Gary | Fri 12/08/2016 - 13:51 EDT

NFL Honors Predictions

NFL Honors Predictions
Is it too early for some NFL award predictions? Not at all. The 2016 season hasn't even kicked off yet, but we're already bringing you predictions for the four biggest individual honors in American football. You're welcome. All of our odds will come courtesy of Bovada, Bet Online or Sportsbooks.com.

NFL Award Predictions 2017

By Dan Favale

MVP: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (+700)

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Here’s something you need to know about the NFL’s MVP award: It almost always goes to quarterbacks or running backs.

Don’t believe me? Name the last time a non-quarterback, non-running back took home the hardware. I’ll wait.

Still stumped? Of course you are. Because a non-quarterback, non-running back hasn’t earned the nod since..1986 (Lawrence Taylor). That’s three decades ago. So don’t be seduced by the favorable odds on superstars like Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Antonio Brown and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. They won’t be winning the award. At best, their victory is beyond unlikely.

In today’s NFL, it’s even risky to bet on a running back. They aren’t used as much, because football is now a passing game. Eight of the last nine MVPs have, to that end, been quarterbacks. We are playing to that trend with Aaron Rodgers, who already grabbed this honor in 2014. 

The Green Bay Packers are going to be so much better than they were last season, when they slogged their way to 10 wins thanks in large part to their top-12 defense, not their middling offense. Injuries rued the day, leaving Rodgers without his top target Jordy Nelson. Health also massacred the backfield. Running back Eddie Lacy was barely healthy, and backup John Starks had a hot-and-cold relationship with finding open seams in his offensive line.

That is all going to change in 2016. Nelson is healthy, Randall Cobb is back to being a No. 2 option, No. 3 wide receiver Davante Adams is working off borderline breakout campaign, and Lacy looks to be in the best shape of his career. 

All of this will amount to a high-octane offense that, assuming durability, will finish in the top three or five of points scored per game and touchdowns racked up through the air. This, of course, will reflect well on Rodgers. And the mere thought of what he can do with a fully stocked offense is officially mind-blowing.

To wit: Even with a debilitated supporting cast last season, Rodgers was still only one of two quarterbacks to post a touchdown percentage better than five and an interception rate below 1.5. His company? Some dude named Tom Brady.

Sleeper Pick: Eli Manning, New York Giants (+2500) 

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (-125)

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We’re going with the low-hanging fruit here, because that makes the most sense.

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff would be an interesting option, but more likely than not, any standout success on the offensive side will come courtesy of their running game, which is headlined by Todd Gurley. 

That brings us to Ezekiel Elliott, the rookie running back out of Ohio State who now calls the Dallas Cowboys home. 

To be honest, this pick is more about the Cowbowys than Elliott. Their offensive line is amazing. Look at how DeMarco Murray, now of the Tennessee Titans, fared while on the Philadelphia Eagles last season, his first campaign outside Dallas. And then look Darren McFadden, the eight-year veteran who had the second-best season of his career, in terms of total yards, while running behind Dallas’ offensive line in 2015.

Cowboys fans were irate with the Elliott pick for a reason. They didn’t need to take a running back that high. Their offensive line can open up holes for anyone. But while Dallas’ decision didn’t buy any goodwill among fans, it was a boon for Elliott’s Offensive Rookie of the Year chances.

Sleeper Pick: Josh Doctson, Washington Redskins (+1200) 

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Joey Bosa, San Diego Chargers (N/A)

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Most sportsbooks won’t allow you to bet on the Defensive Rookie of the Year, so we won’t spend much time on it. But some do, so we will still spend some time on it.

The pick here, no matter the odds you find, is San Diego Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa. Yes, I know. This is a borderline cliche. I’m picking the highest drafted defensive player. Yada, yada, yada. But this is about more than that. Bosa, quite simply, is a perfect fit for the Chargers and will get a chance to make an impact right away.

San Diego ranked in the bottom seven of total rushing yards allowed and in the bottom five of total rushing touchdowns allowed last season. Bosa, meanwhile, led the country in tackles for a loss during his three years at Ohio State and even ranked third in total sacks, according to ESPN.com.

Any impact he makes, then, will be felt. And it’ll be obvious. That should help him secure plenty of votes.

Sleeper Pick: Sheldin Rankins, New Orleans Saints (N/A)

Coach of the Year: Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks (+1200)

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Jump on Pete Carroll’s odds if you can. Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians (+600) is also a good pick, but Carroll has never won the award, and his payout is double that of any Arians bet. 

Coach of the Year winners typically come from amazing teams, and the Seattle Seahawks are poised to be just that. Though their 10-win performance last season was borderline disappointing, that was due mostly to a slow start. They rebounded in time to rank inside the top four of both points scored and points allowed per game.

A similar performance this upcoming season will put the Seahawks in the 13-plus win conversation. And that immediately vaults the ever-colorful, and astute, and maniacally brilliant Carroll to the top of our Coach of the Year ladder.

Sleep Pick: Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals (+1400)

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