As we get set to kick off the 100th season of the NFL, all the teams start off with the same 0-0 record and share the same dream of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Every year, there are questions that we have to wait to have answered and they start with week one.
1. Who wants to take their shot at the Patriots?: Every year with the exception of 2008 when Tom Brady sustained a knee injury, the New England Patriots have been AFC East champions. They were one of the sure things in the NFL. The Jets, Dolphins and Bills have always been the bridesmaid but never the bride since TB 12 started his career. Recently however, there are signs that the three other AFC East teams are ready to overtake the Pats for the division title. The Jets offense has some good tools for Adam Gase to utilize. QB Sam Darnold is coming off a rookie campaign that featured 13 games and over 2800 passing yards. Of course in the high scoring NFL teams need multiple talented players. Le’Veon Bell signed a 4 year/$52.5 million deal and a holdout campaign for 2018 and will share some of the snaps with Ty Montgomery and Bilal Powell making for a pretty impressive backfield for the J-E-T-S. Offense wise, the Jets should be in the wild card hunt and maybe even give New England a run for their money.
Turning to the lone team that plays in the state of New York, the Buffalo Bills. Josh Allen is coming off a 2000 passing yard season over 12 games. Now that Allen is THE guy, it’s important for him to take advantage of the schedule. The Bills face the Jets, Giants, Bengals and Patriots who all allowed over 245 yards of passing offense a year ago, add that with the receiving core that would have been impressive 5 years ago of John Brown and Cole Beasley, 2019 may not be a playoff season for Buffalo, but it could be a building block for a talented QB in Josh Allen.
2. Super Hangover?: The loser of the super bowl hasn’t fared particularly well in the following season. Recent examples include Philadelphia showing a 6-10 record following a loss to New England in Super Bowl 39, Chicago going 7-9 after a super bowl loss to Indianapolis and the Patriots, after losing to the Giants in Super Bowl 42 lost Tom Brady to injury. Of course, New England bucked that trend after Super Bowl 52 and won the Lombardi Trophy in February. The Rams bring back most of their team that fell short to the Patriots including an offense built around Jared Goff and Todd Gurley. One player who wasn’t on the field for the big game was Cooper Kupp who tore his ACL last season. He has been recovering including featuring numbers for quickness and agility improving from a year ago and had 566 yards at the halfway point of the 2018 season. With a healthy Kupp lining up with Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks as targets for Jared Goff, don’t be surprised if the Rams play in February at Hard Rock Stadium.
3. “Tua” for one: This may be breaking news, but teams will tank for Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa. The lone question is who will sink to the bottom of the bottom. Teams like Miami, Cincinnati, and Tennessee shouldn’t have money riding on them for postseason play. Miami is showing more faith immediately with Ryan Fitzpatrick over Josh Rosen and in-fighting in the locker room. Cincinnati continues to be pedestrian record-wise featuring a 6-10 mark a year ago and have AJ Green walking around with a walking boot. Andy Dalton has been given more credit than he deserves leading the Bengals to a 19-28-1 record since the start of 2016. If the Bengals start off on the wrong foot, Andy Dalton should be viewed as a trade chip and look toward the future with three top tier QB’s (Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts and Justin Herbert) set for the 2020 draft.
In Tennessee, Marcus Mariota was thought to be in a QB competition with Ryan Tannehill. Mariota has since been named the week one starter, but there should be some apprehension for Titans fans. The former Oregon Duck, dealt with a wide array of injuries including a tear of the plantar fascia, a cracked vertebra and ending the season with a case of dead arm. He has reportedly put on an extra 5-10 pounds to help absorb some of the hits, but this is year 6 and he has yet to play a full NFL season. Mariota is in the final year of his contract and if things don’t start off well for Mike Vrabel and the Titans, look for the team to turn to a new direction.
These are just three things to watch out for during the 2019 NFL season. Anything missing? Feel free to leave a comment or send a tweet.
- John Luck (@jluck_89)