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2015 NFL award predictions: MVP, Rookie of the Year and more

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On the cusp of the 2015 NFL season, our analysts provide their predictions, including the winners of individual awards, playoff teams for each conference and Championship Sunday/Super Bowl forecasts.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Judy Battista: Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots. Motivated to prove that air pressure had nothing to do with his success, and unleashed by a coach and team happy to prove a point to the NFL, Brady should put up big enough numbers to get the edge over the other leading candidate, Aaron Rodgers.

Jeffri Chadiha: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis ColtsHe has plenty of weapons and an AFC title game appearance on his résumé. The next step? Taking his place among the league's elite.

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Brian Billick: Luck. He has the most passing yards in NFL history by any player in his first three seasons, and this year the Colts have surrounded him with the best roster of skill players to date in his young career.

Michael Silver: Luck. For three years, he has politely elevated himself into elite company. This year, he crushes everybody.

Colleen Wolfe: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers. I've finally Jedi mind tricked myself into spelling his name correctly, so this is definitely his year. The 2014 co-league leader in passing yards has Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant (suspensions acknowledged) and Markus Wheaton to steamroll opposing defenses.

Steve Wyche: Roethlisberger. This offense is scary in so many ways, but the deal-sealer for Big Ben is how HE shines without some of his key pieces early and how he finishes things late in the season.

Gil Brandt: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers. The fact that Rodgers completes 67.45 percent of his passes at home -- outdoors at Lambeau Field -- is nearly unbelievable. He overcame a calf injury to lift the Packers to the NFC title game last season, and he'll overcome the loss of top receiver Jordy Nelson to an ACL tear this season. Rodgers is so good, he could be successful even if his receiver depth chart were filled with names from the list of analysts on this page.

Adam Schein: Rodgers. No Jordy Nelson? Shaky defense? No problem. The best quarterback on the planet dominates yet again and carries Green Bay to the best record in the NFC before guiding the Packers to a Super Bowl title.

Charley Casserly: Luck. He has been rising steadily to this point in his career. The additions of Andre Johnson, Frank Gore and Phillip Dorsett will put him at a new level.

Elliot Harrison: Rodgers. Aaron Rodgers repeats. With no Jordy Nelson, the All-Pro quarterback impresses even more in another stellar campaign ... and wins the passing title.

Marc Sessler: Luck. Already labeled a "football god" by veteran running back Frank Gore, the Colts quarterback has all the talent and tools around him to unleash a monster statistical season through the air.

Dave Dameshek: Rodgers. He's the 21st century's best player until someone demonstrates otherwise. What else is there to say?

Bucky Brooks: Roethlisberger. It's time to appreciate his greatness as a playmaker. I envision a spectacular, 5,000-yard season that catapults the Steelers to the AFC North crown.

 

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Judy Battista: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis ColtsLuck is already universally revered in football circles, but adding Andre Johnson and Phillip Dorsett to his arsenal should elevate the 25-year-old's productivity further, all the way into the MVP conversation, too.

Jeffri Chadiha: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota VikingsHe ran for 2,097 yards when skeptics questioned his surgically repaired knee three years ago. Imagine what he'll do with this chip on his shoulder.

Brian Billick: Peterson. Running backs always thrive in Norv Turner's offense, and Peterson is arguably the best running back Turner's ever had at his disposal -- with all due to respect to our very own LaDainian Tomlinson.

Michael Silver: Luck. If I ever vote for a different Offensive Player of the Year than MVP (on the side of ball in question), crush ME.

Colleen Wolfe: Peterson. Like him or not, Peterson's going to put together an outstanding 2015 season. His talent is unquestioned. Now, with nearly an entire year of rest and something to prove, he's poised to post gaudy numbers.

Steve Wyche: Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs. With a passing game in K.C. that will keep defenses honest, lanes will open for Charles, who is a breakaway threat and a much tougher inside runner than he gets credit for.

Gil Brandt: Luck. He's won 33 regular-season games in the past three years on a team that went 2-14 the season before he took over. Under his direction, the Colts had the best passing offense and third-best overall offense in the NFL in 2014. This season, he'll improve his decision making and toss another 40 touchdown passes.

Adam Schein: Peterson. He's the best running back in the NFL, and he'll carry the Vikings to the postseason.

Charley Casserly: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers. He picks up where he left off last year and has a great season.

Elliot Harrison: Peterson. The Vikings stud returns to rush for more than 1,500 yards while actually catching the 50-some passes he was supposed to catch last season.

Marc Sessler: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers. This award typically falls to the dude who didn't win MVP. Rodgers could coast to either award by just being Rodgers.

Dave Dameshek: Luck. With Gore in the backfield, Luck will now see less traffic when he looks for his speedy receivers in the deep third of the field. Result: a monster statistical season.

Bucky Brooks: Peterson. With a second 2,000-yard season on the way, Peterson will deserve the honor as the NFL's top offensive player.

 

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Judy Battista: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans. If you can find another candidate in his class, let us know. Watt's so dominant that he's is a legitimate candidate for league MVP.

Jeffri Chadiha: Watt. No other defender means more to his team. Period.

