The 2020 NFL season is finally here. You know what that means: It’s time for predictions! When the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs square off to begin this year’s hunt for the Lombardi Trophy, we’ll also get our first look at some favored candidates for major accolades, from former MVP Patrick Mahomes to potential Offensive Rookie of the Year Clyde Edwards-Helaire. So as the games roll in, we decided to put our team to the test and forecast every single major award on the line in 2020.

Right here, right now, we’ve got predictions for:

  • Super Bowl LV champion
  • Super Bowl LV MVP
  • Regular-season MVP
  • Offensive Player of the Year
  • Defensive Player of the Year
  • Coach of the Year
  • Offensive Rookie of the Year
  • Defensive Rookie of the Year
  • Breakout Player
  • Team Bound for a Steep Decline
  • Team Bound for a Big Step Up

And here’s the full cast of CBS Sports NFL experts who made picks: NFL insider Jason La Canfora, senior writer Pete Prisco, Pick Six Podcast host Will Brinson, senior reporter Jonathan Jones, and staff writers Cody Benjamin, John Breech, Jordan Dajani, Bryan DeArdo, Jared Dubin, Josh Edwards, Jeff Kerr, Tyler Sullivan, Chris Trapasso, Patrik Walker and Ryan Wilson.

Agree with our predictions? Disagree? Just pumped for football to be back? Either way, sit back, relax and enjoy:

Super Bowl LV champion

Jason La Canfora: Ravens

Super motivated and super talented.

Pete Prisco: Chiefs

How can you go against Patrick Mahomes and that offense? You can’t.

Will Brinson: Colts

Super high floor, bad division, massive improvements on both side of the ball with the additions of Philip Rivers, Jonathan Taylor, Michael Pittman and DeForest Buckner.

Jonathan Jones: Saints

The Saints finally add a second Lombardi after being one of the league’s most consistent teams the last three years. Drew Brees rides off into the sunset.

Ryan Wilson: Buccaneers

Tampa Bay’s defense is a top-five unit. And they’ll face less pressure because the offense that led the league in takeaways the last two seasons now has Tom Brady.

John Breech: Cowboys

Jerry Jones has brainwashed me.

Jared Dubin: Chiefs

They have Patrick Mahomes, and nobody else does. 

Cody Benjamin: Ravens

Lamar Jackson is this year’s version of 2019 Patrick Mahomes — fired up and motivated from a tough playoff exit. His supporting cast also happens to be world-class.

Tyler Sullivan: Buccaneers

Their championship window is small, but Tampa Bay makes quick work to get a Lombardi early in the Brady era. Arguably the most well-rounded team in the NFL from top to bottom.

Patrik Walker: Cowboys

There’s just too much talent and it’s now driven by a proven head coach with a chip on his shoulder. They edge the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

Jordan Dajani: Ravens

The Ravens were the best team in the regular season last year, but they found out that’s not enough to go all the way. They will take the lessons they learned in 2019 and win the Super Bowl this year.

Bryan DeArdo: Chiefs

They have the talent and overall depth to be the first NFL team to repeat since the 2003-2004 Patriots. The Chiefs’ strength of schedule (tied for the 18th-easiest in the NFL) should enable them to lock up the No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs.

Jeff Kerr: Chiefs

Eighteen of 22 starters back from a Super Bowl championship team with Patrick Mahomes at 100 percent and offensive maestro Andy Reid as head coach. Hard to go against them.

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Chris Trapasso: Saints

Best top-to-bottom roster in the NFL. After a few years of playoff nightmares, the Saints get it done, and Brees walks off into the sunset, because that’s where legendary QBs walk after they win a Super Bowl in their final season, apparently.

Josh Edwards: Saints

The Saints are motivated to win in what could be Drew Brees’ final season. The team has more continuity than nearly every team in the league and that should benefit them in an already peculiar year.

THE FINAL TALLY:

  1. Chiefs (4)
  2. Saints (3)
  3. Ravens (3)
  4. Buccaneers (2)
  5. Cowboys (2)
  6. Colts (1)

Super Bowl LV MVP

Jason La Canfora: Lamar Jackson

The game-winning QB usually gets the hardware.

Pete Prisco: Patrick Mahomes

He will have an even better game in his second Super Bowl.

Will Brinson: Philip Rivers

QB for the Super Bowl-winning team cements his Hall of Fame resume. 

