An NFL 2017 Season Preview

      The NFL season is finally upon us! Week 1 is officially in the books. The first games were Sept. 7 and 10, and we were able to get first looks at our favorite teams. For some, it was the cause of a renewed excitement and optimism, while for others it was the depressing realization that their team might actually not be that good. Week 1 losers should remain hopeful though. First week results usually mean very little in the long run of the season, and there are many opportunities for a team to win and possibly get to the playoffs (unless you’re a Jets/Browns fan). So, let’s dive into the upcoming season and some of its major story lines.

      Coming into Week 1, the reigning champions, the New England Patriots, were the clear-cut favorites to win the Super Bowl again; some even speculated they might have a perfect record. Those dreams came crashing down faster than New England’s secondary, as the Kansas City Chiefs put up 45 points on the Patriots in their home stadium. With Tom Brady and the reigning champs coming back down to Earth, the league looks wide open. Many teams have the talent and potential to challenge for a Super Bowl.

      The Raiders, under the leadership of third-year star David Carr and the resurgence of Beast Mode (Marshawn Lynch), are stocked with offensive fire power, and many would like them to win the AFC West and make a run to win the conference. But they will have to contend with not only the Patriots, but also the re-loaded Steelers. Receiver Martavis Bryant returns to Pittsburgh’s already loaded offense this season and the Steelers are looking to make a run as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is only getting older. Other true contenders in the AFC are the Chiefs, Ravens, and Titans, each with a balance of offensive firepower and defensive stability.

      In the NFC, the Packers, Seahawks, Falcons, and (even though it’s painful to say) the Cowboys are all favorited to win their respective divisions. The Packers will face a tough test as the Vikings showed a lot of promise in their Week 1 victory over the Saints, but it is still probable that the Packers win the North behind Aaron Rodgers’ arm. Despite their Week 1 loss, the Seahawks’ defense should still be able to lift them to the playoffs and dominate the NFC North. The Falcons looked shaky against the Bears, as they failed to torch a depleted defense. It is very possible that the Panthers return to playoff form and take down their division rivals.  As for the Cowboys, now that Ezekiel Elliot’s suspension may not take effect this season, the running game will be formidable and will set up Dak Prescott for success. But their defense is suspect at best, and their shutdown of the Giants shows more about New York’s offense without Odell Beckham than it does Dallas’s defense. I think the Eagles should be the favorites of the division. Now hear me out, I know that I may be biased, but the Eagles’ pass rush is one of the best in the league, they have a young, exciting quarterback who finally has offensive weapons, and their defense has an uncanny ability to create turnovers. The Eagles have a real shot at taking down the Cowboys weak secondary and the Giants just don’t seem very scary this season as their offensive line is highly suspect. And who knows…this might just be the season the Eagles actually do it, or they could crush our dreams like every other year. I’m pretty sure one of those two things will happen.

      Good luck to all in their fantasy football leagues, and always remember true fans don’t start players from rival teams. And of course, go Eagles!

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