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2013 NFL predictions: MVP, Rookie of the Year and much more

  • By NFL.com
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On the cusp of the 2013 NFL season, our analysts provide their predictions, including the winners of individual awards, playoff teams for each conference and picks for Championship Sunday/Super Bowl XLVIII.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

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Judy Battista: Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos. Fully healthy and with the best receivers in the league, Manning will also have a mandate to score early and often to make up for defensive deficiencies.

Gil Brandt: Manning. He completed 68.6 percent of his passes and threw for 4,659 yards last season -- and he started slowly. This year, he'll have the advantage of a better running game and the best receiver group in football -- plus an ascendant young tight end in Julius Thomas.

Albert Breer: Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots. New England's going to win plenty of games this year -- despite all the attrition -- and we'll get another reminder of why it simply doesn't seem to matter who he throws to.

Bucky Brooks: Manning. The 37-year-old veteran enters the season healthy and surrounded by an explosive receiving corps that will allow him to terrorize opponents as the triggerman for a dynamic Denver passing attack that catapults the Broncos to the top of the AFC.

Jeff Darlington: Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons. Having finally won his first playoff game, Ryan is ready to put his career back on a Hall of Fame track. He has the weapons. He has the skills. And now, he'll have a season to remember.

Elliot Harrison: Brady. Facing such low expectations, Brady will carry a no-name receiver group to another stellar offensive season, logging a 10-6 record and nabbing the AFC East crown in the process.

Daniel Jeremiah: Brady. Despite a very chaotic offseason for the Patriots, Brady won't skip a beat. He'll put up huge numbers and remind us all why he's the best in the NFL.

Kimberly Jones: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts. In Year 2, he'll flourish in the Stanford offense, with college coordinator Pep Hamilton now at the switches in Indy. Think fewer picks and sacks, higher completion percentage.

Ian Rapoport: Brady. New receivers, several new tight ends and running backs -- same Tom Brady. This is when he shines: when the NFL doubts that the Patriots will still be the Patriots.

Adam Schein: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers. Offensive-line worries? New running backs? Former receivers questioning his leadership? Whatever. He's the best QB in the business, making everyone around him better.

Michael Silver: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints. Sean Payton returns with a vengeance, and his alter ego goes on a 16-game passing rampage for the ages.



OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Judy Battista: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings. Aren't players better a full year after ACL injuries? In that case, Peterson easily makes up the 8 yards this time and breaks Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record.

Gil Brandt: Manning. He's just so much more ready to play than he was at this time last year.

Albert Breer: Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions. Detroit is going to chuck it a ton (again) and the Lions don't have another big-time option downfield (again). The presence of Reggie Bush will make a difference for the big guy.

Bucky Brooks: Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears. As the focal point of Marc Trestman's wide-open offense, Forte will become just the second back ever -- joining LaDainian Tomlinson -- to post a 1,000/100 season (rushing yards/receptions).

Jeff Darlington: Johnson. A beastly season in 2012 put Johnson into a class reserved for the greatest wide receivers of all time. And this year, he's about to do something nobody has ever done before: eclipse 2,000 receiving yards in a single season.

Elliot Harrison: Peterson. Peterson's ambition and a pretty nice offensive line -- anchored by center John Sullivan, set to be a first-team All-Pro in my book -- leads him to 1,830 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Daniel Jeremiah: Johnson. Megatron might not put up the same yardage totals as he did last season, but he'll approach 20 receiving touchdowns with over 1,500 yards.

Kimberly Jones: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts. See my MVP entry.

Ian Rapoport: Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos. With a more familiar and faster-paced offense, Manning will help his team make up for offensive-line woes and the lack of a pass rush.

Adam Schein: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints. Sean Payton is back. Thus, Brees' gaudy touchdown and yardage totals will be, as well.

Michael Silver: Brees. Tell me, again, why should the MVP and Offensive POY be two different people?



DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Judy Battista: Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina Panthers. Can a middle linebacker, albeit one who was the Defensive Rookie of the Year last season, be the dominant defensive player in the current pass-happy era? Ask Joe Flacco about how disruptive Kuechly can be.

Gil Brandt: Aldon Smith, OLB, San Francisco 49ers. I once said after watching him work out that he looked like Secretariat running against a bunch of plow horses, and that's the way he plays football now. He has so much speed and quickness.

Albert Breer: Richard Sherman, CB, Seattle Seahawks. Seattle will have the best defense in football, and Sherman will be at the center of it all. Mark this down: He'll want to be paid for it after the season.

Bucky Brooks: DeMarcus Ware, DE, Dallas Cowboys. The ninth-year man finally will get his just due after leading the NFL in sacks in the Cowboys' revamped 4-3 scheme. Most importantly, he'll guide the 'Boys back to the playoffs with his spectacular defensive effort.

Jeff Darlington: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans. Watt has more knowledge and experience, and there's no reason to believe his third NFL season won't be his best yet -- which is a ridiculously scary thought.

Elliot Harrison: Cameron Wake, DE/OLB, Miami Dolphins. Benefitting from the addition of Dion Jordan and Brent Grimes, Wake will produce 17 sacks while spearheading a stellar campaign from the Dolphins' overall defense.

Daniel Jeremiah: Watt. In an attempt to shake things up, I tried to come up with another player, but I just couldn't do it. He's the best defender in the NFL right now.

Kimberly Jones: Watt. He tweeted Sunday, "The hunger continues to grow ..." That should be enough.

Ian Rapoport: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions. It started coming together last year, and 2013 will crystalize his emergence among the game's elite. His play will erase previous negativity.

Adam Schein: Terrell Suggs, OLB, Baltimore Ravens. T-Sizzle is fully healthy, ready to carry the Baltimore D and disrupt the QB.

Michael Silver: Sherman. With Brandon Browner on the other side, teams can't completely avoid the league's Most Voluble Player, and Sherman will be a playmaking fiend (again).



OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Judy Battista: Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis Rams. A blazing 81-yard punt return in the preseason gave a glimpse of the speed and shiftiness Austin will use to bedevil opponents.

Gil Brandt: Austin. This guy is like a waterbug with wings; I watched him in camp, and no one could cover him, not even talented cornerback Janoris Jenkins. He had equal success on short and long routes. Austin is tough, has cat-like quickness and doesn't drop the ball. He can also be a factor in the return game.

Albert Breer: Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals. Coaches and teammates were immediately impressed by the Notre Dame product's feel for the game, which will allow him -- immediately -- to help take heat off A.J. Green.

Bucky Brooks: Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals. The shifty speedster will take advantage of the space created by the presence of A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert to post a 1,000-yard season as a rookie.

Jeff Darlington: Austin. The electric weapon will prove, both as a receiver and as a punt returner, why the Rams were wise to move up in the draft to get him.

Elliot Harrison: Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, New England Patriots. Tom Brady has been targeting the undrafted rookie out of Cincinnati quite a bit. With Rob Gronkowski's availability up in the air and a dearth of talent at wideout, Thompkins could put up juicy numbers quickly.

Daniel Jeremiah: Eifert. There are several running backs who could steal this award, but I'm going with the talented tight end. Eifert is an excellent red-zone option, and I won't be surprised if he puts up 10 touchdowns this fall.

Kimberly Jones: Austin. Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Austin's 4.28 speed "is real." Quarterback Sam Bradford is counting on it.

Ian Rapoport: Austin. The electric playmaker has been everything the Rams hoped for -- and more. His true impact will come when opposing defenses start game planning to stop him.

Adam Schein: Austin. The Rams' speedy receiver will be an instant home-run hitter for Sam Bradford.

Michael Silver: Bernard. While superstar A.J. Green and fellow rookie Tyler Eifert help soften up the box, the Bengals' new feature back gives their offense a big boost.



DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Judy Battista: Ziggy Ansah, DE, Detroit Lions. The only question is how quickly he can convert raw ability into production as a disruptor. Early indications -- like nabbing a pick-six against the New York Jets in the preseason -- are promising.

Gil Brandt: Ansah. For someone who has played such little football, Ansah has an unbelievable feel for the game; he can look like a 10-year veteran out there. Because he plays on that tough Lions line, opponents will have a hard time scheming against him. Ansah can have an Aldon Smith-esque rookie campaign.

Albert Breer: Ansah. He has a ways to go developmentally, but he figures to get chances on third downs; playing next to Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley should inflate his sack total.

Bucky Brooks: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers. A two-time All-American at Georgia, Jones will prove that his surprising draft-day slide was unwarranted by notching double-digit sacks as the Steelers' designated pass rusher.

Jeff Darlington: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Miami Dolphins. Say what you want about a slow preseason hindered by recovery from offseason shoulder surgery; Jordan has the athleticism and size to quickly overcome his lack of experience.

Elliot Harrison: Tyrann Mathieu, DB, Arizona Cardinals. At some point, Mathieu's big-play ability is going to be too difficult to keep off the field. Look for Honey Badger to build his brand on defense and in punt returns down the back half of the schedule.

Daniel Jeremiah: Star Lotulelei, DT, Carolina Panthers. The Panthers go back-to-back in this category. Lotulelei is capable of dominating against the run and could easily put up five or six sacks, as well.

Kimberly Jones: Mathieu. Will be a playmaker. With an assist from Patrick Peterson.

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Ian Rapoport: Kenny Vaccaro, S, New Orleans Saints. The Saints are looking to improve mightily on D -- after giving up the most yards in NFL history last season -- and this hard-hitting, versatile sparkplug in the middle will do wonders for them.

Adam Schein: Jordan. I thought Miami plucked the best defensive player available in the draft. Opposite Cameron Wake, Jordan will disrupt the quarterback.

Michael Silver: Alec Ogletree, LB, St. Louis Rams. Jeff Fisher and Les Snead struck it rich with another draft pick. This young 'backer adds playmaking punch to the Rams' defense.



COACH OF THE YEAR

Judy Battista: Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks. A great defense and a Super Bowl run will erase the memories of how badly things ended with the New York Jets and New England Patriots.

Gil Brandt: Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs. Reid really knows what he's doing, both on and off the field, and it showed in the practices that I watched over my two days at Chiefs camp. Reid won with the Eagles and he'll keep winning in Kansas City.

Albert Breer: Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals. Arizona is more talented than most think; the only thing standing in the way of a major step forward for the Cardinals seems to be the division they play in.

Bucky Brooks: Carroll. The charismatic Carroll has received kudos for building a bully in the Pacific Northwest, but guiding the Seahawks to the NFL's best record will earn him well-deserved hardware for his coaching prowess.

Jeff Darlington: Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints. There's no question that mounting a run to the playoffs in the NFC South will be challenging -- which is why Payton's comeback season will be that much more worthy of respect.

Elliot Harrison: Rob Chudzinski, Cleveland Browns. The Browns might not make it to the playoffs, but an eight- or nine-win season in the AFC North would really give AP voters something -- or someone -- to think about.

Daniel Jeremiah: Carroll. The Seahawks are loaded, and Carroll will get plenty of credit after they win the toughest division in the NFL.

Kimberly Jones: Payton. Does he make all the difference for the Saints? Not all, but a lot.

Ian Rapoport: Marc Trestman, Chicago Bears. The most outside-the-box hire will prove to have been just what the Bears and Jay Cutler needed to maximize a plethora of weapons and thrive in the playoffs.

Adam Schein: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots. Nobody shuts up the haters quite like Belichick.

Michael Silver: Reid. Big Red finesses a playoff season out of last year's NFL doormats, reviving his career and creating lofty expectations for 2014.

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