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Every NFL Team's Most Likely Candidate to Win a Major Award

Matt SteinCorrespondent IIOctober 1, 2015

Every NFL Team's Most Likely Candidate to Win a Major Award

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    Despite the NFL being a team game in the fullest sense of the word "team", individual awards are highly coveted by media, fans and players alike.

    While it is impossible for every player on every team to win a major award that the NFL hands out such as Most Valuable Player or Comeback Player of the Year, each team certainly has a candidate on their roster capable of winning one of theses major awards.

    Today we'll look at the potential major award winner on every NFL roster.

Atlanta Falcons

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    Potential Award Winner: Roddy White, WR

    Potential Award: Offensive Player of the Year

     

    Let me first say that Julio Jones garnered much consideration to bring home Offensive Player of the Year. However, he'll need one full season before he is the best receiver on the Atlanta Falcons.

    For now that means White is the best and most likely to win an award on this roster. Despite having what some considered a down season in 2011 (100 receptions, 1,296 yards and eight touchdowns), White should once again throw himself into conversation as one of the premier receivers in the league.

    With Michael Turner likely to see a decrease in his workload this year, White becomes an even easier choice as a potential award winner for the Falcons.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Potential Award Winner: Mark Barron, S

    Potential Award: Defensive Rookie of the Year

     

    As the sixth overall pick of the 2012 NFL draft, there is clearly quite a bit of expectation placed on his shoulders.

    The good thing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is that Barron is absolutely up to the task of becoming a defensive leader for a unit that struggled mentally in 2011. His ability to be physical in coverage should help against the talented tight end corps of the NFC South. In fact, he has already proven in the preseason to be quite the player in coverage.

    Look for Barron to be a serious candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year from the first snap of the 2012 season.

New Orleans Saints

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    Potential Award Winner: Drew Brees, QB

    Potential Award: Most Valuable Player

     

    This one should really come as no surprise. As long as Brees is the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, he's a potential MVP candidate every year.

    While it's unlikely that Brees will break his own record for passing yards in a single season, he should easily put up some of the best numbers for a quarterback in the league. There is simply too much talent around him offensively for him to not have a stellar year.

    Of course, this all depends on the impact losing Sean Payton will have on him, but even if Brees has a slight drop-off in production he'll be an easy MVP candidate.

Carolina Panthers

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    Potential Award Winner: Luke Kuechly, ILB

    Potential Award: Defensive Rookie of the Year

     

    If the Carolina Panthers have a successful season in 2012, there will be plenty of individuals who could bring home hardware. Head coach Ron Rivera would be a near lock for Coach of the Year and Cam Newton would definitely get some votes for Most Valuable Player.

    However, we're looking at the most likely player on each team to win an award, and for Carolina that player is Kuechly. Due to his unique instincts and ability to make plays all over the field, Kuechly will impact games in a number of ways.

    By the end of the season, he'll definitely have the statistics to be a frontrunner for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Potential Award Winner: Maurice Jones-Drew, RB

    Potential Award: Most Valuable Player

     

    This all depends on Jones-Drew actually playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars this year, which is still definitely up in the air. However, if he can make a decision quickly about ending his holdout, all signs point to him being the opening day starter for the Jaguars.

    MJD is coming off his most impressive season where his 1,606 rushing yards led the NFL. However, Jones-Drew only found the end zone eight times on the ground, a number he'll have to increase if he wants a legitimate chance at being MVP this year.

    What works in Jones-Drew's favor is that he is basically the entire offense for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Not only is he the first choice to move he ball on the ground, but his 43 receptions and three receiving touchdowns show that he is also a capable receiver.

    If MJD can put up 2,500 total yards and 20 total touchdowns (he had 1,980 and 11 respectively last year), he could be definitely win Most Valuable Player.

