The NFL will announce its award winners for the 2015 regular season on Saturday night during a televised award ceremony (9 p.m. ET/PT, CBS). FOX Sports Senior NFL Writer Alex Marvez, who is one of the 50 Associated Press voters, makes his prediction for who will capture the main honors.
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Most Valuable Player: Carolina quarterback Cam Newton
Just like Peyton Manning two years ago, Newton won’t be in attendance to collect this award personally. He does have a good excuse — Newton will be getting ready to start in Super Bowl 50. The Panthers wouldn’t be here without Newton, who compiled 45 passing and rushing touchdowns during the season while leading Carolina to a 15-1 record.
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Coach of the Year: Carolina’s Ron Rivera
Rivera inherited a Panthers squad that finished with the NFL’s worst record (2-14) in 2010. Five years later, Carolina became only the sixth team in NFL history to finish with a 15-1 record en route to reaching the Super Bowl. Rivera has grown as a head coach after two bumpy seasons and done a great job assembling a staff to develop young talent like Cam Newton and Kawann Short.
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Comeback Player of the Year: Kansas City safety Eric Berry
Berry was diagnosed with cancer (Hodgkin’s lymphoma) in December 2014 after complaining of chest pain during a game against Oakland. His recovery became even more remarkable when Berry resumed playing at an All-Pro level. Berry’s return helped spur the Chiefs to win 11 consecutive games before playoff elimination.
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Offensive Player of the Year: Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer
The decline in Palmer’s play from when he suffered a finger injury in late December through the playoffs won’t hurt him since voting is conducted at the end of the regular season. Palmer enjoyed the best season of his 13-year NFL career with 4,671 passing yards, 35 touchdown passes and a league-best 8.7-yard average per completion.
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Defensive Player of the Year: Houston defensive end J.J. Watt
Even the eye-popping statistics (17.5 sacks) that Watt compiled once again don’t do justice to his impact as the NFL’s most dominant defensive lineman. Watt is set to join ex-New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor as the only three-time winners for this award.
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Offensive Rookie of the Year: St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley
Once cleared to play after a college knee injury, Gurley enjoyed the most prolific career start for a running back in NFL history by gaining 566 yards in his first four starts. Gurley reached 100 yards rushing in only one more game, but still did enough to lead all rookies with 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns.
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Defensive Rookie of the Year: Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters
Opponents quickly learned they were making a mistake by targeting Peters just because he was a rookie. Peters defensed 26 passes with eight interceptions on the NFL’s seventh-ranked defense.