I should preface that I am a huge fan of NFL football, but this blog is a top level guide that anyone can digest. We're not going to talk anything too deep, let's just get caught on up what's been happening in the NFL the past few months and give you some easy talking points for when you're hanging out watching the game with your buddies tonight. I also threw in a handful of gambling tips in there is you wanna blow your pals away with a random stat. But let's get to it, here are the top storylines for all 32 NFL teams going into the season:
COVID – how will it affect the games? Will there be any games postponed? Will the season proceed as scheduled?
Fake Crowd Noise – Teams will be permitted to pump in crowd noise, what will it be like? All teams are either very limited amounts of fans or no fans at all. How will this affect home field advantage?
Kneeling/Protests – we’re expecting most players to kneel in an effort to raise awareness for the social justice movement. Will some players not kneel and it cause a rift in the locker room? Will there be another police-led issue that could cause another potential boycott much like the NBA had?
New Playoff Format – There will only be one bye per conference along with the addition of a seventh playoff team. This is significant as now 43.75% of the teams in the league will make the playoffs, but the bye becomes much more valuable. The past seven super bowl winners have all had first round byes.
Arizona Cardinals – a very trendy pick to take a step forward they added WR DeAndre Hopkins in a fleecing of the Texans giving up RB David Johnson’s albatross of a contract and a 2nd round pick. Gambling tip: Arizona is projected to have the NFL’s easiest schedule weeks 1-5 even with a tough opener @SF.
Atlanta Falcons – Head Coach Dan Quinn is firmly on the hot seat. The Falcons started off 1-7 last year and finished 6-2 with strong road wins in New Orleans and in San Francisco. This was after DC Raheem Morris took over. Will it carry over to 2020?
Baltimore Ravens – Coming off a 14-2 season but reigning MVP Lamar Jackson is 0-2 with two stinkers in the playoffs. Can he turn it around this year? They’re big time Super Bowl contenders.
Buffalo Bills – The AFC East is wide open with Tom Brady gone. Can they take another step forward? They added WR Stefon Diggs from the Vikings to help out Josh Allen.
Carolina Panthers – They are a totally different team. Matt Rhule from Baylor is now the Head Coach and Teddy Bridgewater is the Quarterback. Christian McCaffrey figures to have a bunch of catches because this team should be behind often. Gambling tip: Don’t bet against Teddy Bridgewater. He’s 31-9 against the spread (ATS) in game’s he’s attempted at least one pass.
Chicago Bears – The team traded a 4th round pick for QB Nick Foles in the off-season but 4th year QB Mitchell Trubisky won the job in camp. Is this the year Mitch turns it around? If he doesn’t, despite being Coach of the Year in 2018, Matt Nagy would be on the hot seat.
Cleveland Browns – Led by new Head Coach Kevin Stefanski they’ll run the ball a ton. They also invested a ton in Offensive Line in the off-season. Will Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr. have a bounceback season?
Cincinnati Bengals – They’ve got a new signal caller in #1 overall pick Joe Burrow and last year's 1st rounder Left Tackle Jonah Williams will play his first game this season, but expectations are still low. The over/under win total is set at 5.5.
Dallas Cowboys – Former Head Coach Jason Garrett is gone. Former Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy is in. Can he help this team realize their potential? QB Dak Prescott signed his franchise tender which is a one-year deal meaning he’ll be a highly coveted free agent after this season unless they Franchise him again.
Denver Broncos – EDGE rusher Von Miller hurt his ankle this week and is likely out for the year. Can 2nd year QB Drew Lock help this team take the next step? He went 4-1 as a starter and they invested in a bunch of pieces around him this off-season.
Detroit Lions – Head Coach Matt Patricia is firmly on the hot seat in Detroit. QB Matthew Stafford missed eight games last year with a back injury. At age 32 will he be able to stay healthy this year?
Green Bay Packers – Is it the beginning of the end for Aaron Rodgers? After a 13 win season, they drafted their heir apparent to Rodgers in the 1st round with QB Jordan Love. They didn’t get any other playmakers to help out Rodgers, so can they get any better with the guys they have?
Houston Texans – They extended QB Deshaun Watson with a 4-year $160M contract after trading away his best Receiver in DeAndre Hopkins. Gambling tip: In 2019 they went 5-1 in games decided by a Field Goal or less. That should regress back to the mean in 2020.