Brian Billick: Watt. This is a boring pick because it's so obvious, but nothing about watching Watt play is boring.

Michael Silver: Robert Quinn, DE, St. Louis Rams. Come all without, come all within. You'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn.

Colleen Wolfe: Watt. He's the obvious choice. A lot of people are going to pick him. And they should. He's that good. Sometimes you shouldn't overthink these things. (But I also really like Chris Harris Jr.)

Steve Wyche: NaVorro Bowman, LB, San Francisco 49ers. A lot was lost around him, but he is special enough to make others better. Also plays in a run-heavy division without great opposing offensive lines.

Gil Brandt: Watt. This is a rare cat. Watt has so much athletic ability, he's like a running back on the defensive line. The ultra-competitive dynamo wins his second straight Defensive Player of the Year award (and third in four years).

Adam Schein: Watt. Don't overthink this. He's that special.

Charley Casserly: Watt. He is like Peyton Manning was at one point in his career: You could pick Watt for this award every year.

Elliot Harrison: Lavonte David, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He probably won't win this award because half of America hasn't heard of him, but I am voting for him anyway.

Marc Sessler: Watt. I'm not betting against Watt winning his third DPOY crown when he has the talent to win six over his career.

Dave Dameshek: Justin Houston, LB, Kansas City ChiefsThe vote for Houston here is a vote for justice. Forget 20 years from now: How many fans today know it was the K.C. pass rusher -- NOT J.J. Watt -- who led the NFL in sacks in 2014?

Bucky Brooks: Mario Williams, DE, Buffalo Bills. The energetic pass rusher takes down Michael Strahan's vaunted sack record in his first season under Rex Ryan. Most importantly, he leads the Bills back into the playoffs after a 15-year absence.

 

OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Judy Battista: Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles. Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson had career seasons playing in Chip Kelly's offense. Agholor's speed makes him their natural successor.

Jeffri Chadiha: Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland RaidersHe's the most polished receiver in this draft class and he's about to become Derek Carr's favorite target.

Brian Billick: Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers. San Diego ranked 30th in rushing yards last season; not only will Gordon help turn that around, but his impact in the screen game will be what really shines.

Michael Silver: Agholor. Somebody has to become The Man in Chip Kelly's explosive offense, and this youngster is the most qualified.

Colleen Wolfe: Ameer Abdullah, RB, Detroit Lions. Amari Cooper was close to being the pick here, but Abdullah is really quick and his vision for finding holes and breaking runs gives him the edge. The Lions have been looking for a running back for a while. They found him.

Steve Wyche: Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans. Vikings WR Stefon Diggs is a sleeper here -- a game-breaker who will get the ball in a variety of ways -- but Mariota will help a bad team gain respect.

Gil Brandt: Gordon. Gordon will shake off a rough preseason and climb to the top of his class playing for a team that loves to run and control the ball, while proving to be a threat as a receiver.

Adam Schein: Cooper. This one was tough. I love Ameer Abdullah and Nelson Agholor, who should both put up big numbers. But I think Cooper is going to have a fantastic season catching passes from Derek Carr in Oakland.

Charley Casserly: Cooper. He has a good young QB in Carr and should be the focal point of the offense.

Elliot Harrison: Cooper. How about some Raiders love? Cooper hauls in this award with 80-plus catches in his initial campaign.

Marc Sessler: Cooper. He's the unquestioned top talent among Oakland's receivers. He'll pile up numbers from wire to wire.

Dave Dameshek: Cooper. Yeah, I know: boring pick. (Watch out for Todd Gurley, too ... and draft Famous Jameis for your fantasy team.)

Bucky Brooks: Cooper. The Raiders' WR1 walks away with the award after notching a 100-catch season in Year 1.

 

DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Judy Battista: Vic Beasley, DE, Atlanta Falcons. Coach Dan Quinn will build his aggressive defensive style around the pass-rushing ability of Beasley. Beasley wants to be a four-down player, but voters will like his sack total.

Jeffri Chadiha: Leonard Williams, DE, New York JetsHe's playing on a defense already stocked with talent. He should have plenty of opportunities to make plays.

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Brian Billick: Shaq Thompson, LB, Carolina Panthers. Leonard Williams is the safe pick here, but I'm going out on a limb with Thompson. With offenses keying on fellow linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, Thompson will be free to run around and make a lot of plays this season.

Michael Silver: Ronald Darby, CB, Buffalo Bills. Playing cornerback for Rex Ryan has its advantages, especially with a fierce front four.

Colleen Wolfe: Beasley. The Falcons had a terrible pass rush last year. Now they have a massive, fast defensive end who can terrorize opposing signal callers. Plus, they brought Dan Quinn over from Seattle to overhaul the defense. Good combination.

Steve Wyche: Danny Shelton, NT, Cleveland Browns. He's already shown that he can physically handle himself. Now other guys will be better because of the manpower he'll occupy.

Gil Brandt: Marcus Peters, CB, Kansas City Chiefs. Peters will become the first defensive back to claim this prize since Charles Woodson did it in 1998. Peters can play the run or the pass and has outstanding skills and toughness.