Jonathan Jones: Michael Thomas

Feel like this one may go to Brees as a final lifetime achievement award, but it’ll be hard to ignore Michael Thomas’ 16 receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

Ryan Wilson: Chris Godwin

Godwin was just about unstoppable last season, and now he has the greatest player in league history throwing him the ball.

John Breech: Ezekiel Elliott

I’m serious, Jerry brainwashed me.

Jared Dubin: Patrick Mahomes

He’s the best player in the league.

Cody Benjamin: Lamar Jackson

Let’s be honest: If the Ravens win it, we all know who’s going to be playing Superman.

Tyler Sullivan: Tom Brady

If the Bucs are going to win Super Bowl LV in their home stadium as I predict, it’s going to be on TB12’s shoulders. That’s five Super Bowl MVPs for those counting at home.

Patrik Walker: Dak Prescott

Another contract year and more doubters outside the building, plus the most weapons in the NFL and McCarthy means it’s Prescott’s time.

Jordan Dajani: Lamar Jackson

The year after Patrick Mahomes won regular-season MVP, he won Super Bowl MVP. Lamar Jackson follows that path.

Bryan DeArdo: Travis Kelce

Fun fact: No tight end has ever been named Super Bowl MVP. (The Bengals’ Dan Ross would likely have been named MVP had Cincinnati defeated the 49ers way back in Super Bowl XVI.) Kelce, who caught six passes for 43 yards and a touchdown in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl win over the 49ers, could be the first to do it.

Jeff Kerr: Tyreek Hill

Hard to go against Mahomes, but Hill puts up a clinic and has a monster game in Tampa. The six 140+ yard receiving games showcase his ability to change a game. 

Chris Trapasso: Michael Thomas

I could totally envision a scenario in which Brees doesn’t have a monstrous Super Bowl but Thomas does and takes home the hardware.

Josh Edwards: Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas has been Drew Brees’ favorite target, and that will not change on the game’s biggest stage. 

THE FINAL TALLY:

  1. Michael Thomas (3)
  2. Lamar Jackson (3)
  3. Patrick Mahomes (2)
  4. Tom Brady (1)
  5. Chris Godwin (1)
  6. Ezekiel Elliott (1)
  7. Dak Prescott (1)
  8. Tyreek Hill (1)
  9. Philip Rivers (1)
  10. Travis Kelce (1)

Regular season MVP

Jason La Canfora: Patrick Mahomes

The best player in the game is loaded with weapons.

Pete Prisco: Patrick Mahomes

The numbers will be eye-opening.

Will Brinson: Matthew Stafford

Long shot here, but I think the Lions can win 10+ games, win the NFC North and maybe even make a playoff run.

Jonathan Jones: Patrick Mahomes

With kneecap properly located all year, Mahomes returns to his league MVP glory.

Ryan Wilson: Russell Wilson

Wilson finally gets his due after leading the Seahawks to the division title.

John Breech: Dak Prescott

I wasn’t kidding about the brainwashing thing.

Jared Dubin: Patrick Mahomes

I’ve been trying to tell you.

Cody Benjamin: Patrick Mahomes

It’s the boring pick, yes, but his 2019 numbers were “down” by his standards. Another 40-touchdown year seems reasonable.

Tyler Sullivan: Patrick Mahomes

This regular season is going to come down to continuity, which the Chiefs have in spades. I don’t expect Mahomes to rest on the laurels of his first title and will show that he’s hungry for more accolades throughout 2020.

Patrik Walker: Dak Prescott

Even if the first two Cowboys predictions (Super Bowl and SB MVP) don’t come true, I project this to be an MVP season for Prescott, because look at his weapons, motivation and coach.

Jordan Dajani: Russell Wilson

It’s about time Russell Wilson got his MVP. D.K. Metcalf’s huge second season will help him as well.

Bryan DeArdo: Tom Brady

While Brady (for various reasons) staggered to the finish line during the end of his run in New England, the 43-year-old will be surrounded with talent in Tampa Bay.

Jeff Kerr: Russell Wilson

The only QB to toss 100 TD passes over the last three years. It’s time for Wilson to get his due with the best cast of playmakers he’s ever had.

Chris Trapasso: Dak Prescott

I think Dallas will be in a handful of high-scoring games, and Prescott has too many high-caliber weapons to not be extremely productive on what should be the winners of the NFC East.

Josh Edwards: Drew Brees

Drew Brees has never won MVP honors. Voters do not like naming the same MVP often, so it is not unreasonable to think they might do right by Brees and send him into the sunset with some shiny hardware.