Houston Texans

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    Potential Award Winner: Arian Foster, RB

    Potential Award: Offensive Player of the Year

     

    Despite having one of the most balanced offensive attacks in the league, the Houston Texans will still depend on Foster more than any other player on their roster.

    When Foster was healthy last year, he was one of the most dynamic players in the entire league. Whether it was running the ball or acting as a receiver out of the backfield, Foster was a threat to score every single time he touched the ball.

    With health questions still surrounding Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson, it is entirely possible that Foster could have an even bigger 2012 season than 2011 season. Should that happen, Offensive Player of the Year will certainly be in his grasp.

Indianapolis Colts

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    Potential Award Winner: Andrew Luck, QB

    Potential Award: Offensive Rookie of the Year

     

    No rookie in the league is under as much pressure as Luck, and if he even lives up to half his expectations, he'll walk away with Offensive Rookie of the Year.

    This was really a no-brainer due to Luck's abilities and the fact that the Indianapolis Colts have very few other talented players on their roster. In fact, it wouldn't be a stretch at all the call the rookie quarterback the most talented player on the roster.

    Look for Luck to struggle at times, but ultimately be in contention for Offensive Rookie of the Year all year long.

Tennessee Titans

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    Potential Award Winner: Kenny Britt, WR

    Potential Award: Comeback Player of the Year

     

    Before going down with a tore MCL and ACL last year, Britt was well on his way to establishing himself as one of the premier receivers in the league. He had 17 receptions for 289 yards and three touchdowns in just three games.

    The big question is whether Britt will be at 100 percent health at the start of the season or if he'll need a few weeks to get back to full strength. He's also waiting to hear from Roger Goodell about his trouble withe the law during the offseason.

    If he misses some time early in the year, whether from his injury or suspension, he could have difficulty getting back into the swing of things.

    However, if he can play from Week 1 he should put up great statistics while fighting for Comeback Player of the Year.

Seattle Seahawks

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    Potential Award Winner: Russell Wilson, QB

    Potential Award: Offensive Rookie of the Year

     

    If you haven't been keeping in touch with the preseason than the selection of Wilson as an award winner for the Seattle Seahawks may seem crazy. Even though preseason statistics don't mean much in the grand scheme of things, it is hard to not be impressed with what Wilson has done so far.

    Not only did he steal away the starting job from Matt Flynn, but he's proven to be just as effective on the ground as he is through the air. He has the swagger of a winner and his playmaking abilities should keep the Seahawks competitive in all their games this year.

    While the offense will still run mostly through Marshawn Lynch, if Wilson can continue to play at the level he has played throughout the preseason, he'll deserve great consideration for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

San Francisco 49ers

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    Potential Award Winner: Patrick Willis, LB

    Potential Award: Defensive Player of the Year

     

    The San Francisco 49ers are one of the few teams that have a legitimate chance of having numerous players win Defensive Player of the Year. If Willis doesn't win it, Justin Smith or NaVorro Bowman easily could.

    However, Willis is the favorite because of his dominate all-around play. Since entering the league in 2007, he has established himself as the best middle linebacker in the game. There isn't a single aspect of the game that he doesn't excel in, and his ability to stuff a stat-sheet prove that.

    As long as Willis can stay healthy, which has been an issue in recent seasons, he should enter the 2012 season as the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year.

Arizona Cardinals

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    Potential Award Winner: Larry Fitzgerald, WR

    Potential Award: Offensive Player of the Year

     

    The Arizona Cardinals simply don't have any other player on their roster to win an award other than Fitzgerald. Maybe Patrick Peterson, but that would be quite the stretch for him to win Defensive Player of the Year.

    Even Fitzgerald winning this award is a major stretch because of the quarterback play that he'll have this year. Neither John Skelton or Kevin Kolb look like they'll be successful this year. Even though that hasn't stopped Fitzgerald in the past from having great seasons, the play of those two has really dropped off this year.

    There is a chance that Skelton or Kolb figure out how to throw the ball to him every time the offense is on the field, but him winning this award will be extremely difficult.

