he also showed potential to be the best running back ever. He appears to have still not reached his potential, so we should all expect an equal or better year compared to last year.
Max McAuliffe: With an aging Drew Brees and Mark Ingram now residing in Baltimore, Alvin Kamara has an amazing year three coming up on the horizon. Kamara will be guaranteed to see more touches in a high-powered offense that was fourth last year in red zone efficiency. That uptick in touches will also mean more chances inside the twenty to punch in some touchdowns for this award.
Defensive Player of the Year
Andy Lykins: Stephon Gilmore of the Patriots will win this award. It is going to be difficult to stand out on this good of a defense, but if anyone can do it, it will be a lock-down corner like Gilmore.
Scott Frizzell: I am going to try Khalil Mack for the second year in a row. He had a very good first season in Chicago, but fell short of winning the award last year, as I had predicted. I think he leads a good Chicago defense by approaching 15 sacks this season.
Mike Quilty: The winner of this award for the last two years is Aaron Donald; he is a generational talent. No offensive line in the NFL except the New England Patriots can slow him down. Donald takes on double teams like it’s nothing and gets to the quarterback. He will be the first player to win this award three years in a row, something J.J. Watt and Lawrence Taylor just fell short of.
Darshan Shaastri: Aaron Donald doesn’t require much explanation; I still think he’s the best defensive player in the league. Mack is probably the only player who comes close, and I had to go with Donald on this one.
Dante Coppola: Aaron Donald is too amazing not to pick for this award. He has won DPOY the last two years in a row, and is still in his prime. His defensive teammates take pressure off his shoulders, despite him being key to the Rams success, which allows for him to do his thing.
Max McAuliffe: Want to talk about a guy who looks poised for an absolutely monster year? Look no further than Myles Garrett, who had 13.5 sacks last season and has seemingly improved over the offseason. He has dropped some weight, added some speed, and has been unstoppable in camp and preseason so far.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Andy Lykins: This is Kyler Murray by default. The only rookie that looks to play early, often and at a high profile position. Fully expect some late-round or undrafted rookie to come out of nowhere and steal it.
Scott Frizzell: With Kliff Kingsbury at coach, I expect Kyler Murray to air it out often, especially with the team often playing from behind. Playing behind a suspect offensive line, he will take his bumps and bruises and encounter struggles, but I would not be at all surprised if he went past 4500 yards of offense anyways.
Mike Quilty: The release of Doug Martin allows Josh Jacobs to be the bell cow for the Raiders. The improvement of the offensive line from last year should allow him to run away with this award. He’s a powerful runner with great vision, who can also catch out of the backfield. He won’t be seeing eight men in the box with Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams and JJ Nelson as his teammates, which will allow him to do a lot of damage.
Darshan Shaastri: Daniel Jones is probably the craziest prediction I have ever made, and most people would laugh at this. I like what we’ve seen so far (albeit in the preseason), so I think he’ll prove a lot of people wrong.
Dante Coppola: The safe pick is Kyler Murray, and I have no problem picking him as my favorite for the award. He has the potential to be one of the best rushing quarterbacks in the league, and has a powerful arm to utilize when he stays in the pocket. He has the right coach and veterans to mentor him along the way.
Max McAuliffe: While this is not coming from a huge Kyler Murray fan, another answer other than him would certainly require some explaining. Murray is poised for an RGIII-like rookie season (hopefully minus the injury of course and minus the playoff run).
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Andy Lykins: So many options to choose from. Christian Wilkins is going to be starting for a team that is bad. One of my favorite prospects in the draft and bound to make an impact from day one. I just wish it was on a different team.
Scott Frizzell: There would seem to be several guys likelier to win this award, but my pick is Chase Winovich. I like this guy a lot and am excited to see what he can do. He seems to have a fun attitude that can psych up a defense and has been all over the field making plays in the preseason.
Mike Quilty: Devin Bush, the middle linebacker for the Steelers, will dominate In Pittsburgh’s scheme as so many greats before him have. The Michigan product seems like a perfect match for the Steelers, bringing along not just a pure tackler but a leader as well. Bush could be a major factor for the Steelers chances.
Darshan Shaastri: I like this Bills defense, and first rounder Ed Oliver should be able to make his name known this season.
Dante Coppola: Like my pick for OROY, some consider Nick Bosa the obvious choice for this award. He had a truly spectacular college career, which earned him the 2nd overall pick in this year’s draft. It is said he is even better than his star brother. If he is even half of his brother, the award is his to lose.
Max McAuliffe: Devin Bush and Brian Burns are acceptable answers here, but Quinnen Williams in New York should exceed those two, maybe even in dramatic fashion. Williams is a stud that the Patriots’ division rival should be overjoyed fell into their lap at pick number three.
Coach of the Year
Andy Lykins: The feel good story of the year will be if Frank Reich can rally the Colts and guide them back to the playoffs following Andrew Luck‘s surprise retirement. Can he do it with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback and an improving defense? We’ll find out.
Scott Frizzell: In a continuation of their trend from last year, I am taking Freddie Kitchens to win the award. The Browns went 5-2 down the stretch last year; they would have been a playoff team had they fired Hue Jackson earlier. I think they win double-digit games while racking up points.
Mike Quilty: The first name that came to mind was Frank Reich, but with the loss of Andrew Luck I’ve switched to Kitchens. The Browns have a team stacked with talent on both sides of the ball. I see this team making it to the playoffs easily, something they’ve only accomplished once this century. The Browns are back.
Darshan Shaastri: Bill Belichick. No explanation needed.
Dante Coppola: I see Kyle Shanahan sneakily grabbing the Coach of the Year Award. The 49ers are in a position of success. With their star quarterback coming back to an already solid offense, we could see a new superpower in the league. Their offseason was brilliant, bringing in Dee Ford and Kwon Alexander along with some impressive rookies.
Max McAuliffe: Despite his consistent dominance over each and every head coach in this league, very seldom does Bill Belichick actually win this award. This year, he will not only be the head coach of the team but will also be the defensive play-caller. This might be enough to merit this award if the defense can carry over the success they have had so far.
Feature image from clutchpoints.com