THE FINAL TALLY:

  1. Patrick Mahomes (6)
  2. Dak Prescott (3)
  3. Russell Wilson (3)
  4. Drew Brees (1)
  5. Tom Brady (1)
  6. Matthew Stafford (1)

Offensive Player of the Year

Jason La Canfora: Russell Wilson

Always gets snubbed in MVP votes but outplays pretty much everyone.

Pete Prisco: Patrick Mahomes

Make it a clean sweep of all the major awards.

Will Brinson: Alvin Kamara

People are severely downplaying his impact on the Saints offense. A healthy Kamara is a monster.

Jonathan Jones: Patrick Mahomes

In recent years, this award usually goes to the league MVP, too. I think 50-plus passing touchdowns from Mahomes earns him the second piece of hardware.

Ryan Wilson: Kyler Murray

Don’t be surprised if Murray throws for 4,500 yards and runs for 700 yards as the leader on a high-powered Cardinals offense.

John Breech: Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes is going to win some sort of award every year, and since it’s not going to be MVP in 2020, it’s going to be OPOY.

Jared Dubin: Dak Prescott

I think the Cowboys offense is going to be hilariously good. I also think the defense will be kinda bad, so the offense will need to keep throwing.

Cody Benjamin: Saquon Barkley

Mahomes will probably get it if he wins MVP, but Barkley is due for a monster year after a relatively quiet 2019. Under Joe Judge and Jason Garrett, he should be both a workhorse on the ground and a hot safety valve for Daniel Jones.

Tyler Sullivan: Saquon Barkley

Barkley missed three games last season and was still able to go over 1,400 yards from scrimmage with eight touchdowns. With Daniel Jones rolling into Year Two and more weapons for him in the passing game, that should open things up for Barkley to get back to his dominant ways and remind the league just how great of a back he is.

Patrik Walker: Patrick Mahomes

If Mahomes doesn’t win MVP again in 2020, he’s a lock for OPOTY, especially after shooting it out with Prescott in Super Bowl LV.

Jordan Dajani: Patrick Mahomes

Mahomes has another incredible season. No Super Bowl hangover for this squad.

Bryan DeArdo: Patrick Mahomes

If he is able to stay healthy, Mahomes — who threw 50 touchdowns during his first season as a starter — should be the odds-on favorite to win his second MVP in three years.

Jeff Kerr: Patrick Mahomes

Another monster season for Mahomes as the Chiefs roll through the AFC. Due to insane expectations, he’ll need to throw 55 TDs to win MVP — which he’s certainly capable of doing.

Chris Trapasso: Russell Wilson

Wilson’s never won any official individual hardware in the NFL. What’s up with that? Another year elevating the talent around him should get him OPOY, which for him really could be considered a career achievement award.

Josh Edwards: Lamar Jackson

Patrick Mahomes has his Super Bowl and a lucrative new deal. Lamar Jackson looks at that and wants the same for himself. He continues to impress as the Ravens make it to Super Bowl LV.

THE FINAL TALLY:

  1. Patrick Mahomes (7)
  2. Russell Wilson (2)
  3. Saquon Barkley (2)
  4. Lamar Jackson (1)
  5. Kyler Murray (1)
  6. Alvin Kamara (1)
  7. Dak Prescott (1)

Defensive Player of the Year

Jason La Canfora: T.J. Watt

Loaded with talent around him on a team that should win a lot of games.

Pete Prisco: Joey Bosa

He’s got a new contract that makes him the highest-paid defensive player — and he will play to that and more this season.

Will Brinson: Myles Garrett

Averaging almost a sack a game for his career and better play 16 games after signing that contract this offseason. 

Jonathan Jones: J.J. Watt

A lot is riding on Watt’s health, but I think he’s primed to nab his fourth DPOY this season over his brother and Aaron Donald.

Ryan Wilson: T.J. Watt

Watt had 14.5 sacks last season and 13 more in 2018. He’s only getting better as he heads into the final year of his rookie deal.

John Breech: Nick Bosa

I think one of the Bosa brothers will win this award, so I flipped a coin and Nick came up.

Jared Dubin: Aaron Donald

I keep saying every year that I’ll pick Donald until someone else clearly claims the mantle of best defender alive. That hasn’t happened yet.

Cody Benjamin: T.J. Watt

Why in the world are we not talking about T.J. like we do J.J.? This guy is ferocious off the edge of a great Steelers “D.”

Tyler Sullivan: T.J. Watt

Watt is coming into this season already with two double-digit sack seasons under his belt and he led the league with eight forced fumbles in 2019. With the Steelers set to improve with Big Ben returning, he’s primed to take a leap as the league’s best defensive player.