St. Louis Rams

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    Potential Award Winner: Sam Bradford, QB

    Potential Award: Comeback Player of the Year

     

    Not only did Bradford struggle with injuries last year, but he also played rather poorly when he was actually on the field. He didn't have any weapons to utilize and appeared to digress quite a bit from his rookie season to sophomore season.

    However, now that he is healthy and the St. Louis Rams have added offensive players in Brian Quick and Isaiah Pead, Bradford could get back to looking like his rookie self. He's also appeared to finally find chemistry with tight end Lance Kendricks.

    If Bradford plays well this year and the Rams have a surprisingly successful season, he could sneak away with the Comeback Player of the Year Award.

Denver Broncos

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    Potential Award Winner: Peyton Manning, QB

    Potential Award: Comeback Player of the Year

     

    There really isn't too much to say about Manning and the Comeback Player of the Year Award. He missed the entire 2011 season, signed with a new team in the offseason and will be the front-runner for this award all year long.

    As long as Manning doesn't completely bomb this season, this award will be his to lose.

San Diego Chargers

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    Potential Award Winner: Melvin Ingram, OLB

    Potential Award: Defensive Rookie of the Year

     

    Despite suffering a thigh bruise in his Week 3 preseason game, Ingram looks healthy for the start of the regular season. This is good news for the San Diego Chargers because Ingram has looked like an absolute beast so far this preseason.

    What makes him such a unique player is his ability to play a number of positions on defense for San Diego. This versatility makes it difficult for offenses to gameplan for Ingram and he has the talent to exploit even the smallest weakness on the offensive line.

    Look for him to have a huge year this year for the Chargers and use his playmaking ability to insert himself into conversations as the best defensive rookie this year.

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Potential Award Winner: Jamaal Charles, RB

    Potential Award: Comeback Player of the Year

     

    When Charles is healthy, he is one of the most dynamic running backs in the league. Now that Thomas Jones is out of the picture, Charles should see an even bigger bulk of the carries for the Kansas City Chiefs.

    While Peyton Hillis may take away some goal-line carries, Charles should still score plenty of touchdowns because of his ability to make people miss in the open field. He might not put up the statistics of a Arian Foster or Ray Rice, but he probably won't need to in order to win Comeback Player of the Year.

    His biggest competition will be Peyton Manning, but if Manning has some difficult games he could steal the award from him.

Oakland Raiders

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    Potential Award Winner: Darren McFadden, RB

    Potential Award: Offensive Player of the Year

     

    The big issue with McFadden is staying healthy. He has yet to play a full season for the Oakland Raiders since entering the league in 2008.

    This year the Raiders will be relying on McFadden more than ever to lead their offense. Carson Palmer doesn't look like his old self and he doesn't have man weapons to throw the ball to. That means if the Raiders want to have any success this year on offense, it is going to need to come from McFadden's legs.

    As long as McFadden plays all 16 games this year he should have a great chance at having a big enough year to be in contention for Offensive Player of the Year.

New York Giants

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    Potential Award Winner: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE

    Potential Award: Defensive Player of the Year

     

    There are few players with as unique of a skill set as Pierre-Paul has. He used his speed, power and athleticism to dominate every offense he played against. What separates him from other sack-artists like Jared Allen or DeMarcus Ware is his ability to play against the run and drop into coverage.

    While teams will be more aware of JPP this year, he is simply too talented to not be a threat to win Defensive Player of the Year in 2012. 

Washington Redskins

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    Potential Award Winner: Robert Griffin III, QB

    Potential Award: Offensive Rookie of the Year

     

    If there is anything we've learned from the preseason its that Griffin is going to push Andrew Luck for the top rookie quarterback all year long. 

    In fact, Griffin may be more likely to win Offensive Player of the Year over Luck because of the weapons he has surrounding him. He's already shown chemistry with Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss through the first three weeks of the preseason.

