Despite his recent injury history, it certainly wouldn't be shocking if Peyton Manning was in the discussion for the MVP or Offensive Player of the Year awards.
Divisions like the NFC East don't offer any head-turning choices since there are rock-solid arguments for three of the four teams to make the playoffs.
This list is for those selections that are currently little more than low whispers.
But mostly, it's for those picks that fans and the media won't see coming.
Everybody seems to forget that the Kansas City Chiefs were rocking the division crown prior to last season.
They'll remember soon enough.
More things could not have gone wrong in 2011. Injuries took out Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki.
Losing four starters is difficult enough for any team to overcome. Losing three studs and a steady quarterback makes things untenable.
Charles is a record-setting running back who will provide much-needed balance offensively. Cassell can then use play action to find playmakers Dwayne Bowe, Moeaki and Steve Breaston.
In short, the offense will be fine.
The return of Berry and the addition of Stanford Routt will stabilize the secondary. Mix in talented rookie Dontari Poe and beastly linebacker Tamba Hali, and the defense will provide enough help to push this team over the top.
The Cleveland Browns are likely to start rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden. The best way to keep the pressure off the "young man" is to run a balanced offense.
Enter Trent Richardson.
The 5'9", 228-pound running back is not built like a bowling ball, but rather an Abrams tank.
If a defender is going to bring down T-Rich, he needs to bring power and proper form. Anything less will not work.
Richardson is much more than just a premier power back. He showed off moves in college that will be effective in the NFL.
Considering Cleveland's lack of depth, he will get more than the lion's share of the carries. And as stated above, there should be plenty of rushing plays to keep Weeden comfortable in the pocket.
For these reasons, Richardson won't just challenge for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. He will have a shot at bringing home the rushing title.
That leaves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to challenge the Atlanta Falcons for the NFC South title.
And challenge they will.
The team quit on head coach Raheem Morris, so the arrival of Greg Schiano will pump new life into the franchise.
Additionally, the locker room is still stocked with much of the talent that won 10 games in 2010.
Quarterback Josh Freeman posted almost a 5-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio that season and has new weapons in Vincent Jackson, Dallas Clark and Doug Martin. Freshly signed veteran guard Carl Nicks will provide the time Freeman needs to find his targets.
The secondary is loaded with talent that will help cover up any defensive line deficiencies in a pass-happy league.
The Bucs will be a team to be reckoned with.
Anytime a coach turns a team from a basement dweller to a division-title contender, he has to be considered for NFL Coach of the Year honors.
As the last slide explained, that's exactly what Greg Schiano is going to do with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Schiano is the perfect man to replace Morris. His no-nonsense approach will hold the players accountable for their actions.
That kind of discipline will transfer to the field and lead to plenty of wins for Tampa Bay.
Maybe one year wasn't enough to label Blaine Gabbert a bust.
It sure seemed like it though.
His 65.4 passer rating doesn't accurately reflect his terrible play. Gabbert was atrocious.
However, things may be turning around for the Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback.
According to reports, Gabbert did more than just have a good day or two at minicamp. He looked like a legitimate NFL quarterback.
He showed a real understanding of the offense and appeared to have worked on his fundamentals so as to stay poised under pressure.
With Maurice Jones-Drew in the backfield to keep defenses honest, Gabbert will have just enough receiving talent to land on the Comeback Player of the Year ballot.
Perhaps it's due to all the noise from free agency and off-the-field issues, but there is an acute lack of buzz surrounding the Dallas Cowboys.
That's a mistake.
One look at the roster shows a team that is as talented as any in the league.
The offense boasts Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten and Tyron Smith.
The defense looks even more impressive with DeMarcus Ware, Marcus Spears, Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr, and Sean Lee.
If the argument is a lack of leadership, Ware is more than capable of filling that role on the defensive side.
As for Tony Romo's supposed lack of "clutch ability," they said the same thing about LeBron James.
The offense has too much firepower to be held down and the defense is more than capable of protecting a lead.
Go to Vegas and lay down some cash. You'll be happy you did.
There are certain things that cannot be taught or acquired.
These reasons alone are enough to give Alshon Jeffery some serious Offensive Rookie of the Year consideration.
However, he has proven that he has the hands to make difficult catches, and Jay Cutler will get him the ball in tight spots.
But the most important reason for this prediction is that Jeffery is demonstrating the desire to excel. The fact that he weighed in at 213 pounds after weighing 229 while at South Carolina shows he has the required work ethic.
When you add that he was drafted in the second round, the kid has been given a chip on his shoulder to motivate him.
Jeffery will not be silent this season.
If Sam Bradford has anything, it's resiliency.
Bradford only played in three games his last year with the Oklahoma Sooners, yet still was drafted by the St. Louis Rams with the first pick.
He rewarded the franchise by winning Offensive Rookie of the year honors and leading his team to the cusp of the playoffs.
Unfortunately, 2011 was not nearly as much fun. Bradford only lasted 10 games and managed a paltry six touchdowns.
The Rams quarterback will certainty enter into the Comeback Player of the Year discussion, but he will shock plenty of people by inserting himself into the MVP talk.
He's already shown he has all the physical and mental tools. With Stephen Jackson and Isaiah Pead behind him, Bradford will revive another player in need of a bounce-back season—wide receiver Steve Smith.
His odds of winning are remote. However, he will be a contender at some point.
For a fanbase that has been through incredible losses and been forced to share home games with Toronto, there is credible evidence of a possible Super Bowl run in 2012.
The Buffalo Bills promise to make it difficult for opponents to put up points.
The defense might have the best front seven in the league and a top-ten pick (Stephen Gilmore) at one corner spot.
Notably, the duo of Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus will make the lives of Tom Brady and Matt Schaub certifiably crazy for four quarters every week.
If the offense can put together enough points, this team is dangerous. Ryan Fitzpatrick will need to regain his early season form along with running back Fred Jackson finding his pre-injury stride.
Even the Arizona Cardinals pulled it off once in the last decade. At the very least, there's hope.
The St. Louis Rams as a whole are just on the outskirts of being a surprise contender. The pieces are starting to fit, but they need just a little more help.
One player who will provide such help going forward is Chris Long.
His sack numbers have risen steadily every year, culminating in a jump to 13 in 2011. Those numbers will continue to improve.
If he adds a few more forced fumbles along with increased sack numbers, it would be ridiculous for him not to gain some favor as the NFL's best defensive player.
Pete Carroll has provided fodder for critics with certain personnel decisions (Tarvaris Jackson, Russel Wilson, possibly Bruce Irvin), but the bulk of his moves might give him the last laugh.
As SI.com's Chris Burke pointed out, the Seattle Seahawks ended the season with a 5-1 record over their last six games. As the Detroit Lions proved last year, that type of momentum can instill confidence heading into the offseason.
However, there will be a large change from last year's team. Matt Flynn will earn the starting quarterback spot, which will improve the entire starting lineup.
Seattle could really use Mike Williams and Sidney Rice to regain their 2010 skills. As for running back, they have one in Marshawn Lynch who has a mode that few others have.
The defense has a few questions marks, but their draft picks (Irvin and Bobby Wagner) could fill some important holes.
Seattle's schedule is the most favorable factor in their return to the postseason.
The Lions and Chicago Bears have to play each other and the Green Bay Packers a total of four times each. The NFC East squads also have to deal with each other.
By comparison, the NFC West offers the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals. That's a rather large advantage for Seattle.