The 2009 NFL season officially kicks on Thursday night, with the Titans squaring off against the 2008 world champion Pittsburgh Steelers. The 49ers and Raiders kick off their season on Sunday, as does most of the rest of the NFL, and we'll preview those games this weekend, but today we're going to give our predictions as to who will receive awards at the end of the season.
NFL MVP: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings: The NFL's best pure rusher should have gotten more votes for last years award, but this season, with Favre in the backfield with him, it should be open season for the 24 year-old beast. I'm expecting 1800+ yards (he's targeting 2000) and 15+ touchdowns on the ground while he and the ancient one lead the Vikings to the playoffs.
Runners Up: RB Matt Forte Chi., QB Drew Brees N.O., WR Randy Moss N.E.
Offensive P.O.Y: Maurice Jones-Drew, RB Jacksonville Jaguars: I don't think the Jags have enough talent all-around to make a run at the postseason this year, but Mo Jo should run wild with the job all to himself for the first time in his career. I'm expecting 2000 combined yards from scrimmage and a ton of scores from the focal point of the Jacksonville offense.
Runners Up: RB DeAngelo Williams Car., WR Larry Fizgerald Ari., WR Calvin Johnson Det.
Defensive P.O.Y.: DeMarcus Ware, LB, Dallas Cowboys: Probably should have won last year after a 20 sack, 6 forced fumble season. I'm expecting another big season out of Ware and if he leads the league in sacks and fumbles again, it'll be a shame if he doesn't win it.
Runners Up: SS Troy Polamalu Pitt., LB Joey Porter Mia., LB Patrick Willis SF
Rookie of the Year: Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets: Sanchez is being handed the keys to the Jets offense in his first year in the NFL, and he looked pretty decent in the preseason. He's smart and athletic and should provide the Jets with a young Chad Pennington type with a little more athleticism, arm strength and hopefully better health.
Runners Up: QB Matthew Stafford Det., DE Tyson Jackson KC, WR Michael Crabtree SF
Comeback P.O.Y.: Tom Brady, QB, New England: It's kind of tough to give Brady this award, just because he has such high expectations and is so accomplished at the NFL level. However, he did miss all of last season and more than qualifies in this category. I'm not quite expecting the Tom Brady of 2007 (50 TD's, 4800 yards passing) but he'll still be a top-5 quarterback by the end of the year if he stays healthy.
Runners Up: QB Carson Palmer Cin., QB Matt Hasselbeck Sea., RB Laurence Maroney N.E.
Coach of the Year: Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans: The Texans are primed for a breakout year after years and years of mediocrity. Kubiak and Co. have put together a nice offensive unit and they have enough playmakers on defense to really be a force this season. Look for the Texans to make their first ever postseason appearance this year, with Kubiak pushing the right buttons in Houston.
Runners Up: Tony Sparano Mia., Ken Whisenhunt Ari., Mike Singletary SF