The 2018 NFL season is finally here and kicks off tomorrow as Super Bowl Champs Philadelphia Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football.
Football is back! The wait is over. We survived the dreaded summer months, its Week 1 and every team gets a fresh start. Every team starts off with the same goal and that’s to reach the Super Bowl in February. There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the NFL over the past few months but once we go in between the lines, this should be an exciting year. With Opening Kickoff less than twenty-four hours away, here are just a few stories that I’m looking forward to hearing about as the 2018 season unfolds.
We all know Tom Brady is one of, if not the greatest quarterback to play the game. Many may argue, but in my opinion, he is the second coming of Joe Montana, and at this point in his career he has already surpassed him. Brady, 41, is heading into his 19th season with the New England Patriots and seems to get better as he ages. It seems that the only constant the Patriots has these days is the consistency of Brady. No matter who lines up on the field with this guy he still manages to compete at a high level. His numbers never lie, and come January, the Patriots almost always seem to be in position to make yet another Super Bowl run. He’s only one of two players in NFL history to win five Super Bowls. Think he’s got enough left in the tank for number six?
Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns by far has the talent and skillset to be a Top 10 receiver, but it’s his off the field issues that always restrict his time on the field. If you ask me, it seems as if he spent more time serving suspensions over the past few seasons then he did playing. However, despite not being on the field (or with the team), he still managed to stay conditioned and in playing shape. Everyone loves a comeback story, and the city of Cleveland definitely needs a star to lean on since the departure of LeBron James. Gordon is a tremendous pass catcher and it would be nice for him to have a great year and showcase his extraordinary skillset as he once did before.
New York Giants
First and foremost, I’m a Giants fan so I’ll try to keep my bias to a minimum on this one. On paper, the Giants have the weapons to lead a high power offense this year. We all know having a ton of weapons on offense doesn’t guarantee wins, but I’m excited to see what’s in store. The Front Office finally parted ways with Ben McAdoo, which was long overdue. They filled a huge void at running back by drafting Saquon Barkley out of Penn State with the 2nd Pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. The Giants still have issues to fix with the Offensive line, however, having a talent like Barkley should make up the difference. Giants fans should see a vast improvement in the running game; which should give quarterback Eli Manning more time to get the ball to playmakers like Odell Beckham Jr. and second year tight end Evan Engram.
Good news for all the cheeseheads out there, Aaron Rodgers is back. It will be interesting to see how Rodgers bounces back from a shoulder injury that cost him to miss a significant amount of games last season. Rodgers is a fierce competitor and I can’t wait to see what kind of numbers he puts up this season. Let’s not forget the Packers are still operating under head coach Mike McCarthy, which is always a plus. They inherited a new weapon from the Seattle Seahawks in tight end Jimmy Graham, and have high expectations receiver Devonte Adams. I’m positive Rodgers will be playing with a chip on his shoulder so no reason why I don’t foresee Rodgers and Graham establishing a Brady-Gronk like connection.
Speaking of Seattle, the Legion of Boom is more now like the Legion of Whom. What was once the most feared defense in the NFL is no more. Over the past few seasons what the LOB was gradually dismantled by the Seahawks Front Office. Lockdown corner Richard Sherman is now in The Bay Area with San Francisco, and after nine seasons and a Super Bowl victory, hard-hitting strong safety Kam Chancellor announced his retirement this past offseason. With two key teammates gone, you have to wonder what’s next for All-Pro safety Earl Thomas. I recently read that there are trade talks, but one thing is for certain, the LOB era in Seattle has officially gone BOOM.
Andrew Luck hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2016 which may be a concern to the Colts fans. Similar to the sympathy I have for Josh Gordon lies the same with Luck. Drafted No.1 overall by the Indianapolis Colts back in the 2012 NFL Draft; the Colts had high expectations for Luck, and was brought in pick up where Peyton Manning left off. Luck has shown signs of greatness but has been plagued with injuries. For guys like this, you just want to see them overcome setbacks and get back to competing at a high level. Keep your eyes open though, if he remains healthy, he could surprise us all.
Alex Smith & Adrian Peterson
The Washington Redskins may have lost quarterback Kirk Cousins to the Minnesota Vikings, but they look to rebrand themselves with the additions of veterans Alex Smith and Adrian Peterson. Still to this day, I don’t know how the San Francisco 49ers managed to let Alex Smith go. In my opinion, he would’ve been a great backup (even after losing the starting job to Colin Kaepernick). Nonetheless, Smith ended up in Kansas City and probably had the best year of his career; now he’s in Washington? Adrian Peterson is slowly becoming the Tiger Woods of football, but I think he still has some juice left in the tank. He may not have the ability to be a workhorse like he once was, but I know most teams would love having AP as an option when it comes to short yardage and goal line situations. Curious to see how these two vets carve out roles on their new team.