The official start of the NFL season is right around the corner with preseason football kicking off tonight. That means, it’s the perfect opportunity to preview the season. With many old faces in new places, each division has experienced a shake up.
In the AFC, the Patriots will continue to be a major playoff contender, despite losing their veteran quarterback Tom Brady for the first four games of the season. Meanwhile, the NFC favorite is much harder to choose. Will Cam Newton and the Panthers repeat as NFC champions? Or will Russell Wilson and the “Legion of Boom” arrive at the Super Bowl for their third time in four seasons? Regardless, there are a handful of teams who made a considerable amount of moves this offseason with the hopes of being the last team standing.
Here are 5 NFL hot takes to whet your NFL appetite.
The Good: The Jacksonville Jaguars had an unbelievable draft, adding youth and speed to their roster. With their first round pick, the team chose Jalen Ramsey from Florida State, a talented corner who was projected to go higher than the fifth pick. Quarterback Blake Bortles and his mom are both looking forward to the new look of the Jaguars franchise, especially the new additions on defense, a line that was sub-par this time last year. Adding linebacker Myles Jack, former Giants DB Prince Amukamara, and lineman Malik Jackson to a Dante Fowler Jr.,-led d-line makes for a quick turnaround from a painful 5-11 season in 2015. The Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts have had a stronghold in the AFC South thus far, but the Jaguars could give each team a run for their money.
The Bad: The San Francisco 49ers are a hot mess, in simple terms. They essentially are in a major rebuilding stage with newly hired head coach Chip Kelly, who may be the most hated man in Philadelphia after the stunts he pulled last season with the Eagles. Things have gotten so bad that it’s not even a guarantee that Colin Kaepernick will be the starting quarterback once the season starts. Since Jim Harbaugh’s departure for Michigan, the team hasn’t looked the same and the fans are suffering more than they have in the past. Signing DeForest Buckner, a product of Kelly’s coaching in Oregon, was the best move they’ve made all offseason, but there are still questions that need answers. Who will the starter be, Kaep or backup Blaine Gabbert? Can Chip Kelly redeem himself after tarnishing his reputation as an NFL coach? And just how low in the NFC West will they fall?
The Question Mark: What’s next for the Denver Broncos? They no longer have quarterbacks Peyton Manning nor Brock Osweiler, the man who held his own while Manning was injured this past year. So what is the question mark? Mark Sanchez, of course. I don’t think anyone would’ve predicted this move, and with training camp underway, the 8-year vet and Trevor Siemian, in his second season, have been labeled “co-starters”. This has to make fans uneasy. Sanchez is known for his time with the Jets and that infamous butt fumble against New England. His current QB rating sits at 80.7, which is significantly better than the 66.9 that he had in 2012 with the Jets. But will it be enough to return the Broncos to the Super Bowl?
The brighter side of the team would be the re-signing of Super Bowl MVP Von Miller after a long contract battle in the offseason. Miller was shown the money he desired in a 6-year, $114.5 million deal, making him the highest paid defensive player in the league. Bets are he’ll continue to be an opposing quarterback’s worst nightmare, and we can watch him take on Cam Newton once again to kick off the season on prime time Thursday Night Football.
The Dominant: I couldn’t possibly write this without giving a shoutout to my Jets for doing their thing in the draft and signing their key players. For starters (literally), Mo Wilkerson is locked into a long-term contract and our aging starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is back. All is good at Met Life Stadium…kinda. Reality is that as long as Tom Brady is in our division, we can’t expect a spot at the top of the AFC East. With that being said, the Pats will (unfortunately) remain the top team in the division, and possibly in the entire conference, even without their leader in the first four games of the year. New England will face the Cardinals, Dolphins, Texans, and Bills in that span, meaning Jimmy Garoppollo will have his work cut out for him until Brady returns.
The Comeback?: The NFC East was embarrassing to watch last season, but that somber tune can change this time around. The Philadelphia Eagles are still in their post-Chip Kelly rebuilding phase while the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants both got valuable pick-ups in the draft. The division could go to either of these teams and it will most likely come down to the health of Dallas quarterback Tony Romo and the overall health of the Giants’ offense (yes, I’m talking about you Victor Cruz).
Who’s going to the Super Bowl? It’s hard to say at this point. The preseason doesn’t mean much in this case, but with kickoff in less than month, get your Fantasy Football rosters ready!
Kayla Solomon is a new contributor to AllSportsEverything.com. She attends Temple University for nine months out of the year, but will be here in New York all summer! Follow Kayla on Twitter at@dontKAYme, Instagram at @kayla_nyree. Also, find her writing weekly on blackaphillyated.com and on her personal blog, dearfuturekay.wordpress.com.
photo via Sacbee.com