Down
enlarge shrink
Rising Stars: Anthony Barr
5:29 | NFL
Rising Stars: Anthony Barr
SI Staff
Wednesday September 9th, 2015

The 2015 NFL season kicks off on Thursday when the defending champion New England Patriots take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in what many have dubbed 'the suspension game' (less so, now that Tom Brady's four-game suspension has been nullified). Will the Patriots put their crazy offseason behind them and repeat as champions? Can Washington avoid what seems like an inevitable steep slide this season?

SI.com's football experts make their predictions for Super Bowl 50, MVP, coach of the year and more.

SI STAFF: Answering the NFL's burning questions ahead of 2015 season

Don Banks

Why the Packers? Even without injured receiver Jordy Nelson, Green Bay still has the NFL's state-of-the-art offense and the game's best quarterback playing in the prime of his career in Aaron Rodgers. The Packers defense and special teams conspired to fuel that epic collapse at Seattle in the NFC Championship Game, but Green Bay is too talented and too motivated to be denied this season. It took longer than most of us expected, but the Packers will earn their second Super Bowl ring of the Mike McCarthy-Rodgers era.

Awards

MVP: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Offensive Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Frank Clark, DE, Seattle Seahawks
Comeback Player of the Year: Sam Bradford, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Coach of the Year: Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings


Greg Bedard

Certainly a lot of things need to go right for this team, especially at the offensive skill positions and in the secondary (I’m looking at you, Lardarius Webb), but they’re strong in two areas, offensive line and defense, that I think are keys to strong postseason runs. I also think the Ravens are due for some luck. Even with a rash of injuries they should have beaten the eventual champion Patriots at Foxboro last year. If Ravens stay healthy, they should this time.

Awards

MVP: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Offensive Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Randy Gregory, DE, Dallas Cowboys
Coach of the Year: Bill O'Brien, Houston Texans
Comeback Player of the Year: Sam Bradford, QB, Philadelphia Eagles


Michael Beller

Awards

MVP: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Offensive Player of the Year: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Defensive Player of the Year: Justin Houston, OLB, Kansas City Chiefs
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Vic Beasley, DE, Atlanta Falcons
Coach of the Year: Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings
Comeback Player of the Year: Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals


Greg Bishop

The NFL, as everyone knows, is a quarterback-driven league. And since Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are both closer to the end of their careers than the beginning, it looks like Andrew Luck is ready to step up and vie for the title of league's best signal caller. The Colts added this offseason to an already potent offense running back Frank Gore and receiver Andre Johnson. They give Luck more options than he has ever had before. If the Colts can stop opponents in the playoffs just enough, it's hard to see an AFC contender—outside of Baltimore, maybe—with a defense to stop them.

Awards

MVP: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Offensive Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Ameer Abdullah, RB, Detroit Lions
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Shaq Thompson, LB, Carolina Panthers
Coach of the Year: Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles
Comeback Player of the Year: Sam Bradford, QB, Philadelphia Eagles


Chris Burke

I will not try to convince anyone the Ravens have the league's most talented roster—they don't. But their strengths lie along their O-line and their defensive front seven, making them built for success into January and February. We already know what Joe Flacco can do when he gets a crack at the playoffs.

Awards

MVP: Aaron Rodgers
Offensive Player of the Year: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Randy Gregory, DE, Dallas Cowboys
Coach of the Year: Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts
Comeback Player of the Year: NaVorro Bowman, LB, San Francisco 49ers


Doug Farrar

This pick is obviously heavily dependent on the health of Sam Bradford, but Chip Kelly's Sports Science theories have led to the Eagles being one of the least-injured teams over the last two seasons. Bradford is the perfect quarterback to take Kelly's offense over the top, and there are enough improvements on defense to make the Eagles perhaps the NFL's most dangerous team.

Awards

MVP: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Offensive player of the Year: Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Danny Shelton, T, Cleveland Browns
Coach of the Year: Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts
Comeback Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings


Melissa Jacobs

After exacting revenge on Seattle, Green Bay rides the momentum, not to mention Aaron Rodgers' supreme efficiency and an underrated pass rush, to overmatch New England. Karma.

