The SB Nation writers came together to make our season predictions and I'm going to be upfront: you won't like the results. We are here to rage against the machine, of which I am clearly Bob Kraft and the faceless gods of the mothership are a collective Roger Goodell. I don't like it. But I have to take it.
We created an extremely comprehensive guide to the 2015 NFL Season, which is actually pretty great so I highly advise you take a look. It's a gorgeous piece of coding and Tom Brady is on the cover so you can't be too upset.
All of the writers had to offer their prediction for a handful of awards and the Patriots were shut out. Here's a summary of the awards, my ballot for full disclosure, and my reasoning for each vote.
AFC CHAMPS: Indianapolis Colts
My Vote: New England Patriots. Why shouldn't the Patriots get another crack at the title? The Colts received double the support of the Patriots as the AFC favorite. Indianapolis hasn't done anything to fix their issues on defense, and they actually just lost their best defensive lineman Art Jones for an indefinite period of time, so their run defense could be worse than last year. Yes, the Patriots are worse in the secondary, but their defensive front is what dreams are made of. They'll be fine.
NFC CHAMPS: Green Bay Packers
My Vote: Green Bay Packers. This vote happened before the Packers lost Jordy Nelson, but I don't think the injury changes my vote. The Packers have the best quarterback in the NFC and they have a lot of depth at receiver. They'll be fine.
SUPER BOWL WINNER: Green Bay Packers
My Vote: New England Patriots. Wait, I feel like a homer now, but I still think the Patriots would beat the Packers on a neutral field, even without Darrelle Revis in the secondary. No quarterback sees their passer rating fall more than Aaron Rodgers when he leaves the comfort of Lambeau. Yes, he falls from a superhuman passer rating of 116.8 (over the past five years) to a merely incredible 101.9, but that discrepancy leads to enough of a weakness where Rodgers' performance no longer fully compensates for the Green Bay defense.
OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Raiders receiver Amari Cooper
My Vote: Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor. I can't argue too heavily against Cooper because he will be the focal point of the Raiders offense, but Agholor is in a perfect situation to rack up the stats that will tip the scales in his favor. While both the Raiders and the Eagles ranked in the top 5 for passing attempts in 2014, Philadelphia picked up over 1,000 more passing yards under Chip Kelly. Cooper might be the better receiver, but Agholor is primed to have a larger rookie year.
DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Falcons edge defender Vic Beasley
My Vote: Saints edge defender Hau'oli Kikaha. This vote is the result of Kikaha's absolute dominance over the Patriots in the preseason. Kikaha will be playing outside linebacker in the Saints defense and looks to be a potential first team stud. He will be asked to rush the quarterback and just be an overall nuisance. He's going to make highlights and that will help him on his way to the rookie title.
MVP: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers
My Vote: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The "Most Valuable Peyton" has become the "Most Valuable Packer" award and Rodgers is going to clean up this award until further notice. He's the most talented player at the most important position and he makes throws that every other quarterback can only dream of. The biggest issue is Rodgers health. While he plays the full season, he doesn't finish the season healthy enough to make a Super Bowl run.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Colts quarterback Andrew Luck
My Vote: Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. There is no non-quarterback offensive player that has the same impact that Gronkowski has on a weekly basis. He's in his second year back from an ACL injury, which is when he should be back to his prime blocking and running form. He will be Tom Brady's favorite target in the red zone, on an offense that is about to go scorched earth on the league. Gronk gets the vote. I was the only one to vote for Gronk. Boo.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt
My Vote: Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt. So last year, Watt made the All Pro team in two separate positions- defensive end, and defensive tackle. Voters didn't know where to place him and he just dominated the vote. Well, J.J. Watt came in first place for our DPOY vote. JJ Watt (no periods) came in second place. That's how much of a lock a healthy Watt has on this award.
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Vikings running back Adrian Peterson
My Vote: Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford. For the same reason I gave Agholor the nod at OROY, I think Kelly will have a great impact on Bradford in his return to the field. He's looked great in the preseason and he should be productive. I also think voters will be reserved in their support of Peterson's return to the game as his situation is much different than Bradford's.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Eagles head coach Chip Kelly
My Vote: Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. You know what's really sad? I was the only vote for Belichick. That's unfathomable to me. If you ask any single person "who is the best coach in the league?" Belichick is the unanimous answer, even by people who can't stand Belichick or the Patriots. If the MVP is able to go to Peyton or Rodgers for being the best player in the league, even if they just meet expectations, why does Belichick have to go 16-0 to even have a shot at winning the Coach of the Year award?
I'm going to riff on this for a bit. Belichick has only won coach of the year three times. The award is gifted prior to the Super Bowl, so those aren't taken into account. Belichick won in 2003, for ripping through the league on a 14-game win streak prior to the Super Bowl appearance, in 2007, for posting the first 16-0 season in league history (and he barely edged out Packers head coach Mike McCarthy for the wind), and in 2010, for posting a league-best 14-2 with MVP Tom Brady and only one player (BenJarvus Green-Ellis) picking up over 1,000 yards from scrimmage.
Belichick lost in 2006 to Sean Payton's 44 of 50 votes, who took a 3-13 Saints team to 10-6 and the 2nd seed in the NFC. The Jets Eric Mangini picked up 3 votes. Belichick led the carcass of a Patriots team to 12-4. No big deal.
Belichick didn't even get a single vote in 2011 when the Patriots, with their historically bad defense, went 13-3 and made it to the Super Bowl. The 49ers Jim Harbaugh nearly swept the vote after taking a 6-10 San Francisco team to 13-3.
Belichick came in 3rd in 2013, after the Patriots went through one of the most tumultuous off-seasons in history with incredible roster turnover and distraction. New England went 12-4 and made the AFC Conference Championship. Riverboat Ron Rivera of the 12-4 Panthers and Andy Reid of the 11-5 Chiefs placed ahead of Belichick in the vote.
The only reason that Belichick doesn't win this award every single year is because of voter fatigue; they don't want the same person to receive the trophy on an annual basis. That doesn't seem to be the issue when it comes to the same players receiving the award year-after-year-after-Peyton, but it does matter with the Coach award.
Now there are some clear cases where other coaches had truly exceptional years; Bruce Arians with both the Colts (2012) and Cardinals (2014) were amazing outputs in the face of adversity. He deserved to win those.
But what the heck does Belichick have to do in order to win another Coach of the Year award?