    The ultimate deciding factor for Offensive Rookie of the Year could be whichever quarterback wins more games. Considering the greater amount of talent that the Washington Redskins have, their success could propel Griffin to winning this award.

Dallas Cowboys

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    Potential Award Winner: DeMarcus Ware, OLB

    Potential Award: Defensive Player of the Year

     

    Until Ware retires from the NFL he'll be a threat to win Defensive Player of the Year every single year. He'll likely go down as one of the premier sack artists in NFL history and will be a near lock to get into the Hall of Fame.

    What could make Ware even more dangerous this year than in years past is the secondary that the Dallas Cowboys finally have. With Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr, the Cowboys will be able to bring more pressure with Ware.

    Look for Ware to have the greatest year of his career and be a major player in the Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Potential Award Winner: LeSean McCoy, RB

    Potential Award: Most Valuable Player

     

    Last year we saw McCoy have one of the better seasons from a running back in recent memory. His 20 total touchdowns led the NFL and his 1,624 total yards weren't too shabby either.

    While McCoy may see a decline in his touches this year if Michael Vick stays healthy, he should still be the focal point of the Philadelphia Eagles' offense. His ability to make plays in both the ground game and passing game is what makes him such a fantastic player.

    The biggest threat to McCoy's success this year will be Vick. If he plays every game, he could steal away production from McCoy and drop him out of the MVP contention. Of course, if Vick plays every game the Eagles will probably be looking at a deep playoff run and I'm sure McCoy would rather have that than some trophy.

Buffalo Bills

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    Potential Award Winner: Chan Gailey, Head Coach

    Potential Award: Coach of the Year

     

    There were plenty of other potential award winners for the Buffalo Bills (Fred Jackson or Mario Williams), but if this team is successful this year than Gailey should win Coach of the Year.

    He has taken a torn down franchise and turned them into a major contender in the AFC East. His unique coaching style has finally made the Bills an enjoyable team to watch.

    If the Bills make the playoffs this year then there should be no contest as to who wins Coach of the Year. It has to go to Gailey.

New York Jets

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    Potential Award Winner: Darrelle Revis, CB

    Potential Award: Defensive Player of the Year

     

    The only reason that Revis won't win Defensive Player of the Year this year is because of how potentially awful the New York Jets will be. It will be similar to the situation that Jared Allen was in last year when he was clearly the best defensive player, but played for a terrible team.

    The Jets offense looks horrific which means that Revis will be on the field more than ever this year. However, he is so talented that he'll still dominate and shutdown every receiver he faces.

    No player is as masterful at their position as Revis is and if the Jets weren't going to be so bad this year, he would absolutely win Defensive Player of the Year.

New England Patriots

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    Potential Award Winner: Tom Brady, QB

    Potential Award: Most Valuable Player

     

    As long as Tom Brady is in the NFL he'll be in the MVP Award race. He's already won the award twice in his career and 2012 might be the perfect time to take home trophy No. 3. 

    The last time that Brady had this many weapons surrounding him was back in 2007 when he shattered nearly every passing record in the book. With receivers Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker along with tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, Brady will be able to pick apart defenses with ease this year.

    Look for him to have a simply stunning, and potentially record-breaking, year in 2012.

Miami Dolphins

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    Potential Award Winner: Cameron Wake, DE

    Potential Award: Defensive Player of the Year

     

    The Miami Dolphins simply don't have any truly elite players on their roster. For anyone on the team to bring home a major award this year they'll have to have a phenomenal season.

    Of all the Miami players, the one with the best chance of doing that is Wake. He's quietly put together a string of impressive seasons for Miami and was a Pro Bowl player two years ago.

    It will be a major long shot for Wake to bring home Defensive Player of the Year, but I guess crazier things have happened in the past.

Chicago Bears

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    Potential Award Winner: Lance Briggs, LB

    Potential Award: Defensive Player of the Year

     

    For years and years Brian Urlacher was the best player on the Chicago Bears' defense. However, this year Briggs will finally take complete control of best-player honors from Urlacher.

