Aloha!! Per my previous promise, this week I am back to give my projections for the other half of what makes weekends in the fall so damn enjoyable, that being the NFL (and by that I of course mean fantasy football, after which the playoffs start and we can really begin paying attention). If ya can’t tell by now, allow me to preface this list w/ the same two caveats as last year: (1) Anybody that knows me can vouch that my interest in the NFL pales next to my love for college football. (2) Having lived in Hawaii for the last three years, my ability to watch all that much is stifled tremendously. I mean, would you really get up at 5am to watch the Raiders and Chargers play on Sunday? Didn’t think so…

Without further ado, here we go…

MVP/Offensive POY ~ Andrew Luck, Indianapolis. The last time Indy brought in a blue-chip rookie QB, it wasn’t until Year 3 that he hit his stride. Luck was almost there last year…this should be the year he gets over the hump.

Defensive POY ~ Luke Keuchly, Panthers. Nailed this pick last year, see absolutely no reason to change it on this go-round. The guy can flat play, stuffing the stat sheet like few others can.

(Note: JJ Watt is also a solid choice here, but I went away from him for two reasons…(1) The Texans are on much shakier ground than Carolina, and (2) He has become something of a media darling this offseason. Never a good sign.)

Runners Up: Watt – HOU, Earl Thomas – SEA

Rookie of the Year ~ Sammy Watkins, Bills. As odd as it sounds, this one actually comes down more on my pick for last year’s ROY, that being EJ Manuel. If he can continue to get the ball to Watkins in space, the kid should be something special.

Runners Up: Brandin Cooks – NO, Ryan Shazier – PIT

Comeback POY ~ Rob Gronkowski, Patriots. Perhaps a bit of a homer pick, but as the focal point of a very prolific passing attack, all the pieces are in place for him to have a monster season.

Runners Up: Julio Jones – ATL, Percy Harvin – SEA
 
Lineman of the Year ~ Alex Mack, Browns. Bear in mind I am limiting this pick solely to offensive linemen and interior defensive tackles, as most teams use their defensive ends in such hybrid roles anymore that it’s difficult to accurately compare Demarcus Ware and his 15 sacks to Andrew Whitworth, one of the best guards in the game. The pick here goes to Mack, the very best center in the game.

Runners Up: Gerald McCoy – TB, Tyron Smith – DAL
 
Coach of the Year ~ Mike McCoy, Chargers.
While the case could EASILY be made for Pete Carroll, John Fox, etc, I’m going w/ a trio of guys here who will majorly exceed expectations this year. It’s easy to win w/ Peyton Manning or the league’s best defense…try doing it w/ that lineup in San Diego.

Runners Up: Mike Pettine – CLE, Ron Rivera – CAR

AFC East ~ Patriots. I don’t care what happened in Week 1. The East is theirs until proven otherwise.

AFC North ~ Bengals.
There are major question marks in both Pittsburgh and Baltimore this year.

AFC South ~ Colts. In Luck we trust. (W/ good reason).

AFC West ~ Broncos. But the Chargers will be closer than people think.

Wild Cards ~ Chargers, Steelers/Bills. I have a feeling that sixth AFC spot will really surprise some folks. Dont count out Houston either.

NFC East ~ Eagles. There is a very, very strong chance this becomes the worst division in football this year.

NFC South ~ Saints. This is a pick more based on the weaknesses of other teams than anything they have.

NFC North ~ Packers. Though this one will be fun to watch.

NFC West ~ Seahawks. Per usual, their annual showdowns w/ the Niners should be appointment viewing.

Wild Cards ~ Niners/Bears/Panthers/Falcons. The WC will be some combination of these four, but who it will be is still way, way too early to pick.

Super Bowl ~ Seahawks over Colts. I just don’t see Denver having the legs to stay healthy and run w/ the Colts down the stretch in the AFC. As for the final…always side w/ the team that plays ridiculous defense.

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