Tonight kicks off the 2013 NFL season. For the next six months the country will resume its football fanaticism talking about Sunday’s contests, Thursday night games and fantasy lineups. With that in mind here are some of my thoughts about the upcoming season and what I expect to happen.
1. The Buccaneers are over-rated. Sure they have gotten a lot lof pub for the off-season pick-ups highlighted by Darrelle Revis. Everyone assumes he is coming back full throttle and back to form. But we have seen how quickly corners can just fade. Remember when Nnamdi Asomugha was the top corner? Now we have a player coming off a torn ACL who hasn’t played a down in the preseason. Also this team, despite its talent on the defensive side managed just 27 sacks last year (yes I know injuries). Also I have never been sold on Josh Freeman.
2. The Patriots window is closing. Tom Brady is now 36 years old. He comes into this year with his top four WR’s gone from last year and a defense that year in and year out needs to be “adjusted” but has yet to be. Oh by the way the Patriots biggest aquisition (Danny Amendola) is already battling a groin injury. Shocker. Also isn’t it amazing that since the Tape Gate the Patriots haven’t won a championship? Could this be the final year of the Patriots ways?
3. Falcons break through. The Falcons offense is dynamic. The addition of Steven Jackson will be huge for this team and not just what he puts into the stat column. After spending his entire career in St. Louis in a football black hole he arrives in Atlanta chasing a title. While he is nearing the end of his career, what he has lost is made up for in his determination. That is what will be beneficial for the Falcons. Jackson will not quit and will give his all. He will push his teammates and I expect a big year from the Falcons.
4. Speaking of Jackson’s former team, the St. Louis Rams are taking some risk this season with a inexperienced running back and wide receiver corp. While the inexperience may be some cause for worry this group still has more talent than recent years. They finally have explosive players. I do wonder about the consistency of the running backs however I think the offensive line will be key here. How they do will determine how the running backs and Rams offense goes.
5. The Jets are on the clock. Has there ever been a worse quarterback depth chart in recent years? Mark Sanchez looked capable in his first three years as a QB that could just run the offense and keep his team in it. They had success with the ground game and strong defense. But of course they wanted more. They wanted to develop him into a game changer, added weapons and asked him to expand his game. Now…well Sanchez is arguably the worst starting QB in the league. Except that the Jets wasted an early pick on Geno Smith who is starting this week and will give Sanchez a run for his money for that title.
6. Regression in the West. Last season Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick were the sensation. A couple of thoughts on each them. While they are both noted runners they are extremely different. Wilson is a scrambler. He breaks plays down and adjusts from there. He is more of an open field runner. Now sidenote this also plays into his success. Wilson through for more touchdowns than any quarterback had ever done with that few of yards. Do not expect the same production this year. His scrambles are often because he has trouble reading defenses. Defense now have had a full year. As far Kaepernick his running style is more north-south off the read option or breaking the pocket. Just look at the Green Bay game. I could not understand why the Packers kept rushing upfield against him. To contain him all you have to do is play sideline to sideline. Stretch him out. His runs are often read and go straight, not much scrambling.
7. The Miami Dolphins are the most overrated team in the NFL. Yes they drew all kinds of headlines for the pickups this past offseason. People say Tannehill showed great promise. Etc. Well Tannehill still threw 12 TDs and 13 INT last year. And their additions…kind of eerily similar to another Southern Florida team’s shopping spree and hype (Marlins) don’t you think?
8. The Detroit Lions will threaten the scoring record. Everyone knows the Lions have always put an emphasis on offense. Don’t forget they once spent three consecutive first-round picks on WR’s. Now luckily one of those was Calvin Johnson. The Lions were unlucky last year in that they were tackled inside the five-yard line 23 times last year. Stats tend to balance out. So expect them to get in more this year. By the way they added Reggie Bush at RB who seems like the perfect fit to complete this Madden type offense
My Division Winners
AFC East- New England (One last year)
AFC North- Cincinnati (Dalton and Marvin Lewis have earned their stripes)
AFC South- Houston (Despite injury concerns for Foster not much else in competition)
AFC West- Denver (It’s Peyton’s last go-around)
NFC East- Dallas (Yes the Cowboys put it together this year)
NFC North- Green Bay (Aaron Rodgers finally has some capable RB’s)
NFC South- Atlanta (Too much offensive firepower)
NFC West- San Francisco (I expect a dropoff in areas but Harbaugh is a game changing coach)