I'm excited to introduce a new column this week on SI.com. Starting with these preseason predictions, I will be following the top five candidates for the following awards on a weekly basis: MVP, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Offensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Each of these awards has subjective criteria. Here are the characteristics I will use to nominate players for recognition in this column.
In determining an MVP, I will look for players who greatly impact games through outstanding play on a consistent basis. While offensive stars tend to dominate this award, I won't exclude defensive players performing exceedingly well.
While the Offensive Player of the Year award often mirrors the league MVP, I will also spotlight a few unheralded players who are putting up big numbers on underperforming teams. Outstanding production will be critical, but impact on the offense also will be used to determine the nominees. The same will be true for Defensive POY.
Picking a Coach of the Year will be interesting because coaches with talent-laden rosters are often overlooked for the honor. That's not to say those coaches necessarily deserve the honor, but they should be recognized for doing a great job with the talent assembled. Also, coaches who are getting the most out of a depleted or talent-starved roster will be acknowledged.
In tabbing an Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year, I will base my judgments off impact and production. Typically, top rookies jump off the screen when watching tape, so I will try not to over-think my evaluation when picking the top guys.
Here are some of the leading candidates as we head into the season openers.
As part of a defensive unit that ranked first against the run last season, Allen should have plenty of chances to rush the passer off the edge. The results could be frightening.