Patrik Walker: T.J. Watt

With Nick Bosa resetting the market, the younger Watt is next in line, and 2020 will solidify that for him.

Jordan Dajani: Nick Bosa

The 49ers’ defensive line was a big reason they got to the Super Bowl last year, and Bosa is going to build on his huge rookie season to take home Defensive Player of the Year.

Bryan DeArdo: T.J. Watt

Watt’s stats have increased each season since he entered the NFL in 2017. If he can improve upon the 14.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles he recorded in 2020, he will likely become the third Steeler to win the award in Mike Tomlin’s 14-year tenure in Pittsburgh.

Jeff Kerr: Nick Bosa

Bosa has a year in the NFL under his belt and is primed for a monster season in Robert Saleh’s defense. The 49ers front four will certainly help free him up.

Chris Trapasso: Nick Bosa

The younger Bosa is relentless and can win in a multitude of ways around the corner. He goes from Defensive Rookie of the Year to Defensive Player of the Year in his first two seasons in San Francisco.

Josh Edwards: T.J. Watt

The Steelers have more opportunities on national television, which elevates the profile of T.J. Watt. He puts together back-to-back destructive seasons. Myles Garrett will be in contention, but voters will hold his actions from last season against him.

THE FINAL TALLY:

  1. T.J. Watt (7)
  2. Nick Bosa (4)
  3. Aaron Donald (1)
  4. J.J. Watt (1)
  5. Joey Bosa (1)
  6. Myles Garrett (1)

Coach of the Year

Jason La Canfora: Bill Belichick

Imagine if he wins the division with that roster and without Tom Brady.

Pete Prisco: Sean McDermott

I think they win the division and make a deep playoff run.

Will Brinson: Kliff Kingsbury

The Cardinals win 9+ games, Murray makes a big leap forward and Kingsbury picks up hardware.

Jonathan Jones: Sean Payton

Would love to give this to Andy Reid, but he can do nothing short of 16-0 to win this. I think Payton getting four straight NFC South titles in what will be the tough division earns him this.

Ryan Wilson: Sean McDermott

This is the Bills’ year. With Tom Brady now in Tampa, the AFC East if Buffalo’s for the taking.

John Breech: Bill Belichick

Belichick should win this award nearly every year, but he doesn’t because I think the voters take him for granted. I don’t think they’ll take for granted what he does this year without Tom Brady.

Jared Dubin: Sean McDermott

If somebody other than the Patriots finally wins the AFC East, I feel like this award will default to that guy.

Cody Benjamin: Bruce Arians

The Bucs haven’t made the playoffs since 2007. Just clinching a postseason berth is going to get Arians consideration, and he’s won this one before.

Tyler Sullivan: Bill Belichick

It’s comical that Belichick has only won this award three times throughout his career, but the bar is admittedly set a bit higher for the legendary coach. Without Tom Brady this year, however, this puts Belichick in the running for this award, especially when he leads New England to another AFC East title.

Patrik Walker: Mike McCarthy

There are coaches with bigger challenges, roster-wise, but something tells me McCarthy gets Dallas to where they haven’t been in 25 years and in Year One — a big deal.

Jordan Dajani: Kevin Stefanski

After the Browns’ horrific 2019 campaign, they make the playoffs in Kevin Stefanski’s first season.

Bryan DeArdo: Kevin Stefanski

The Browns’ talented roster produced just six wins last season. If Cleveland actually lives up to its hype in 2020, Stefanski should be a shoo-in to receive the award.

Jeff Kerr: Bill Belichick

New quarterback and pundits (including myself) believe his success revolves around Tom Brady. If Cam Newton leads him to the AFC East title …

Chris Trapasso: Sean McDermott

The Bills capture the AFC East crown, and Buffalo’s head coach is rewarded for the accomplishment. The job he’s done with the Bills in his time in Western New York factors in here as well.

Josh Edwards: Mike Tomlin

Pittsburgh should be much improved with reliable quarterback play. Their defense should only get better, and Ben Roethlisberger is back on the field.

THE FINAL TALLY:

  1. Sean McDermott (4)
  2. Bill Belichick (4)
  3. Kevin Stefanski (2)
  4. Sean Payton (1)
  5. Bruce Arians (1)
  6. Mike Tomlin (1)
  7. Kliff Kingsbury (1)
  8. Mike McCarthy (1)

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Jason La Canfora: Joe Burrow

Don’t overthink it.

