The first week of the NFL season begins this week with plenty of new storylines for fans to catch up on after a wild offseason.
These narratives, and plenty more, will be interesting to follow as America’s most watched sport kicks off their 103rd season. Here’s a breakdown of what to watch from all the teams in the NFL to keep you up to date.
After losing to the Rams in the Wild Card, the Cardinals will be pushing for another strong season this year. This might be hampered by losing star receiver Deandre Hopkins for six games to a PED suspension to start the season. If they can avoid a late season skid like last year, they will look to be a playoff team.
The good news for the Falcons is TE Kyle Pitts, last years’ rookie revelation. His Pro-Bowl season last year was one of the best ever for a rookie TE and he will look to build on that and become one of the league’s best. The bad news? Pretty much everything else. Downgrading from franchise QB Derek Ryan and the season-long suspension of Calvin Ridley has the Falcons poised for a rebuilding effort.
The Ravens had a ton of injuries last year, and despite that almost made the playoffs anyway. This year, with a healthier season, the return of invaluable offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, an improved offensive line, a likely breakout of Linebacker Odafe Oweh, and a contract year for Lamar Jackson, the Ravens look to be one of the better teams in the NFL.
The Bills Mafia bandwagon is going to be a full one this year. The Bills are the early Super Bowl favourites and have the best Vegas odds to do so. Corner Tre’Davious White will miss the first few games of the season, but it might not matter; behind the strength of QB Josh Allen, this is the best Bills team we have seen in a long time.
Carolina hopes they have found their next elite QB since Cam Newton in acquiring former first-overall pick Baker Mayfield. We will see. If RB Christian McCaffery can stay healthy, Carolina may end up being more, but for right now they are staring down a bottom feeder season.
QB Justin Fields’ strong preseason and his chemistry with third-year TE Cole Kmet are promising for Chicago’s offence. Besides WR Darnell Mooney, unfortunately the rest of Fields’ supporting cast looks underwhelming. It’s probably going to be a tough season in Chicago.
The Bengals are hoping to build on last year’s Super Bowl appearance. Ja’Marr Chase is knocking on the door as the best WR in the NFL. Joe Burrow is still Joe Burrow. The offensive line improved modestly as well, so a top five finish is not unreasonable.
Things are grim in Cleveland. With QB Deshaun Watson suspended 11 games (not nearly enough most would argue) and their current solution being Jacoby Brissett, they will likely struggle to make the postseason.
The Cowboys have a solid core group this year. A healthy Dak Prescott will make all the difference as will RB Ezekiel Elliot and key defensive cog Micah Parsons in a successful season.
Let’s ride. It’s time for the Russel Wilson era in Denver to begin, relieving their long standing QB issues. The Broncos will be an interesting team to watch this season.
Detroit has one of the easiest schedules this year, but with Jared Goff as their QB it will be hard for them to make any real push. Another rebuilding year seems to be in the cards.
Green Bay Packers:
Though Rodgers has returned, his main target Davante Adams has not, leaving some questions. Rodgers will guarantee some success, but how much is up in the air.
RB Dameon Pierce was a force in the preseason and QB Davis Mills looked solid last season, but otherwise there is not a lot to love about this roster. A bottom five finish is likely.
The returns of healthy CB Stephon Gilmore and Linebacker Shaquille Leonard, and an improved passing game under Matt Ryan are a boon. One of the easiest schedules should also help the Colts to a top 15 record.
Jacksonville was the worst team in the NFL by a large margin and did not do a lot to improve. Unless QB Trevor Lawrence and Number one pick Travon Walker step up, not much will likely change.
Kansas City Chiefs:
KC has the hardest schedule in the league and lost WR Tyreek Hill, but they are so good it might not matter. QB Patrick Mahomes, coach Andy Reid and a strong O-line should combine for another top five finish.
Las Vegas Raiders:
With newly added top-flight WR Davante Adams, Vegas figures to have one of the best offensive groups in the league. But in a stacked AFC West, they will still have to grind for a playoff spot.
Justin Herbert can lead the offence at QB and a big investment on defence should push this team to the playoffs. Like the rest of the AFC West, it will be tough though.
There are lofty expectations for the reigning champs, and one who retained most of their core at that. QB Matthew Stafford’s elbow injury will be something to watch as their season may hinge on it.
Tyreek Hill and Jalen Waddle will give QB Tua Tagovialo some targets on offence and their defence looks solid. There is talent on this roster so let us see if they can put it together.
The Vikings were completely average last season. An expected bump on offence and some additions to the defence could push this team into the playoff picture.
New England Patriots:
The Patriots offence is in transition, but QB Mac Jones is likely to step forward after a strong rookie campaign. They have made improvements, but in a strong division it’s not hard to see the Pats missing the postseason.
New Orleans Saints:
The Saints had one of the best defences in the NFL last season, and it could stay that way despite some notable departures. Their offence should be too if QB Jameis Winston is healthy, giving them a chance in a weak division.
The Giants have the easiest schedule in the NFL, but unless QB Daniel Jones can prove that he is their guy, this season won’t be pretty.
Things are not looking great for the other NY franchise either. With a very inexperienced roster, this season may just be seeing if QB Zach Jones is up to snuff more than anything.
With QB Jalen Hurts gaining comfort, the addition of WR A.J. Brown to an already strong offence and a wholesale personnel improvement on defence, the Eagles seem ready to improve on a decent season. Throw in one of the easiest schedules and they might be a sleeper.
Though the loss of a washed-up Ben Roethlisberger might not hurt them much, their failure to upgrade their O-line will. Coach Mike Tomlin’s 15-year playoff streak looks to be coming to a close.
San Francisco 49ers:
Sophomore QB Trey Lance will be the starter for the season, but if he falters, backup Jimmy Garoppolo is still an excellent option. Coupled with a very strong defence, the 49ers will be a threat.
The Seahawks were not particularly great last season in an admittedly strong NFC West. The departure of franchise QB Wilson will do nothing to alleviate that.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Tom Brady is back which means the Buccs are right back in it. Adding Julio Jones to replace departing WR Antonio Brown should keep them firmly in contention.
The Titans have two very good players in RB Derrick Henry and Defensive Lineman Jeffery Simmons, but the losses of WRs Julio Jones and A.J. Brown will sting, especially if their QB situation does not resolve itself.
While Carson Wentz is a definite upgrade at QB, do not expect an upgrade in their record, especially as their poor defence is missing its best Defensive End Chase Young for the first few games of the season.
The NFL Regular Season kicks off on Thursday Sep. 8 in a faceoff between the Buffalo Bills and the LA Rams, meaning you can expect a lot of excitement right from the get-go.