1. Tom Brady– It doesn’t matter how many games he plays. He could play 10 or 12 but the fact of the matter is when he’s on the field and he’s angry, he’s at his best. He’s still at the top of his game and he will be entering his age 39 season. We saw how much he still has left in him last year when he came out firing on all cylinders and he led the league last year with 36 touchdown passes, a league low of seven interceptions and a passer rating of 102.2. He will come back this season with an offensive line hopefully whipped into shape with the return of Dante Scarnecchia, the Patriots long time offensive line coach returns after hanging it up in 2013, new receivers Chris Hogan and Nate Washington and he will have his two tight end set in Rob Gronkowski and new acquired tight end Martellus Bennett and we can’t forget Julian Edelman in that mix either. I see another revenge tour from the future hall of famer in 2016 coming.
2. Aaron Rodgers– Last season, he showed he’s human after all and every quarterback truly has their go to guy. Brady has Gronk, Romo has Dez, Dalton has Green and Rodgers has Jordy Nelson who missed all of the 2015 season with a torn ACL and his impact in the Packers passing game was missed greatly. When he’s healthy, he’s a top five wide receiver and without him, Green Bay’s passing attack lacked pop, sizzle, explosiveness and lack of consistency without #87 on the field. The Packers also had issues protecting Rodgers as he was sacked 46 times in 2015. With Jordy returning, a slimmed down Eddie Lacy (who should return to form), the Packers should return to form from an offensive standpoint. Aaron Rodgers is still the best quarterback in the league and I think we’re in for a typical Rodgers season where he’s back to carving up defense on a weekly basis and leads the Packers back to another NFC North crown.
3. Cam Newton– We can’t forget the reigning MVP and don’t let the subpar performance in Super Bowl 50 fool you. Cam had a season to remember and he deserved the award last season without question and he will be back in the mix in 2016 to win it again and try to become the first back to back winner since Peyton Manning in 2008 and 2009. Kelvin Benjamin is back after missing the 2015 season with a torn ACL. With him returning, I could see Cam’s numbers going up. It truly does make a difference when your go to receiver is back on the field. With the defense losing Josh Norman to the Redskins, Cam will be asked to the play that role of Superman and carry the entire team on his shoulders which I think he’s more than capable of doing and is up for the challenge. Let’s not forget that Cam and company led the league in scoring without their best receiver.
4. J.J. Watt– The Texans made moves this off-season. They landed their guy to take the snaps under center in Brock Osweiler and after landing him, they immediately worked on adding pieces around him by adding Lamar Miller and drafting Will Fuller and Braxton Miller. All that is cool but J.J. Watt is still the man in Houston. He’s the best defensive player in the league and could go down as one of the all-time greats if he continues to play at this pace. Numbers don’t lie. Over the past four seasons, he’s totaled up 69 sacks and three defensive MVP’s in a four-year span. He’s a one man wrecking crew and when you get ready to play the Texans, he’s the first guy who will come up in discussions and game planning. The success of the Texans will depend on Watt’s dominance on defense once again.
5. Adrian Peterson– He missed a large portion of the 2014 season because of child-abuse charges. 2015, he comes back and ends up leading the league in rushing. The off the field issues were one thing and I truly hope he’s learned from that horrendous incident but on the field, he is still a superstar and the very best running back in the business today. The Vikings have added some nice pieces to the mix and that offense is still built around Adrian Peterson. He will be forced to carry the offense again while facing a loaded box weekly until Teddy Bridgewater can be more consistent as a quarterback.
Other Names: Khalil Mack, Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, Le’Veon Bell, Von Miller, Jamaal Charles, Andrew Luck, Tony Romo