Pete Prisco: Joe Burrow

He will look and play like a veteran from Week 1. He’s that kind of player.

Will Brinson: Clyde Edwards-Helaire

No competition for touches in Andy Reid’s offense. 

Jonathan Jones: Joe Burrow

I’m going chalky here. You won’t be able to look away from the numbers Burrow puts up even if they only win six games.

Ryan Wilson: Joe Burrow

The Bengals are better than their 2-14 record from a season ago and Burrow will obviously play a big role in a turnaround that could happen faster than most people expect.

John Breech: Joe Burrow

Burrow doesn’t have to be great; he just has to be good, and I think he’s going to be good. 

Jared Dubin: Joe Burrow

He’s a quarterback and he’s starting from Day One. That’s an obvious recipe for the OROY.

Cody Benjamin: Tua Tagovailoa

While everyone and their mother takes Joey Burrow, I’ll take my chances with Tua, who may not open the year on the field but will undoubtedly dazzle with both his arms and legs whenever he finally takes over an underrated Dolphins team.

Tyler Sullivan: Clyde Edwards-Helaire

He’s set to be the No. 1 running back in arguably the most potent offense in the NFL. I expect a Kareem Hunt-like rookie season and show out from the get-go.

Patrik Walker: Joe Burrow

I mean, seriously, are we going to pretend otherwise? No, we are not.

Jordan Dajani: Joe Burrow

The Bengals won’t be competing for the Super Bowl in 2020, but Joe Burrow will make them better instantly. 

Bryan DeArdo: Joe Burrow

Burrow will be given the keys to an offense that includes perennial Pro Bowler A.J. Green, 1,000-yard receiver Tyler Boyd, speedster John Ross, fellow rookie Tee Higgins, and running back Joe Mixon, who was recently given a long-term extension. Burrow will also have the luxury of working with coach Zac Taylor, who previously helped Jared Goff blossom into a franchise quarterback in Los Angeles.

Jeff Kerr: Clyde Edwards-Helaire

He’s primed for a huge role in the Chiefs offense, especially in the passing game, after Damien Williams opted out due to COVID. Expect a huge year from the former LSU star. 

Chris Trapasso: Joe Burrow

The Cincinnati line will give him fits at times, but Burrow’s ultra-accurate ways and calm demeanor will push the Bengals toward competency in 2020.

Josh Edwards: Joe Burrow

Joe Burrow is going to start for the Bengals in Week 1. He will experience some growing pains, but the deck is stacked in his favor.

THE FINAL TALLY:

  1. Joe Burrow (11)
  2. Clyde Edwards-Helaire (3)
  3. Tua Tagovailoa (1)

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Jason La Canfora: Chase Young

Don’t overthink it.

Pete Prisco: Derrick Brown

He will be a force inside from his first game on. His power and quickness will be tough to handle.

Will Brinson: Chase Young

Take the low odds on the top pass rusher in a year with a bunch of defensive backs. 

Jonathan Jones: Chase Young

Keeping the chalk in hand, Young was a monster all training camp, and I can see him getting around 15 sacks in Year 1.

Ryan Wilson: Chase Young

This is an obvious choice. The No. 1 prospect in the 2020 draft class joins a stout defensive line, and as a result he’ll get plenty of opportunities to make plays in the backfield.

John Breech: Patrick Queen

I’m feeling a clean sweep for the AFC North with the rookie of the year awards.

Jared Dubin: Patrick Queen

Voters love tackles and he is going to rack up a ton in the middle of this Baltimore defense. If Chase Young gets “merely” seven or eight sacks, I think someone else takes the trophy.

Cody Benjamin: Kenneth Murray

For the same reasons Patrick Queen will shine anchoring Baltimore’s defense, Murray has the makings of a tackle machine behind a loaded Chargers front four. Why can’t he be this year’s Darius Leonard?

Tyler Sullivan: Chase Young

He’s a generational pass rusher and he’ll bring an elite presence to Washington’s defense out of the gate. Pretty easy call here.

Patrik Walker: Patrick Queen

Outside of CeeDee Lamb, no rookie is in a better position to instantly succeed than Queen.

Jordan Dajani: Chase Young

Chase Young makes an immediate impact on Washington’s defense and leads the team in sacks.

Bryan DeArdo: Chase Young

There’s a reason why Young was the first defensive player taken in the draft. In just 12 games last fall, Young recorded 16.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles for the Buckeyes.

Jeff Kerr: Chase Young

No second thought here. He’s going to be a problem in the NFC East for years to come. 