Adam Schein: Kevin Johnson, CB, Houston Texans. With the pass rush Houston is going to generate, give me Kevin Johnson as the Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Charley Casserly: Beasley. Sacks equal headlines. Beasley gets sacks. Headlines equal votes for DROY. It's as simple as that. Just for good measure, though, Stephone Anthony will be a contender, too.

Elliot Harrison: Williams. It took me all of two seconds to think of him. Best player in the draft.

Marc Sessler: Shelton. The Browns have missed on plenty of first-round picks, but not this time. Shelton is a terror.

Dave Dameshek: Shane Ray, LB, Denver Broncos. Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware ... can't block everybody. (Related: That Denver D is gonna be dynamite.)

Bucky Brooks: Kwon Alexander, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The high-motor playmaker serves notice that he is a force to be reckoned with by leading the NFL in tackles as a rookie.

 

COACH OF THE YEAR

Judy Battista: Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings. He should get a few votes simply for how he managed the Adrian Peterson situation in the offseason. But a playoff spot for the Vikings will seal his bid.

Jeffri Chadiha: Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts. The Colts get stronger every year, and Pagano deserves more credit for that.

Brian Billick: Zimmer. In his first season, Zimmer improved the Vikings' defense from dead last in points per game in 2013 to one spot shy of the top-10 in 2014. With an improved offense in 2015, Minnesota will be among the best teams in the NFL this season.

Michael Silver: Jeff Fisher, St. Louis Rams. Against all odds, St. Louis will get excited about the Rams in 2015.

Colleen Wolfe: Zimmer. Bold choice! The Vikings were 7-9 last year. But that was without Adrian Peterson. Now he's back. Teddy Bridgewater heads into his second season after showing accuracy under pressure as a rookie. They added Mike Wallace. (Don't laugh. Stop laughing!) Minny is on the move. Zimmer benefits.

Steve Wyche: Zimmer. He kept a bridge built with how he dealt with Adrian Peterson all summer, he's improved the defense and the Vikes are a playoff-caliber team.

Gil Brandt: Zimmer. The Vikings' second-year coach will lead his squad to the playoffs despite playing in the tough NFC North.

Adam Schein: Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles. What he did in the offseason to improve the roster was masterful. His X's and O's are fantastic. And he will be rewarded when Philly wins the NFC East.

Charley Casserly: Kelly. His bold moves in the offseason pay off, as the Eagles make the playoffs. Rex Ryan will be a close second.

Elliot Harrison: Zimmer. Zim pushes the Vikings to a winning record -- and Bruce Arians out of his comfy seat -- to earn this award.

Marc Sessler: Kelly. Ridiculed for most of the offseason, Kelly will silence the doubters by winning it all.

Dave Dameshek: Joe Philbin, Miami Dolphins. Laugh now, but if Joe's gang can vanquish the division bully, he'll deserve serious consideration.

Bucky Brooks: Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks. Seattle is a dynasty under Carroll's direction. The 'Hawks have owned the NFC in recent years -- and will finish 2015 with the NFL's best record.

 

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Judy Battista: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings. It might be difficult for voters to go this way, given the circumstances that kept him off the field in 2014, but Peterson is rested and poised to put up a monster year for a team that will be happy to feed him the ball.

Jeffri Chadiha: Eric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs. This is a no-brainer if he does anything this season.

Brian Billick: Sam Bradford, QB, Philadelphia Eagles. Bradford looked like a very promising rookie in 2010 under offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, and while Chip Kelly is clearly in charge of the offense in Philly, don't discount the relationship between the reunited quarterback and coordinator.

Michael Silver: Peterson. Do I really need to explain?

Colleen Wolfe: Bradford. Don't call it a comeback, Bradford has been here (and injured) for years. But now he's upright and united with Chip Kelly in one of the most dynamic offenses in the league. If Kelly can make Nick Foles look good, imagine what he can do with Bradford.

Steve Wyche: Berry. He is back from a serious bout with cancer and will re-establish himself as one of the best at his position.

Gil Brandt: Bradford. This was a close call between Bradford and Chiefs safety Eric Berry, but as inspiring as Berry's tale is, Bradford just has more of an impact on his team's fortunes by virtue of his position. The quarterback will stay healthy and lead Chip Kelly's squad to the playoffs.

Adam Schein: Bradford. I won't be calling him Big Foot this year. Bradford is a great fit in Chip Kelly's offense and will thrive under the offensive guru.

Charley Casserly: Bradford. He is better than Nick Foles, and look at the stats Foles put up in 2013.

Elliot Harrison: Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals and Jadeveon Clowney, LB, Houston Texans. Since Eifert and Clowney are actually coming back from injury, make them co-winners. I like both of their situations. Cincy needs a tight end, and J.J. Watt hearts Clowney.

Marc Sessler: Bradford. This award requires a marketable narrative -- Bradford hoisting the Lombardi should get the job done.

Dave Dameshek: Haloti Ngata, DT, Detroit Lions. Deemed expendable by Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome, the former Ravens lynchpin is key to Detroit's D surviving the losses of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.

Bucky Brooks: Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants. The veteran pass catcher bounces back from a brutal injury to post a 1,200-yard season and claim this honor.

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