Indianapolis Colts – 38-year old Philip Rivers (one L for anyone new) will be dropping back in Indy this year. How much does he have left in the tank? Gambling tip: They led at halftime in seven of their final nine games and went 2-5 in those games. That should climb closer to the mean in 2020.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Last year’s 6th round pick, QB Gardner Minshew will lead this team in 2020. He was ok in his starts last year, but the team has traded away all of their key pieces from their AFC Championship run three years ago. Head Coach Doug Marrone is firmly on the hot seat.
Kansas City Chiefs – The defending Super Bowl Champions open the season tonight vs. the Texans and Patrick Mahomes is fresh off a 10-year deal worth up to $503M. Can they repeat as Champs?
Las Vegas Raiders – This will be their first season in Vegas after a long stint in Oakland. They added some weapons for QB Derek Carr this off-season with 1st round pick WR Henry Ruggs and a 3rd round pick that has impressed in camp, Bryan Edwards.
Los Angeles Chargers – This is a team in flux. Head Coach Anthony Lynn could be on the hot seat as they’re moving into the new SoFi Stadium. They drafted QB Justin Herbert 6th overall but he needs some seasoning. They have a great defense but just found out one of their best players, S Derwin James will miss the season with a knee injury.
Los Angeles Rams – The other resident of SoFi Stadium will open it up on Sunday Night Football vs. the Cowboys. They played the NFL’s toughest schedule in 2019, can they bounce back in 2020?
Miami Dolphins – they drafted QB Tua Tagovailoa with the 5th overall pick in a year they spent associated with ‘Tank for Tua’, so last year was a success. But he still may not be fully healthy enough to play. They spent a record amount of money in Free Agency trying to build up their defense, but will that short cut work out?
Minnesota Vikings – They traded WR Stefon Diggs to Buffalo and now RB Dalvin Cook wants a ‘reasonable deal’. He’s on the final year of his rookie deal and looking to get paid. He’ll get used a lot with OC Gary Kubiak taking over with his run-heavy approach.
New England Patriots – No more Tom Brady. It’s the Cam Newton show. Can Bill Belichick prove he was the driving force between all the Patriots success?
New Orleans Saints – Can Drew Brees continue to get it done at age 41? RB Alvin Kamara is looking for a new contract and with him they may have the most complete roster in the NFL. Gambling tip: When favored at home since 2014 the Saints are 16-29 ATS.
New York Giants – They're led by new Head Coach Joe Judge who was the Patriots Receivers and Special Teams coach prior to this season. Daniel Jones enters his second season, can he cut down his turnovers? He is super talented and is only the 2nd rookie QB to ever have three games with 4 TDs. He just needs to limit his mistakes.
New York Jets – Head Coach Adam Gase is firmly on the hot seat and will need a big year from QB Sam Darnold. Only problem is he doesn’t have very good Receivers.
Philadelphia Eagles – They lost two starters along the Offensive Line in the off-season and drafted QB Jalen Hurts in the 2nd round as Carson Wentz injury insurance. Will this team be able to stay healthy through a full season?
Pittsburgh Steelers – Big Ben is back at age 38 and they’ve got a Super Bowl defense. Can they put it all together and win the AFC? They may have to go through their division foe, the Baltimore Ravens.
San Francisco 49ers – They were up 10 points in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl and lost. Will there be a Super Bowl hangover? Can QB Jimmy G stay healthy? Last year was his first time playing a full season.
Seattle Seahawks – They added Safety Jamal Adams via a trade with the Jets in the off-season, but also lost some valuable pass rush with Jadeveon Clowney’s departure. Can Russell Wilson get them over the hump without much help?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski link up in Florida and there are Super Bowl expectations. The Super Bowl will be played in Tampa, so can the Bucs be the first ever team to play a home game in 'the big game'? Can Brady also have success and show he was the main reason for the Patriots success and not Bill Belichick?
Tennessee Titans – This team is running it back from last year’s remarkable playoff run to the AFC Championship game. Can Ryan Tannehill prove last year wasn’t a fluke? They signed him to a 3-year $90M deal in the off-season so the front office clearly thinks so. RB Derrick Henry is back after leading the league in rushing. Gambling tip: They are projected to have the 2nd easiest schedule in 2020.
Washington Football Team – What’s the new team name going to be? Seriously. But on the field, Dwayne Haskins was dealt a pretty bad hand his rookie year with Head Coach Jay Gruden not wanting him and then getting fired midway through the season. Can new Head Coach Ron Rivera, who has been diagnosed with a form of skin cancer get them through the season and on the right track?
Thanks for reading and enjoy the Week 1 slate!