Anthony’s Predictions

Anthony Colavito, Sports Editor

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NFL MVP: Patrick Mahomes

Do not be surprised if the reigning NFL MVP wins back to back. He already leads the league in passing yards through week 2, as he is over 800 passing yards. Mahomes was the 10th pick back in the 2017 NFL Draft, and he has lived up to the hype so far. With talent like his that has not been seen in a long time, he will win MVP once again. Mahomes is in a league of his own, and there is no slowing him down. 

 

Offensive Player of the Year: Deandre Hopkins

I went with a bit of a wildcard here. Most would argue that Saquon Barkley is the best offensive player in football. Some might also say that Hopkins is not even the best wide receiver in the league, implying that Julio Jones or Michael Thomas might be the best. Yet Deandre’s spectacular catch abilities, overall size and athleticism give him the advantage over some of the cornerbacks he is lined up against. But the number that will give him a boost in the Offensive Player of the Year voting is his touchdown numbers. He racked up 11 touchdowns in the 2018-2019 season, and already has two this year. So the sky’s the limit for “Nuk”. 

Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald

Last year’s DPOTY will most likely run away with it once again this year. With 20.5 sacks last year, Donald has made his case as the most dominant pass rusher in the entire NFL. Notice how it said earlier that Donald will “most likely to run away” with the award once again. It is important to mention three other defenders that could win this award. Khalil Mack of the Bears probably comes to mind first. Mack had 12.5 sacks, an interception and a touchdown in 2018. He will once again be one of the most feared defenders in the league. Myles Garrett of the Browns is finally coming into his own. His quickness off the edge gives him the advantage to blow past the offensive line. He racked up three sacks in week two against the Jets and it looks like there is no slowing him down anytime soon. The last player is longshot to win, but it’s cornerback Stephon Gilmore of the Patriots. With his athleticism and overall lock-down ability, it’s about time this guy gets recognized for his hard work on the field. Once again, Donald has proven to be the best of the best. There is no stopping him from winning once again. 

Rookie of the Year: Marquise Brown

Brown was an all around stud in college for the Oklahoma Sooners. He only played two seasons there and had 2,413 yards and 17 touchdowns in those two years with the Sooners, he didn’t get the nickname “Hollywood” for nothing. He was selected by the Baltimore Ravens 25th overall in this year’s NFL Draft. In week one against the Dolphins, Brown lit up the stat charts. He had four receptions for 147 yards and two touchdowns. His first catch in the NFL was a 43 yard touchdown pass from Lamar Jackson. And his second touchdown was an 83 yard catch and run thrown by Jackson again to Brown. Brown is going into week three sitting at third place in the receiving yards race, currently with 233 yards. Another thing to mention about him is that his cousin is former Pro Bowl receiver Antonio Brown. This proves that Marquise has the genetics to be a superstar player in his career. Let’s just hope Marquise doesn’t have the same diva-like antics as his cousin. 

Breakout Player of the Year: Kerryon Johnson

Although he kind of broke out last year by being a valuable waiver wire pick up in fantasy football, he will finally put up big time numbers to get him some notice this year. He could finish towards the top in rushing yards and could also break out as one of the better receiving backs this year. He put up 641 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in his rookie year. Also take note he only started in seven games his rookie year and put up those numbers on a struggling Detroit Lions team. He could be the player the Lions need, along with wide receiver Kenny Golladay, to bring football relevancy back to the Motor City. 

Comeback Player of the Year: Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo’s story is an interesting one to say the least. Being drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Jimmy G was set up to be the successor to Tom Brady. When Brady was suspended in the beginning of the 2016 season, Garoppolo stepped in and went 2-0 as a starter before getting hurt in week two against the Dolphins. Jimmy G would end up being traded in the middle of the 2017 season to the San Francisco 49ers and would win his first five starts there. Things were looking promising for the Niners future before Garoppolo would tear his ACL in week three of the 2018 season. Coming off of that injury this season, he has thrown for 463 yards and four touchdowns through the first two weeks, and has helped the 49ers start off the season 2-0 for the first time since their Super Bowl run in 2012. Things are looking good this year for the 49ers, as they are a contender for an NFC wildcard spot in the playoffs, and Jimmy G is a big part of this which will help him in his case for Comeback Player of the Year. 

