It’s just about that time of year when the NFL season comes to a close, and football fans across the country are left with just three more hours of America’s favorite pastime when Super Bowl XLIX kicks off on Feb. 1 in Glendale, Ariz. With the end of football season comes a time to reminisce on broken records, timeless moments and otherworldly performances that build the foundation of what we love about not just football, but sports as a whole.
With that said, I’ve unlocked the secrets behind time travel and fast-forwarded two weeks to bring you a 100 percent accurate rundown of everything that will transpire in the NFL up to the start of the offseason. You’ve been warned though — don’t continue reading unless you want to know the result of NFL award voting and who the eventual Super Bowl XLIX champion will be!
MVP/Defensive Player of the Year:
J.J. Watt: Since the inception of the Associated Press’ NFL MVP award in 1957, the honor has gone to 37 quarterbacks, 18 running backs, one defensive tackle, one linebacker and one kicker. Based on history, I think the award may be just a little bit biased toward the offense. Coming off a season in which he accumulated 20.5 sacks as a 3-4 defensive end (13 more than the second-highest 3-4 DE sack total) and four touchdowns (three on the offensive side of the ball), he deserves immense consideration. Though Watt faces an uphill battle with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the award, it would be quite a travesty if Watt wasn’t the first defensive player since Lawrence Taylor (1986) to take home the hardware.
Offensive Player of the Year:
Aaron Rodgers: A shoo-in for the award, Rodgers caps off a season in which he completed nearly two-thirds of his passes for 4,381 yards, 38 touchdowns and only five interceptions. The stats don’t tell the whole story for Resilient Rodgers, though, who endured a strained left calf over the course of the final two games of the regular season on his way to leading his team to the second seed in the NFC, and a conference championship appearance while playing on one leg. Rodgers also outplayed his counterparts Tom Brady, who had a horrid start to his 2014 season, and Peyton Manning, who all but fizzled out into a plume of irrelevance in the latter half of the season.
Comeback Player of the Year:
Rob Gronkowski: After a torn ACL and MCL caused the league’s best tight end to miss nine games last year, 2014 marked a return to business as usual for Gronk. The Gronk-Brady attack combined for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns this year, a stat line that blows any QB-TE combination out of the water. As esteemed rapper Lil’ Wayne would put it: “(he is) not a human being.”
Rookie of the Year:
Odell Beckham Jr.: An unfortunate injury to the New York Giants’ number-one receiving target Victor Cruz paved the way for the breakout of ex-LSU standout receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Most know him for his insane circus catch against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 12 that may just be the play of the year, but are quick to forget the amazing production to the tune of 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns that Beckham Jr. posted in Cruz’s absence. At the ripe age of 22, Odell Beckham Jr. is a star in the making, poised to wreak havoc on the rest of the NFL for the next decade and change.
Super Bowl Champion
Seattle Seahawks: This Seattle team just seems to be built for the big stage. After spending the first half of the NFC Championship game getting absolutely walloped by the Green Bay Packers, the Seahawks turned things around late in the fourth quarter and overtime en route to pulling off one of the most unlikely victories the NFL has ever seen. There’s just no other team that can match the physicality, tenacity and swagger that the Seattle Seahawks possess, and that’s why they’re on their way to becoming the first repeat champions since the 2003 and 2004 New England Patriots.