Chris Trapasso: Patrick Queen

The former LSU linebacker is going to be kept clean by Baltimore’s huge, powerful defensive front. Plenty of tackles and some plays in coverage are coming. Also, in Wink Martindale’s blitz-obsessed scheme, Queen will get into the stat book with a handful of sacks, too.

Josh Edwards: Chase Young

Really going out on a limb by taking the No. 1 and No. 2 overall selections to win Rookie of the Year honors. But they are both in a better position than other rookies. Young will have plenty of opportunities to get to the quarterback with talent surrounding him. 

THE FINAL TALLY:

  1. Chase Young (9)
  2. Patrick Queen (4)
  3. Derrick Brown (1)
  4. Kenneth Murray (1)

Comeback Player of the Year

Jason La Canfora: Cam Newton

Hate him at your own peril.

Pete Prisco: Alex Smith

Just suiting up makes him the winner.

Will Brinson: Ben Roethlisberger

Easy choice here. QB coming off elbow surgery. If the Steelers make the playoffs, he’s a lock.

Jonathan Jones: Matthew Stafford

The Lions were absolutely nothing without Stafford last year. He comes back and gets them into the playoffs and wins this award.

Ryan Wilson: Alex Smith

This is one of the most amazing stories we can remember. Even if Smith doesn’t see the field for one snap, the fact that he’s made it this far is reason enough to give him the award.

John Breech: Alex Smith

Smith should win this award even if he doesn’t play a single down. 

Jared Dubin: Alex Smith

He’d already have my vote, if I had one.

Cody Benjamin: Ben Roethlisberger

It feels like we’re forgetting just how productive Big Ben was the year prior to his injury. If he and his team stay healthy, Pittsburgh will not only produce a handful of Pro Bowlers but be back in the title conversation.

Tyler Sullivan: Cam Newton

After winning the starting job in Foxborough, the stars are aligning for Newton to reestablish himself as one of the better quarterbacks the league has to offer. Alex Smith and Ben Roethlisberger will be in the hunt here as well.

Patrik Walker: Cam Newton

Now healthy, tethered to Bill Belichick and with a ton of motivation to shut his haters up, Newton will do serious damage.

Jordan Dajani: Alex Smith

Alex Smith’s leg injury almost cost him his life, yet he worked his way back onto Washington’s roster. It’s incredible that he’s back in the league.

Bryan DeArdo: Ben Roethlisberger

Big Ben says his arm is pain-free for the first time in years. He’s also leaner and motivated to prove that he is still a top-flight NFL quarterback. The Steelers have set him up for success with the additions of free agent Eric Ebron and rookie receiver Chase Claypool.

Jeff Kerr: Cam Newton

Hungry dogs run faster. Newton is motivated to prove his doubters wrong and become the next franchise quarterback in New England.

Chris Trapasso: Philip Rivers

He’s going to have a resurgent season at 38 years old (he turns 39 in December) behind Quenton Nelson and the Colts’ Kevlar offensive line.

Josh Edwards: Ben Roethlisberger

The award could be given to Alex Smith simply because of his remarkable recovery. However, fans should not expect him to play this season. Ben Roethlisberger will have Pittsburgh back in contention this season.

THE FINAL TALLY:

  1. Alex Smith (5)
  2. Cam Newton (4)
  3. Ben Roethlisberger (4)
  4. Matthew Stafford (1)
  5. Philip Rivers (1)

Breakout Player

Jason La Canfora: Marquise Brown

He had a very nice rookie season playing at about 75 percent. Rebuilt his body. Look out.

Pete Prisco: Josh Allen

This will be the year when people start praising him rather than ripping him.

Will Brinson: Ed Oliver

Tempted to take Oliver for DPOY, but it’s a massive long shot. Instead I’ll plug him here as a guy who could really burst onto the scene if he sees a major increase in his snaps in Buffalo. 

Jonathan Jones: CeeDee Lamb

I feel like, for fantasy purposes, I have to go with a receiver. Lamb was the best value pick of the first round of the draft, and he deserves some accolade here.

Ryan Wilson: Diontae Johnson

Johnson had 59 receptions for 680 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie catching passes from Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges. He could double those numbers with a healthy Big Ben.

John Breech: John Ross

If Ross wants to prove he’s not a bust, this is the year to do it, and I think he’ll put up some big numbers with Burrow as his QB.