Before we get to our big Super Bowl predictions, let’s break down which four teams will win their divisions in their respective conferences, starting with the AFC.

AFC North: Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are off to a hot start this year. Lamar Jackson has proven himself to be a great passing quarterback over the first two weeks. Mark Ingram has proven to be a top tier running back still and rookie Marquise Brown has become Jackson’s favorite target this year. And once again, the defense in Baltimore is their identity, which it always has been. With the Browns not living up to the hype so far and the Steelers falling apart in front of our eyes, the Ravens should be able to steamroll through the division. They could challenge Kansas City to play New England in the AFC Championship, and we will see how that plays out in week three. 

AFC South: Houston Texans

This division is the division that is up for grabs. Literally any team could win it. If the Titans played like they did week one every week, they will win it. Yet, Marcus Mariota’s inconsistency still plagues the Titans. With the retirement of Andrew Luck, everyone counted the Colts and said they would tank the season for a high draft pick. Backup Jacoby Brissett has been lighting it up and helped the Colts to a 1-1 record. The defense and offensive line has finally come into their own after years of struggling. And the Jaguars are looking hot. With Nick Foles going down with a broken collarbone in week one. Enter Gardner Minshew. The rookie quarterback that has taken the league by storm by becoming a meme. All joking aside, he has established himself to be a great quarterback. Even though star cornerback Jalen Ramsey wants out of Sacksonville, they still own a top tier defense in the NFL. Yet, the Texans will still win the division despite all of this. Deshaun Watson is the franchise quarterback the Texans have been looking for since entering the league as an expansion team in 2002. Top tier wide receiver Deandre Hopkins will help Watson carry the workload on offense alongside newcomer Kenny Stills who they acquired from the Dolphins. J.J. Watt will still help be the leader of their defense who is not as strong as they were. Though none of the teams in the AFC South will make it far in the playoffs, someone has to go, and it will be the Houston Texans. 

AFC East: New England Patriots

Is there even anything to say here? They are the clear Super Bowl favorite with depth all around. They might not have Antonio Brown anymore, but they still have returning Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Philip Dorsett. The retirement of Rob Gronkowski hasn’t seemed to bother anybody besides the people of Boston who miss him dearly. The defense has come into their own after being ranked towards the bottom of the league for many years. The departure of star pass rusher Trey Flowers doesn’t seem to be bothering them either, as Bill Belichick has the “next man up” attitude. Stephon Gilmore, twins Jason and Devin McCourtey, and Patrick Chung lead a loaded secondary which has allowed zero points so far this season. And the key piece of the offense Tom Brady doesn’t look like he is slowing down anytime soon. Expect the Pats to steamroll through the AFC. 

AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes continues to shine after replacing Alex Smith last year. The current MVP has a star studded offense with Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins coming into his own through the first few weeks. The only team that could potentially win the West is the Chargers. They continue to stay a contender with Philip Rivers at quarterback and star pass rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.  However, Rivers is showing signs of regression, and is visibly getting frustrated with the team. With the Chiefs great offense, their defense is a point of concern. Linebacker Anthony Hitchens is having a decent year so far and star safety Tyrann Mathieu is carrying a young squad. Again, Mahomes is in a league of his own. And that by itself will give the Chiefs a division crown.

