NFL…Are You Ready For Some Football”
Just back from a weeks vacation in Europe, landing just in time for the start of the NFL season.
Some vacation I had. It took me 28-hours to get to Scandinavia. 27-hours to return from Finland. Cancelled flights, Immigration problems, Weather delays and all. But I am ready.
My jet-lagged look at the divisional races as the NFL kicks off its season.
AFC-EAST….New England has had all kinds of problems in training camp, injuries, retirements, constant turnover in the WR group and OL. There is no Rob Gronkowski either. But of course there is Tom Brady and Bill Beliheck. The Patriots would win because Buffalo has a kid QB, lots of new faces in the OL. Lots of changes for the Jets, from the front office to the coaching ranks. Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell will be fun to watch, but is there enough defense?. Miami might not win 2-games in the NFL version of tanking.
AFC-NORTH….Cleveland thinks it’s time to win, after horrible seasons nearly yearly since 1999. Baker Mayfield has tons of options to throw the ball too, and Myles Garrett and the defense are good. Worst to first is likely. The drama is over in Pittsburgh, and Ben Roethlisberger is back, but gone is Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Life after Joe Flacco begins in Baltimore, and that means life with Lamar Jackson at QB with his 58% completion rate. Cincinnati looks like Andy Dalton surrounded by a Big 10 college football roster.
AFC-SOUTH…This race-wide open. The retirement of QB-Andrew Luck changes everything for Indianapolis. QB-Jacoby Brissett looks solid, but he’s no Luck. Keeping QB-Marcus Mariota healthy is a key in Tennessee. Houston has torn its roster apart and lost its top running back. Pity QB-Deshaun Watson, and wonder if Bill O’Brien coulee be a coaching firing waiting. Jacksonville starts anew with QB-Nick Foles, but the roster does not look complete.
AFC-WEST….Kansas City presents it’s ‘Legion of Zoom’ offense, that QB (Mahomes), the group of WR’s (Hill) and now they add LeSean McCoy at RB. They are going to be explosive and with so may new parts on defense, could be very good. The Chargers have Philip Rivers, but without Melvin Gordon, Russell Okung and Derwin James, how do they think they can challenge. The Raiders keep changing parts of their offense, but with Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams and new RB-Josh Jacobs, they could be explosive, but do they have enough defense? Denver has QB-Joe Flacco, but a lot of young pieces at RB-WR. Do they have enough so that great defense isn’t on the field all day?
NFC-EAST…Dallas is ready, Zeke Elliott has his money, Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper will get theirs, the offensive line is rock solid, and the defense has great skill and speed. A possible NFC Championship game looks like a possibility. Who knows about the Eagles. Can Carson Wentz stay healthy, do they have enough at the skill positions, and can the defense get helahtly upfront? The Giants are caught in the twilight years of Eli Manning, and the uncertainty of rookie QB-Daniel Jones. Washington is a mess on the field and in the front office.
NFC-NORTH….The Bears have that mean-streak defense but need to develop a big time passing game around its young QB-Mitch Trubisky. The Aaron Rodgers-Matt LaFleur
era bears watching in Green Bay, but the roster looks thin. The Vikings look dangerous if they find balance run-throw for QB-Kirk Cousins. Detroit starts year two under Matt Patricia, but pales in comparison roster-wise to the other teams in a tough division.
NFC-SOUTH…New Orleans has quite a trio, in Brees-Thomas-Kumara, and now they add TE-Jared Cook, with a competitive defense. Carolina goes as far as the health of Cam Newton and Luke Kiechly allows them to go. Atlanta has Matt Ryan and a healthy defense, but you wonder about team psyche and how poorly they played a year ago. The Tampa Bay experiment, coach Bruce Ariens–Jameis Winston hears watching. This a team chemistry that could implode.
AFC-WEST…Seattle has Russell Wilson on offense, and now newly acquired Jadaveon Clowney on defense. This is not a rebuild because they look pretty good. The Rams look complete, with Jared Goff-Todd Gurley and those receivers. The addition of Eric Weddle and Clay Matthews means a huge intellectual upgrade on defense. The 49ers have 3-QBs, who can play, and now the challenge, to grow the defense, led by a very good-young front. Arizona has do-everything QB-Kyler Murray, but little else. People are mocking the ‘Pretty Boy Offense’ new coach Cliff Kingsbury has installed. This will be a long season there.