Saturday 16 December 2017 / 08:43 AM

NFC 2016-17 AWARDS PREDICTIONS

As we wind down the previews for the upcoming NFL season, it’s time to give you our predictions for the various awards for the season. We will do one for the NFC, the AFC, and wrap it up with MVP picks for the season. We’ll also debut our first Commentary Box Sports Power Rankings before Week One. Without further adieu, let’s get started:

Offensive Player of the Year

1. Cam Newton
2. Aaron Rodgers
3. Adrian Peterson
4. Carson Palmer
5. Andrew Luck
Wild Card: Russell Wilson, Dez Bryant, Ben Roethlisberer,

The race for the Offensive Player of the year will, of course, be a quarterback race. Cam Newton is my pick, based on his MVP performance from last season, and the addition of resources in an improved receiving group that will put up some serious points.

Behind him, Aaron Rodgers returns with something to prove, and will put up numbers. Adrian Peterson is my top non-QB, as he looks to continue to be the feature player of a talented Minnesota team that all of a sudden looks really run dependent without potentially Teddy Bridgewater. Carson Palmer is the QB of possibly the best offense in the NFC, so he should have another solid season.

My last two are the two with the highest upside on the list. Dez Bryant is going to have another career year being the go-to target of an injured Dallas team, as Prescott already favors the top receiver. He could have a monster season. Russell Wilson also no longer has Marshawn Lynch, and will have to put up some big numbers to keep up the pace, and could turn some heads.

Defensive Player of the Year

1. Khalil Mack
2. Luke Kuechly
3. JJ Watt
4. Von Miller
Wild Cards: Josh Norman, Richard Sherman

The Defensive Player of the Year race will again come down to some usual candidates, but I’m taking a swing at saying it will be a fresh face in 2016-17. As your resident Raider believer, sign me up for much more Khalil Mack. Mack will headline a defense that should be MUCH improved from last year, and may carry his team into the postseason. For that, the award is not out of the question.

Behind him, Luke Kuechly should anchor the best defense in football, and will again vie for the award. JJ Watt is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and the only thing I think will knock him from that perch this season is the lingering injury he’s been dealing with that’s sidelined him for the preseason. I’ve got doubts about how great he will be, though I doubt there will be much drop off.

Of course you can’t leave out the reigning Super Bowl Champion, and Madden 17 cover boy Von Miller. Miller returns to a Broncos defense that will feature him more this time around, and I think Miller’s support isn’t quite as strong as last year. This means more of an opportunity to stand out, but it also means the defense will drop off.

As far as others to consider, take your pick on corners. We’ve got some great ones, but I don’t think one will seriously contend.

Most Valuable Player

1. Cam Newton
2. Ben Roethlisberer
3. Carson Palmer
4. Russell Wilson
5. Aaron Rodgers
Wild Cards: Tom Brady Adrian Peterson

It’s hard to pick anyone other than Cam, right? Cam has to be the favorite to win the award, given that he’s the reigning MVP on a team that got better over the offseason. His passing stats should go up, and I’m thinking Cam is a safe bet to repeat for right now.

Ben is the QB behind the best offense in the league, talent-wise, and should put up insane numbers. Carson Palmer is a favorite because the Cardinals are going to be good all over again, and if he can bring them to an NFC title game, it’s hard to bet against him. Russell Wilson will have to carry his squad on offense without Lynch, which plays in his favor for stats. And if they can upend the Cardinals for that division, it would be an impressive feat.

Rodgers and Brady are on the same level, both dealing with teams that had rough ends to last season, and both looking to prove something. Brady sitting out four games hurts, but he should have a mean streak when he comes back. Rodgers will put up insane numbers.

Peterson is my dark horse with the nagging Bridgewater injury. If he carries this team to the postseason, or over the Packers, you have to give him the trophy.

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About the author

Austin Albertson

Austin is CBS' senior NFL and NBA analyst, bringing you commentary on everything between the lines and inside the hashes, from the film room to the scoreboard.

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