Navigating the NFL – Big Season Storylines

Hello, and welcome to my new column about the goings on in the National Football League. I love watching and playing football, but I’ve always been terrible at predicting football games. In the last 5 years, I’ve picked the correct Superbowl Champion zero times. There are literally babies who have more insight into picking winning teams than I do, but I thought that this season I’d try predicting a few things for the season as a whole. If you are a fan keep in mind that I’m writing this before the week three games (excepting Thursday Night Football).

Firstly, I think the Los Angeles Rams are going to have a very good season. Their offense has been very good. I don’t think anyone expected this kind of performance out of Jared Goff, Sammy Watkins is playing at a new level this year, and Todd Gurley has been working miracles out of the backfield. To back that all up their defense has also been solid, racking up ten sacks over three games. In comparison, Jared Goff has only been sacked three times. The NFC West, home also to the Cardinals, Seahawks and 49ers, has been one of the better divisions in the last few seasons, but the Rams may contend for the division title this year.

Another storyline worth following is the Minnesota Vikings and the future of quarterback Sam Bradford. Bradford was brought in a few days before the opening game last season to replace the injured Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater destroyed much of his knee in a non-contact injury during preseason practices and has been unable to perform since then. Last season the Vikings had a terrific start, winning six of their first eight games, but then fell apart and lost 6 games to finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs. Part of this was due to the loss of star running back Adrian Peterson to injury. Bradford came out of the gate this season looking good, but was injured early in their second game. Injuries have plagued Bradford since he entered the league, so if this one persists his time in Minnesota may come to an end.

There are also many questions revolving around the Atlanta Falcons this season. Unless you live under a sport-related rock you probably heard that the Falcons blew the largest lead ever in a Superbowl and lost to the New England Patriots last February. Despite the crushing loss the Falcons didn’t change much coming into this season. Their offense still has almost all of the key pieces that won quarterback Matt Ryan the league MVP trophy last year, and their young and speedy defense is a little more experienced than last season. I expect the Falcons to continue their winning ways from last season and handily win the NFC South, also home to the Panthers, Saints and Buccaneers, this year.

Moving to the AFC there is going to be intense competition this year in the AFC West. The Chiefs, Broncos and Raiders all won their first two games and look ready to battle with the best. The Chargers, who made the move this off-season to Los Angeles from San Diego, also have a statement to make in their new home. The Broncos have a powerful defense, and an offense only a few years removed from Peyton Manning’s Superbowl victory. If Trevor Siemian can keep evolving his game under center they will likely keep winning. The Kansas City Chiefs have a powerful rookie running back in Kareem Hunt, who along with veteran quarterback Alex Smith might prove too much for opposing defenses. Finally, the Raiders have young gunslinger Derek Carr under center, and they’ve brought Marshawn Lynch out of retirement to be the power running back they need. The AFC West will probably be the AFC Best this season, so stay tuned for an intense divisional fight.

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