NFC North: Minnesota Vikings

Starting these predictions off with a wildcard. The Vikings sit at 1-1 going into week three. They own a win against the Falcons who were a very balanced match-up for them considering the entire Falcon defense was healthy again. And they would lose to the Packers in week two after Kirk Cousins threw an interception on a potential game winning drive. But Kirk Cousins has the support system around him to win a division crown and fight for a trip to the Super Bowl. Star wide receiver duo Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs will help put points on the board along with Dalvin Cook keeping the ball on the ground. With a star studded defense as well, the Vikings should get back at the Packers and head to the playoffs.

NFC South: New Orleans Saints

Okay. We are aware that Drew Brees will be out for six weeks with a fractured thumb that he suffered in the week two loss to the Rams. But, with players like Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas and Cam Jordan, you can’t count them out. Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill will be splitting snaps under center. Hill is the most versatile player in all of the NFL. He basically could do it all and proved that last year. Though the Saints didn’t look good against the Rams, don’t be surprised if the Saints come out with a bunch of trick plays on offense. After a week of practice, Sean Payton should be able to come up with a lot with a quarterback who can run, catch, and pass the ball. Don’t forget all the weapons like Kamara and Thomas. Moral of the story for this is don’t count out the city of New Orleans. If they could get back on their feet after Hurricane Katrina, they could get through the loss of Drew Brees for a few weeks. 

NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles

It’s a huge toss up to win the NFC East. Between the Eagles and Cowboys, either team could run away with the division. But the Eagles will win it due to one factor. Depth at every position. With a star studded defensive line with Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox, they have one of the scariest pass rushes in the league. With a big come from behind win in week one against the Redskins, Carson Wentz showed flashes of his 2017 season when he was in the MVP race before getting injured in week 13. With weapons like Zach Ertz, Jordan Howard and Alshon Jeffery, they will be able to get the ball down the field and score. The key for them would be taking as much time off the clock and scoring, so developing a strong run game is essential. That will be the make or break factor for a division crown in Philly.

NFC West: Los Angeles Rams

The NFC West is legit this year. With the Seahawks and 49ers currently sitting at 2-0, and Kyler Murray of the Cardinals showing flashes of a bright future, the Rams are still a very complete team. Weapons like Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods will provide Jared Goff with a better air attacks in the league. Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald will lead a motivated Rams defense after letting Tom Brady and the Patriots score the only touchdown of Super Bowl 53. With the addition of safety Eric Weddle, he helps form one of the scariest secondaries in the league with Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. If Todd Gurley snaps into the force he was last year, the Rams could be a favorite to go back to the Super Bowl. They should be a guarantee to get back into the playoffs and pick up where they left off last year.

Super Bowl LV Matchup: New England Patriots vs Philadelphia Eagles

This year’s Super Bowl will be a rematch of Super Bowl 39 and 52. This will be the third matchup between the Pats and Eagles. The series is split at one game a piece. Tom Brady won his third championship against a Donavan McNabb lead Eagles squad back in 2005. This was when Ty Law was still on the Patriots and Brian Dawkins was still on the Eagles, they both went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this past summer. New England won that game 24-21. Just two years ago, Nick Foles lead the Eagles to a miracle underdog win against the Patriots defeating them 41-33, helping Philly win their first Super Bowl in franchise history. Carson Wentz will help the Eagles win their division over the favorite to win Dallas Cowboys. They will be the underdogs in all of their playoff games. They will defeat the Cowboys in the wildcard, the Rams in the divisional, and eventually will play the wildcard Packers in the NFC Championship. In the final seconds, Carson Wentz will score a go-ahead touchdown to win the game. On the AFC side of things, the Patriots will once again defeat the Chiefs in the AFC Championship, this time in Foxborough. Carson Wentz will attempt to do what Nick Foles did and bring joy to the city of Philadelphia by defeating Tom Brady and the mighty New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Things will be different this time around. The New England defense will be the difference maker like they were last year against the Rams. Wentz and company will put up a fight, but the Pats will win back-to-back championships. The final score being 28-20. Stephon Gilmore will take home the game’s MVP award.