In celebration of the opening NFL Sunday, we had our writers here at Stripe Hype do a roundtable on how they believe the 2012 NFL season will unfold. We did an in-depth breakdown of all the key storylines, potential award winners, playoff scenarios, and players to watch as NFL Sunday’s are finally here again:
Shawn Maher’s Predictions:
MVP - Drew Brees
If there is anyone who can put to rest the ugliness of a union dispute coupled with contract negotiations, it’s Drew Brees. Considering that he will practically be the de facto head coach for the first six weeks of the season, he is a shoo-in for the MVP if he puts up anywhere near last year’s extraordinary numbers.
Offensive Rookie of the Year - Andrew Luck
While Russell Wilson will win the feel-good points, there will be no disputing that Andrew Luck is far and away the best of his draft class. Spending so much time in the spotlight, he was definitely over-scrutinized, but he stepped in the league ready to play at a near-Pro-Bowl level.
Defensive Rookie of the Year - Chandler Jones
The Patriots defense has suffered through mediocre pass-rushers for years, handicapping Tom Brady through some of the most productive years of his career. Chandler Jones is and every down player, and one who can wreak havoc on the edge and clean up after Vince Wilfork collapses the middle of the pocket.
Defensive Player of the Year - Jason Pierre-Paul
The scariest thing about Jason Pierre-Paul is that he has not even begun to really refine his technique. Once he becomes a player that truly understands his scheme, his ability to make plays anywhere on the line of scrimmage will be invaluable in keeping the dynasty alive in New York. He is the prototypical boom-or-bust prospect that boomed.
Most Improved Player - Evan Moore
Although grossly misused in Cleveland, Moore has a fresh start with a franchise that could really use his talents immediately. Brought in to replace the departed Kellen Winslow, Moore is ready to become the reliable target for a rookie quarterback in Russell Wilson. His size/speed combination is otherworldly and he provides a huge target for a little quarterback.
Comeback Player of the Year - Thomas Davis
The fact that he made a 53-man roster after becoming the first football player ever to return after tearing the same ACL three times is amazing enough on its own merit. Considering that he looks to contribute significantly to the Panthers’ defense says even more. If he can provide the sideline-to-sideline playmaking ability that once made him an up-and-comer, then he should win, no question.
Each year, the Super Bowl seems to feature one expected team and one surprise. In the AFC, the depth of Super-Bowl contenders is much more shallow, and the Patriots make a repeat appearance. In the much deeper NFC, however, the Falcons finally put it all together and make it back to the Super Bowl with a much more talented team than in the Dirty Bird days.
Super Bowl Champions - New England Patriots
This team has been built to win now, and Tom Brady is going to keep playing out of his mind. With a defense that finally has a pass rush, wide receivers that can take the top off a defense, and the continued presence of the most amazing tight-end duo in NFL history, it’s hard to bet against the Pats.
Bengals to make the Pro Bowl