Well, well, well. Blow my finger off with a firework. It’s finally here.
The NFL regular season starts Thursday and for all of us who have been waiting patiently (read: desperately watching both The Bachelorette AND Bachelor Pad on Monday nights) it could not have come soon enough.
No more endless droning on about Deflategate. And for those of you who still have any doubt that cheating is indeed a recurring issue with this bunch, Check out this week’s ESPN expose for yet another take on the organization that will always have an asterisk. Unless you’re from Boston, of course!
And no more talking heads speculating 24/7 about Tim Tebow’s future in the league. I could have hit fast forward for you six months ago – spoiler alert – he doesn’t make it.
No more gib gabbing on about how JJ Watt is bummed about Jen Aniston’s wedding, how Russell Wilson has discovered magical water and rediscovered his virginity, and about how isn’t Gronk just having the “Best Year Ever:” Enough!
It’s the time where the rubber meets the road, where the drama plays out on the field. Oh, and occasionally in the locker room and on Twitter, of course.
So what are the key storylines to watch for this season? So that those of you who can’t tell a deflated football from an inflated ego can still spend your Sundays on the couch, enjoying the ride.
The Run is Fun Again
Sure, everyone wants to watch an Odell Beckham Jr. circus catch, but the running game is the one to watch this year. According to Sports Illustrated, the lack of young drop back quarterbacks, and the increase in a college-style “spread” offense (using multiple wide receivers to stretch out the defense at the line of scrimmage) is allowing running backs to become more coveted. Rookies like the Rams’ Todd Gurley and the Chargers’ Melvin Gordon should be fun to watch, as well as veterans like DeMarco Murray, who is now a key part of a new Eagles offensive scheme. Of course, all eyes will be on Adrian Peterson, who is returning from last year’s suspension ready to beat down defenders with a switch. No, not too soon on that one.
The Usual Suspects
If you are tired of the Seahawks and Patriots, join the club. However, bad news. These two are not only returning the bulk of their Super Bowl rosters, they have by all accounts gotten even better in the off season. Combine a stud tight end – Jimmy Graham – with even more bandwagon “12s” and you may have an NFC champ repeat. Whip up any kind of cheating you can think of with a pissed off Tom Brady and a consistently shitty division, and the Pats could have a ring for every finger. Gah. It makes me almost want to turn off the TV. Emphasis on the almost.
Young Gun QBs
Back in the day, rookie quarterbacks had a few years to sit behind a more experienced veteran, learning the ways of the NFL, taking some junk snaps here and there. Aaron Rodgers comes to mind as one of those beneficiaries from his years under Brett Favre. But now, rookies are expected to contribute immediately. It sure is fun to watch as they sink or swim and can get declared “the biggest draft bust since Ryan Leaf” almost right into the season. Keep a close eye on two Heisman winners (and, fun fact – one exonerated thief and rapist!) -Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston and Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota, your highest draft picks, to see how they work under pressure.
My top sleeper teams this year are the Cardinals and Raiders. Yes, you read that right. Raiders. I really think this team has the potential to be, well…not so bad. Maybe even a wild card playoff shot is in their future. I like their young offense and I have been singing the praises of a certain Jack Del Rio for years.
As far as the Cardinals, I went out on a limb last year and predicted big things for Bruce Arians and his Kangol band of nice-guy veterans. However, the injury bug hit em hard and they fell apart at the end. This year, things will be different. Again, don’t’ know if they can topple the mighty Seahawks, but a wild card berth is not out of the question, and there is a lot of playoff experience on this team.
Fantasy Football 101
If you haven’t signed up yet, you have one more day. Or, of course, if you have the dough and the desire, head on over to some of the weekly fantasy sites and play to your heart’s content. “It’s not gambling if there’s skill involved!”
Last Minute Fantasy Football Names
Still need a great name? Try these on for size (NSFW BTW!!) –
Dez’d and Confused
Gronk If You’re Horny
A Boy Named Suh
50 Shades of Clay
Upper Eric Decker
And with that…let it begin. Enjoy!