The first Sunday of the 2018 campaign is on its way. theScore's NFL staff kicks things off with playoff, Super Bowl, and awards predictions for this season.
The Patriots and Steelers remain the staples of the AFC, but theScore is all aboard the Chargers' hype train.
Not much turnover is expected on the NFC side of the bracket. However, not one editor picked the Panthers to return to the playoffs in 2018.
AFC Championship Game
|Alessandrini||Patriots vs. Chargers|
|Browne||Patriots vs. Steelers|
|Chippin||Patriots vs. Chargers|
|McClymont||Texans vs. Jaguars|
|McLaren||Jaguars vs. Texans|
|Srinivasan||Patriots vs. Jaguars|
|Woods||Steelers vs. Chargers|
Despite the poorest collection of backs and receivers Tom Brady has had to play with, the majority of the team believes the Patriots will be back in the conference title game for the eighth consecutive season.
NFC Championship Game
|Alessandrini||Saints vs. Eagles|
|Browne||Packers vs. Vikings|
|Chippin||Rams vs. Packers|
|McClymont||Rams vs. Vikings|
|McLaren||Falcons vs. 49ers|
|Srinivasan||Rams vs. Falcons|
|Woods||Saints vs. Rams|
Rams? Falcons? Saints? Vikings? It's anyone's guess who will emerge from the loaded NFC.
Super Bowl LIII
|Alessandrini||Saints def. Patriots|
|Browne||Packers def. Patriots|
|Chippin||Packers def. Patriots|
|McClymont||Vikings def. Texans|
|McLaren||Falcons def. Texans|
|Srinivasan||Falcons def. Jaguars|
|Woods||Saints def. Chargers|
The AFC was shown no love when it came to predicting the Super Bowl LIII champion. The entire staff sided with the stronger NFC conference, with the Packers and Falcons earning multiple votes.
"The two greatest quarterbacks in the game weave through their respective conferences before giving the world the most enticing and exciting Super Bowl matchup of all time," Alex Chippin predicts in a Packers-Patriots matchup.
Rookies of the Year
|Alessandrini||Saquon Barkley||Maurice Hurst|
|Browne||Michael Gallup||Darius Leonard|
|Chippin||Saquon Barkley||Roquan Smith|
|McClymont||Saquon Barkley||Derwin James|
|McLaren||Sam Darnold||Tremaine Edmunds|
|Srinivasan||Saquon Barkley||Roquan Smith|
|Woods||Sam Darnold||Derwin James|
Saquon Barkley is the popular pick to follow in the footsteps of Todd Gurley and Alvin Kamara for Rookie of the Year.
"An obvious choice, but the right one. Barkley has more talent than your average rookie, and he'll help pace the Giants' offense behind an improved blocking unit. Rushing for 1,500 yards and 10-plus touchdowns is not out of the question," Mike Alessandrini said.
Players of the Year
|Alessandrini||Aaron Rodgers||Khalil Mack|
|Browne||Antonio Brown||Myles Garrett|
|Chippin||Antonio Brown||Jalen Ramsey|
|McClymont||Antonio Brown||Xavier Rhodes|
|McLaren||David Johnson||Tyrann Mathieu|
|Srinivasan||Antonio Brown||Von Miller|
|Woods||Alvin Kamara||Joey Bosa|
What Madden cover jinx? theScore staff is putting its faith behind Antonio Brown breaking the mold and taking home his first Offensive Player of the Year award. On the defensive side of things, the list is dominated by pass-rushers.
"If the Steelers overcome the Le'Veon Bell fiasco, it'll be in large part due to Brown, who threatens to become the first 2,000-yard receiver in a single season. Everyone knows what's coming and yet Brown is simply unstoppable," Arun Srinivasan said.
Coach of the Year
Would you believe Bill Belichick hasn't won Coach of the Year since 2010? Jack Browne and Michael McClymont believe this is the year in which Belichick wins his fourth award, tying Don Shula for the most all time.
"Because he's Bill Belichick," Browne put it, simply.
The MVP conversation is again dominated by quarterbacks. David Johnson is the lone player from another position to garner a vote.
"The conditions are perfect for Johnson to put together a statistical season that leaves voters with no choice but to give him the honor despite what's likely to be a poor Cardinals record," Esten McLaren said, who sees LaDainian Tomlinson's touchdown record falling.