    Briggs has been invited to seven straight Pro Bowls, so he is no stranger to success in the NFL. He's been one of the best all-around 4-3 outside linebackers in the NFL for years, but he'll need to bring his game to another level to win Defensive Player of the Year.

Detroit Lions

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    Potential Award Winner: Calvin Johnson, WR

    Potential Award: Most Valuable Player

     

    There isn't much to say about this one because if you don't know just how talented Johnson is than you should probably find a new sport to watch. You know they don't call him Megatron for nothing.

    As great as Johnson was last year, he could be even better this year. He finally has a full year under his belt with Matthew Stafford and has an improved receiving corps around him.

    He could end up having one of the greatest seasons ever by a receiver this year and that should be enough to win him the MVP Award.

Minnesota Vikings

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    Potential Award Winner: Jared Allen, DE

    Potential Award: Defensive Player of the Year

     

    Allen was a sack away from recording the most sacks ever in a single season in NFL history. The fact that he didn't win Defensive Player of the Year last year despite being the most dominant defensive player was a pure tragedy.

    As long as the Vikings win more than three games this year Allen should be in the thick of winning this award.

Green Bay Packers

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    Potential Award Winner: Aaron Rodgers, QB

    Potential Award: Most Valuable Player

     

    Best quarterback in the league? Check.

    Best player in the NFL? Check.

    Best player in the world? Check.

    Yeah, I'd say Rodgers is a favorite to win the MVP this year.

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Potential Award Winner: Troy Polamalu, S

    Potential Award: Defensive Player of the Year

     

    There are few players as dominant and consistent as Polamalu is year after year. Not only is he one of the best current safeties in the game, he may be one of the best in the history of the NFL.

    His ability to make an impact in every facet of the game is why he is such a unique player. Not only is he going to make plays in the passing game, but the Pittsburgh Steelers will also use him to stop the run or blitz the quarterback.

    It is this combination of abilities that make Polamalu a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Potential Award Winner: Marvin Lewis, Head Coach

    Potential Award: Coach of the Year

    Since Lewis took over as head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals the team has always seemed to have a good year than a bad year. They've never really been able to put together a string of winning seasons.

    So, after making the playoffs last year, history would seem to say that the Bengals should struggle this year. However, this team finally looks built to be successful year after year and if they can do that Lewis deserves a great deal of credit.

    Look for Cincinnati to once again threaten the big boys in the AFC North and potentially win the division title outright. If that happens, Lewis will need to be considered one of the best coaches in the NFL.

Cleveland Browns

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    Potential Award Winner: Trent Richardson, RB

    Potential Award: Offensive Rookie of the Year

     

    Richardson gets the nod here by complete default. There isn't another player on the Cleveland Browns roster that even has a one percent chance to win a major award.

    Richardson figures to be a major part of the Browns' offense this year and that should give him a great chance to bring home this award at the end of the season. Despite missing the entire preseason, he is still one of the best running back prospects we've seen in a long time and he shouldn't have any difficulty making an early impact in the league.

    It won't be easy for Richardson to have a dominant season, but with the amount of talent he has he should have a successful year and be in contention for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Baltimore Ravens

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    Potential Award Winner: Ray Rice, RB

    Potential Award: Offensive Player of the Year

     

    Both Ed Reed and Ray Lewis were considered for Defensive Player of the Year, but the years spent in the league is starting to slow down their overall production. Rice, on the other hand, is just entering his prime and is also the focal point of the Baltimore Ravens' offense.

    He'll be called upon to make an impact in a number of ways this year including the ground and the air. Due to the lack of talent behind him on the roster, it wouldn't be too surprising to see Rice get the most touches of his career this year.

    As long as the ball is constantly being placed in Rice's hands, he will be one of the best offensive weapons in the game.

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