The upcoming NFL season is ripe with exciting stories and players to watch. Last year’s NFL champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, host the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday, September 6th to kick off the 2018 NFL season.
With Tom Brady returning for yet another season alongside coach Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots remain the favorite to win the Super Bowl.
Although the Patriots lack wide receiver depth after trading Brandin Cooks and losing Julian Edelman to suspension for the first four games, a healthy Rob Gronkowski is still here. Chris Hogan has also proven to be an adept option for Brady, with new signing Kenny Britt and first-round draft pick Sony Michel looking to bolster the offense. Veteran Rex Burkhead remains a solid option for short downs. As for their defense, Bill Belichick remains a genius at coaching the defensive game, specifically.
While the Patriots are the favorite to win, other up-and-coming teams are not far behind. The Los Angeles Rams saw the ample growth of QB Jared Goff and RB Todd Gurley last year, with young head coach Sean McVay showing a knack for brilliant game planning. The Green Bay Packers, with Aaron Rodgers still at the helm, are another hyped team. The signing of TE Jimmy Graham looks to supplement an offensive attack that is now missing Jordy Nelson.
Of course, the Philadelphia Eagles will look to defend their championship and remain capable of doing so. Coach Doug Pederson shows great decision-making, putting his playmakers in the position to win. With QB Carson Wentz expected to be healthy, the Eagles are very comparable in strength and depth to last year, apart from losing TE Trey Burton to free agency.
A Year for Young QBs
If you enjoy watching young QBs with high upside, the upcoming NFL season will be a treat for you. The rookie QB class alone includes a bunch of high-upside, talented rookie QBs with avenues to playing time. Jets QB Sam Darnold and Bills QB Josh Allen will very likely start by mid-season, if not by week one. They are both talented, young QBs on teams starving for a franchise QB.
Although Baker Mayfield may not start in 2018 for the Cleveland Browns, with Tyrod Taylor showing more command of the offense presently, he remains an exciting player to watch. If Taylor suffers an injury or underperforms, it will be fun to watch Mayfield throw to the likes of Josh Gordon and Jarvis Landry. There are also rumblings of the Browns considering signing WR Dez Bryant.
Ravens QB Lamar Jackson was taken in the late first round, though could very well impress more immediately than any other rookie QB. Joe Flacco remains the starter in Baltimore, though Jackson has drawn praise from the coaching staff for his talent and readiness. Jackson’s multi-dimensional game, with his running and throwing, present a threat to opposing defenses. He and these other young QBs will be worth watching in the preseason and throughout the entire NFL season.
The NFL proves year in and year out that outcomes are unpredictable. Although some teams like the Patriots dominate their division every year and are likely to do so again this year, the rest of the league is open for competition.
The NFC West is likely to be a showdown between the Rams and 49ers. If 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo continues to excel, the 49ers’ young core can prevail. The Rams’ additions of Aqib Talib, Ndamukong Suh, Brandin Cooks and Marcus Peters in the offseason makes them a clear favorite, though.
The Packers and Vikings will compete in the NFC North, as Aaron Rodgers and Kirk Cousins work with talented squads. The Packers’ additions of corners Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson should shore up their pass defense, a weak point last season.
The NFC South is likely to be competitive. The Saints, Panthers and Falcons all have teams with potential. The Eagles will likely lead the NFC East, though it will be interesting to watch the impact that Giants rookie RB Saquon Barkley has on his team. The AFC North will also be fun to watch, as the Steelers, Browns, Ravens and Bengals compete with fairly even-matched squads.
The upcoming NFL season looks to be a fun and competitive one.