Awards

MVP: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Offensive Player of the Year: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Randy Gregory, DE, Dallas Cowboys
Coach of the Year: Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers
Comeback Player of the Year: NaVorro Bowman


Bette Marston

Some people might not buy into Chip Kelly’s offseason overhaul, but I’m fully convinced this will be their season. Sam Bradford will play his first full, healthy season since 2012, and the tandem of wide receivers Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor will make secondaries tremble in their cleats. It’s a little bold to predict 19–0 for them, but I don’t think a Super Bowl ring is out of the question.

Awards

MVP: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Offensive Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Randy Gregory, DE, Dallas Cowboys
Coach of the Year: Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings
Comeback Player of the Year: NaVorro Bowman, LB, San Francisco 49ers


 

Austin Murphy

It took a surreal Seahawks comeback to keep these guys out of the last Super Bowl. The Pack’s bad luck won’t hold. This offense, directed by virtuoso Aaron Rodgers, is too loaded; the o-line too dominant, both at protecting No. 12 and opening holes for top-five running back Eddie Lacy. Davante Adams eases the sting of Jordy Nelson’s absence. “We gave it away,” lamented a gimpy Rodgers after the last NFC championship. This time, they won’t.

Awards

MVP: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Offensive Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Defensive Player of the Year: Mario Williams, DE, Buffalo Bills
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Randy Gregory, DE, Dallas Cowboys
Coach of the year: Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles
Comeback Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings


Joan Niesen

This pick is by no means original or unpopular, but it's hard to get away from the same old favorites as Super Bowl contenders. The Colts have been in the conversation since they drafted Andrew Luck, but I think this is finally the year they put it together. There's pressure on Chuck Pagano, Andrew Luck is one year older and better and with an improved receiving corps—and even an okay defense should be enough to propel Indianapolis to Santa Clara come February. As for the Seahawks, they have enough talent for a third consecutive trip, especially with the Packers losing Jordy Nelson, although I think in the big game, Indy's offense will have enough to edge by Seattle's always-impressive defense.

Awards

MVP: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Offensive Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Defensive Player of the Year: Robert Quinn, DE, St. Louis Rams
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Shane Ray, LB, Denver Broncos
Coach of the Year: Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts
Comeback Player of the Year: Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals


Amy Parlapiano

With all the talk of the Broncos’ impending demise, it feels like I went for the edgy, surprising pick by taking Denver to win it all. Except for that whole part where the Broncos are balanced on both sides of the ball, made their talented defense even stronger by adding coordinator Wade Phillips, and have a new head coach in Gary Kubiak whose run-heavy offense will help take the pressure off of Peyton Manning. (Look at what Kubiak did with Justin Forsett last year in Baltimore.) A consistently dangerous running game (plus a threatening, dominant defense) is just what Manning needs, and even with a fading arm, he can still beat teams with his mind. I think the year in which expectations are the lowest for Manning will be the one in which the highest achievement of all is reached.

Awards

MVP: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Offensive Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Leonard Williams, DE, New York Jets
Coach of the Year: Jeff Fisher, St. Louis Rams
Comeback Player of the Year: Sam Bradford, QB, Philadelphia Eagles


Eric Single

Three new division champs in the AFC and two new winners in the NFC—is that putting too much faith in parity? At the very least, I need to explain my No. 2 seeds. Miami's new faces on offense will benefit from some margin for error in the first half of the schedule to settle in for the stretch run, and I think the odds are in Ryan Tannehill's favor for a big leap in his fourth year. As for the Eagles: You don't know, and I don't know. This is the bet that Sam Bradford stays healthy and Chip Kelly keeps the rest of the league guessing.​

​Awards

MVP: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Offensive Player of the Year: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Shane Ray, LB, Denver Broncos
Coach of the Year: Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles
Comeback Player of the Year: Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.