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Tom Brady will be back with a vengeance in 2012
The safest pick for the MVP award is always choosing the previous year's winner or sometimes even the previous year's Super Bowl MVP, if that player is a quarterback. This year I'm going to go with a quarterback (predictably), but not last year's.
In 2010, Tom Brady was voted the league's first unanimous MVP, ever. He registered a ridiculous 36-4 TD-INT ratio and threw 335 consecutive passes without an interception—both records.
In 2011, many believed he was even better, throwing for 5,235 yards (second-best all time, and blowing away his old record for most yards thrown by a cold-weather quarterback) and 39 touchdowns. He led a team with a defense that was statistically one of the worst of all time to a 13-3 record, a No. 1 seeding, and one dropped ball away from a Super Bowl championship.
With the Super Bowl loss looming in his mind as motivation, and his first real deep threat since Randy Moss left in 2010, the two-time MVP will come out of the gates more zoned in than ever.
Offensive Player of the Year—Arian Foster
In just 13 games last season, Foster touched the ball 331 times for 1,841 yards. If Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson can remain healthy for the entire season and take more focus off of the run game, the sky's the limit for this previously-undrafted star.
2,000+ yards from scrimmage is a goal well within his reach, and he could challenge LT's mark for most yards from scrimmage in a season if he gets enough touches.
Defensive Player of the Year—Aldon Smith
Many believe that the DPOY will be on the San Francisco 49ers, but most those people believe it will be All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis. This pick is going out slightly on a limb, as I only have one year in the pros as foundation to make this prediction, but with Smith's freakish athletic prowess and his near rookie-record 14 sacks last season, I only see him getting better, especially in a defense that's on the rise. He could challenge the single-season sacks record that Jared Allen so frustratingly got close to last year.
Offensive Rookie of the Year—Andrew Luck
It's hard to go against the new Golden Boy of the NFL here. His praises have been sung for nearly two years now and it's finally time for him to show us what he's worth, and I don't believe he'll disappoint.
I don't see him having as much success as Cam Newton did in his phenomenal rookie campaign, but I do see Andrew Luck living up to his billing as the No. 1 overall pick and taking this award home as proof of his ascension.
Defensive Rookie of the Year—Morris Claiborne
There weren't many extremely highly-touted defensive players coming out of college this offseason, with Claiborne being the highest-picked defender at sixth overall. While this may seem like a cop-out pick, he was considered the best defensive prospect by many scouts and should help change the D in Big D, helping them on their way to elite status.
His instincts and athleticism will make up for whatever gross rookie misjudgments he might make, and if he lives up to his potential he should take home this award.
Comeback Player of the Year—Jay Cutler
After having his season cut short last year, expect Jay Cutler to come out on fire in 2012 after being reunited with former teammate Brandon Marshall. A 4,500+ yard, 30+ touchdown season is certainly in the cards for the Vandy alum, as is this award.
Coach of the Year—Andy Reid
This award is always difficult to predict, as Coach of the Year often goes to the coach of a surprise playoff team or a team faced with unexpected adversity that still manages to make it to the big dance. For now, I'm going to say that it goes to a coach who's team was given super expectations last year but fell short. After a tumultuous regular season, Reid's steady hand will guide the Eagles to the playoffs and a second AP Coach of the Year award.