Jared Dubin: George Kittle

I’m not sure he counts because he’s already a superstar and just got paid, but I think Kittle hits a whole new level this year. (If Kittle doesn’t count in your book, then my answer is “Hollywood” Brown.)

Cody Benjamin: Terry McLaurin

We didn’t talk enough about McLaurin’s big-play rookie year in an otherwise sluggish Washington offense. In Year Two with Dwayne Haskins, he’s got the skill set to go off for 1,200 yards and double-digit scores.

Tyler Sullivan: Kyler Murray

Murray is an easy choice here. The Cardinals went out this offseason and acquired one of the best receivers in the NFL in DeAndre Hopkins, further setting up a huge second season for the 2019 No. 1 overall pick. He should be fantastic and possibly even in the MVP discussion.

Patrik Walker: Drew Lock

He hinted at his prowess both in the early preseason and on the back end of the Broncos season. Add Jerry Jeudy to the mix, and Lock should do big things in Year Two.

Jordan Dajani: Drew Lock

The Broncos spent this offseason trying to upgrade the weapons around Drew Lock, and he’s going to impress during his first full season as the starting quarterback in Denver.

Bryan DeArdo: J.K. Dobbins

While Mark Ingram will begin the year as the starter, expect a heavy diet of carries from Dobbins, the first player in Ohio State’s fabled history to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season. Don’t be surprised if Dobbins and Ingram each rush for over 1,000 yards this season for the Ravens.

Jeff Kerr: Marquise Brown

Brown added 14 pounds since he was drafted and is healthier and faster than ever before. Not to mention he’s a lot more comfortable in the Ravens system. He’s going to catch a lot of long touchdowns in an already explosive Ravens offense.

Chris Trapasso: Drew Lock

The offensive line scares me slightly. But Lock plays with no fear and has a talented track team around him.

Josh Edwards: Jeffery Simmons

Jeffery Simmons flashed some of his potential in a shortened season last year. He will shoulder more of the load this season and appears well-equipped to handle that pressure.

THE FINAL TALLY:

  1. Drew Lock (3)
  2. Marquise Brown (2)
  3. Josh Allen (1)
  4. Kyler Murray (1)
  5. Ed Oliver (1)
  6. CeeDee Lamb (1)
  7. Diontae Johnson (1)
  8. George Kittle (1)
  9. Terry McLaurin (1)
  10. John Ross (1)
  11. J.K. Dobbins (1)
  12. Jeffery Simmons (1)

Teams Bound for Steep Decline

Jason La Canfora: Texans

They won’t stay on their AFC South perch. I see regression on both sides of the ball.

Pete Prisco: Texans

I just don’t think they are good enough — even with Deshaun Watson. Their time at the top of the AFC South is over.

Will Brinson: Packers

The Jets and Seahawks also work here.

Jonathan Jones: Vikings

Longtime defensive coordinator George Edwards is gone. Stefon Diggs has a new home in Buffalo. Kirk Cousins may play better in front of no one, but I think Minnesota misses the playoffs in 2020.

Ryan Wilson: Texans

To his credit, coach Bill O’Brien wins games, even if you might not like the manner in which he does it. But can general manager Bill O’Brien get out of his own way? We’re not so sure.

John Breech: Packers

From my point of view, a team has to be at least three games worse than they were last season to qualify for a steep decline, and I think the top two teams that fit that description are the Packers and Texans.

Jared Dubin: Raiders

The Raiders, like the Jets (another good choice here) just have an awful defense.

Cody Benjamin: Vikings

They’ve still got some great foundational pieces, but you don’t sub out Stefon Diggs, Kevin Stefanski, Everson Griffen and three-fifths of your starting secondary without hitting some serious speed bumps.

Tyler Sullivan: Rams

They took a significant plunge a season ago, going 9-7 following a trip to Super Bowl LIII, but I see this free fall continuing in 2020. Los Angeles’ roster is the epitome of stars-and-scrubs, and that won’t win you many games in the NFL, especially when you’re playing in as tough of a division as the NFC West is primed to be. The Rams could be looking at a last-place finish here.

Patrik Walker: Texans

Not because of Deshaun Watson, but because there’s no DeAndre Hopkins and the RB room is still unimpressive. Watson will be asked to save the day far too often.

Jordan Dajani: Patriots

The Patriots lost Tom Brady and had more players opt out than any other team due to COVID-19. Cam Newton is a decent replacement, but I don’t think they win double-digit games or win the AFC East.

