QB Jared Goff looks for an open target during practice. Photo courtesy of David Ludwig/flickr

Most valuable player and other bold predictions for 2018 season

 

Super Bowl Prediction: Los Angeles Rams vs Jacksonville Jaguars 

Carried by their stellar defenses, these two teams will have no problem defending the top offensive juggernauts in the league throughout the playoffs. In the end, the Rams’ strong offense lead by Todd Gurley, will be too much for Blake Bortles and company to match. Expect a highly defensive game that is decided in the latter half of the matchup. Final Score: 20-10 Rams. 

National Football Conference (NFC) Championship: Rams and Packers 

Aaron Rodgers will be back in most valuable player (MVP) form, but the Packers defensive woes will come back to haunt them. Not to mention Sean McVay and the rest of the Rams coaching staff will be coming prepared with a strong offensive game plan. Jared Goff and Todd Gurley will wear down the Packers defense and close out the game. 

Final Score: 35-24 Rams. 

AFC Championship: Patriots and Jaguars 

These two teams met last year, but this time, the Jags will turn the tide and defeat the Tom Brady-led Patriots. The Jaguars’ stellar defense led by cornerback, Jalen Ramsey, will keep Brady at bay while Blake Bortles takes a huge leap forward offensively and has his best year yet.

Final score: 21-17 Jaguars. 

MVP: Todd Gurley / Los Angeles Rams

Todd Gurley was getting slight MVP nods last season before the award was handed to Tom Brady, but if the Rams manage to win the Super Bowl in 2018 there is no doubt that Gurley will be an integral reason for it. Head coach Sean McVay overhauled the Rams’ offense last year, during which Gurley saw himself not only be the Rams leading rusher but also its leading pass catcher. Obviously, the odds are stacked against Gurley to win MVP, as the last five winners have all been quarterbacks.

However, if there is anyone with enough talent to take it, it is definitely him. 

Offensive Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers / Green Bay Packers

After being sidelined with a broken collarbone during week six of the 2017 regular season, Rodgers returns to light the league on fire. Although he lost Jordy Nelson to free agency, his ability to throw his receivers open is unprecedented. He will end the season with the most touchdowns out of any quarterback, barring injury.

Expect at least 4,400 yards passing, 42 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. 

Defensive Player of the Year: Jalen Ramsey / Jacksonville Jaguars

An award usually given to defensive ends and linebackers, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, has enough talent to snag the award. Coming off a 2017 All-Pro and Pro Bowl season, Ramsey is the antithesis to many of the great receivers and quarterbacks in the league. In 2017, he and his teammate AJ Bouye held quarterbacks to their lowest completion rates when targeted at 35.7 percent and 38.7 percent, respectively.

With a chip as big as anyone else’s on his shoulder, the sky is the limit for Ramsey. 

Comeback Player of the Year: Josh Gordon / Cleveland Browns

Gordon has had a difficult relationship with the National Football League (NFL) and its substance abuse policies. Since he was suspended for the majority of the last three seasons, he has not had a chance to recreate his electric 2013 All-Pro year, which saw him achieve over 1,600 receiving yards.

Now, surrounded by new talent and a seemingly full season ahead of him, there is no limit to what he can do. 

Rookie of the Year: Saquon Barkley / New York Giants

The stars are aligned for Barkley to break out. All he has to do is go out there and grab it. The all-star of the most recent NFL Scouting Combine is going to a team that will depend on him from day one.

His job will be easier with Odell Beckham keeping safeties wary of staying in the box and the Giants’ offensive line improvement from last year. 

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Saquon Barkley

The second overall pick is a sure shot to get touches starting week 1. With the return of Beckham, Barkley is unlikely to see stacked boxes and can do some serious damage with a rare combination of size and speed.

Expect at least 1,000 rushing yards and 10 plus touchdowns on the ground. 

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Bradley Chubb

With a defense already featuring one of the game’s best pass rushers with Von Miller, Denver’s Bradley Chubb will have no problem reaching the quarterback in his inaugural season. The fifth overall pick was the first Edge player selected and will showcase his skills in the upcoming 2018 season. Teams will have no option but to cover Chubb with one man as Von Miller has proven that he requires a double team at the very least to keep him at bay.

Look for Chubb to end the year as the rookie sack leader. 

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