Bryan DeArdo: 49ers

The 49ers have been hit with an unforgiving amount of injuries at the receiver position. They are also entrenched in arguably the NFL’s toughest division, a division that should be even tougher this season with the Cardinals expected to be a more competitive bunch in Kliff Kingsbury’s second year in the desert. The Patriots also qualify; their reign as the NFL’s premier team is over.

Jeff Kerr: Packers

They’re still a playoff team because of Aaron Rodgers (and probably will win the division), but don’t expect this team to go 13-3 again. 

Chris Trapasso: Texans

The acquisitions of Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb are nice. They won’t replicate the production of DeAndre Hopkins, nor the amount of attention he got in the Texans’ offense. And their defense needs work.

Josh Edwards: Jets

Joe Douglas is doing a fantastic job with that organization, but you have to crack a couple of eggs to make an omelet. The upcoming season will be the last for Adam Gase, and New York will use their treasure trove of picks to begin their rebuild.

THE FINAL TALLY:

  1. Texans (5)
  2. Packers (3)
  3. Vikings (2)
  4. Jets (2)
  5. 49ers (1)
  6. Rams (1)
  7. Patriots (1)
  8. Bears (1)
  9. Broncos (1)
  10. Falcons (1)
  11. Raiders (1)

Teams Bound for a Big Step Up

Jason La Canfora: Cardinals

They’re a Wild Card team if they get a modicum of help from the defense.

Pete Prisco: Cardinals

They made a lot of good moves to improve a bad defense, and the offense with Kyler Murray will be explosive.

Will Brinson: Colts

The Browns, Lions, Cardinals and Cowboys also work here.

Jonathan Jones: Falcons

Everyone is understandably focused on the Saints and Bucs, but Dan Quinn turned the ship around midway through last year. By performing under pressure, and by putting out a starting offense of 11 first-round picks, the Falcons will get into the postseason.

Ryan Wilson: Colts

It starts with Philip Rivers, but don’t sleep on this defense, either, as Indy is my preseason favorite to win the division.

John Breech: Buccaneers

From my point of view, a team has to be at least three games better than they were last season to qualify for a big step up, and I think the top teams that fit that description are the Buccaneers, Colts, Steelers, Lions and Bengals.

Jared Dubin: Steelers

Ben is back.

Cody Benjamin: Buccaneers

It’s an easy call with Tom Brady in the house, but it’s not just Brady. It’s Gronk, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, an underrated defense and a coach in Bruce Arians who will be calling the shots like it’s Super Bowl or bust.

Tyler Sullivan: Steelers

They were a .500 squad that nearly made the playoffs last year with quarterbacks named Duck and Rudolph at the helm, so I’m not really going too far out on a limb to say that Pittsburgh is going to be good in 2020. The return of Ben Roethlisberger will bring stability under center and gives this offense potential to be extremely potent. When you pair that offense with their stellar defense, the Steelers will be a force.

Patrik Walker: Dolphins

I love what Brian Flores has cooking in Miami, and I believe they raise more than a few eyebrows in 2020 as they push for the AFC East crown.

Jordan Dajani: Cardinals

The Cardinals may reside in the toughest division in football, but Arizona upgraded on both sides of the ball this offseason.

Bryan DeArdo: Steelers

Not only is Big Ben back in the fold, Pittsburgh gave him more weapons in the form of Chase Claypool and Eric Ebron. The Steelers’ defense also includes two of the league’s best defenders in linebacker T.J. Watt and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Pittsburgh’s 31st-ranked strength of schedule should also help them end their two-year playoff drought. The Chargers also qualify; they have the talent to compete for a Wild Card spot.

Jeff Kerr: Cardinals

Not sure if they’re a playoff team, but they are built for long-term success with Kyler Murray leading the charge. They’ll be a problem in the NFC West with an explosive offense and a much-improved defense.

Chris Trapasso: Panthers

A lot of obvious picks here (Bucs, Bengals, Lions), but I’ll go with the Panthers. Matt Rhule is a fine football coach, there’s plenty of youthful talent on both sides of the ball, and I think Teddy Bridgewater is going to have an underrated season with Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel and Christian McCaffrey in this offense.

Josh Edwards: Lions

Detroit suffered an injury to Matthew Stafford early in the 2019 season and did not have a reasonable replacement option. If Stafford can stay healthy, there is reason to believe that Detroit may finish with more than three wins.

THE FINAL TALLY:

  1. Cardinals (4)
  2. Buccaneers (2)
  3. Steelers (2)
  4. Colts (2)
  5. Dolphins (1)
  6. Falcons (1)
  7. Panthers (1)
  8. Lions (1)

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