It’s September 6, 2018 and you might’ve woke up thinking “It’s Thursday; just another obstacle to navigate through until the weekend”, but you’re wrong, dead wrong! Today marks the end of having to pretend to care about baseball’s dreadful regular season because the NFL season officially begins tonight at 8:20pm ET when the defending Super Bowl Champs, Philadelphia Eagles host the visiting Atlanta Falcons on NBC. With this in mind, here are the top five questions we have here at Nerd Jock Blog heading into the 2018 NFL season.
1. Can the Eagles defend their title?
The Eagles had a season to remember in 2017 that resulted in the Cinderella story of Nick Foles hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and being named MVP. That being said, this pre-season Nick Foles has showed signs of reverting back to the journeyman we all know and his been anything, but impressive. Carson Wentz is still rehabbing from a gruesome knee injury and hasn’t seen any on field game action. History tells us that it is very difficult for a team to make it back to the playoffs, forget the Super Bowl.
Our Prediction: Nope. We like The Los Angeles Rams and their all-around young roster (and coach) to make the Super Bowl out of the NFC this year.
2. Are the Cleveland Browns a playoff contender?
I think it’s safe to say there’s never been this much buzz and anticipation around a team that went 0-16. There is genuine hype around this team and HBO’s Hard Knocks clearly has something to do with that. The last time the Browns won a regular season game was Dec. 13, 2015. The addition of a proven veteran quarterback, Tyrod Taylor and Jarvis “Juice” Landry seem to very promising for an offense that ranked 24th last season. Oh yeah, they also drafted a quarterback, Baker Mayfield with the #1 overall pick. Baker’s hoping he has better luck than the last three quaterbacks the team has taken in the first round. Baker is the fourth quarterback taken by the Browns since 2007. Those QB’s are Brady Quinn (2007), Brandon Weeden (2012) and Johnny Manziel (2014).
Our Prediction: Cleveland is Believeland; Browns will go 10-6 in 2018.
3. Is Andrew Luck back, for real this time?
It’s been well documented how poorly the Indianapolis Colts have performed without Andrew Luck. The team simply struggles to put up points and move the chains when he is absent. The Colts have added several linemen and have signed TE Eric Ebron this offseason to help the 28 year old veteran. Is doesn’t take much analysis to realize the Colts are dreadful when Luck isn’t healthy. If Frank Reich and his new coaching staff can change the Colts to a style that led to an Eagles title in 2017 Andrew Luck and the Colts might be a dark horse this season.
Our Prediction: Yes?*
4. Do the Patriots and Tom Brady have enough left in the tank to make another title run?
There is absolutely no doubt that the Patriots and Brady will be contending again. They are in possibly the weakest division in football, AFC East and have the greatest quarterback of all time. The rest of the AFC East went for a combined record of 20-28 in 2017. Yes, Brady’s not getting any younger at age 41, but he has showed absolutely no signs on father time sitting him down and having a heart to heart discussion. There is some concern that the Patriots haven’t cultivated enough talent around QB12 for them to make another title run, but when has that ever mattered? Tom Brady has led this team to eight AFC titles and has won five Super Bowls. Not a bad track record for being an NFL starter for seventeen seasons.
Our Prediction: Abso-freakin’-lutely
5. Will Le’Veon Bell play this season in a Pittsburgh Steelers Uniform?
During the offseason the Steelers placed the dreaded, (by highly valued free agents) franchise tag on the superstar running back. If you’re unaware of what the franchise tag is it is simply a designation a team may apply to a player who is set to become an unrestricted free agent. The franchise tag prohibits that team from signing with another team and in turn the player’s salary is guaranteed. The franchise tag can have several designations such as “exclusive” or “non-exclusive”. Essentially the tag is used to keep talent and underpay superstars. The Indianapolis famously franchised tagged their punter, Pat McAfee in the 2013 offseason. If you care to learn more about the intricacies of the franchise tag I recommend putting on your attorney suit and doing a minimum of an hour of Binging. That’s right, BING Bing is better than Google #shotsfired.
The Steelers obviously want to control how much they’re spending on Le’Veon and that understandable. They have a highly paid QB in Roethlisberger and want to be able to afford lots of weapons for the aging six time pro-bowler. That being said, Le’Veon is only 26 and a certified all around generational talent out of the backfield. If they are unwilling to pay him, someone will eventually hand over the money to number 26.
Our Prediction: Le’Veon will be playing in the black and yellow sometime this season prior to week six. Time will tell if he gets a new deal or agrees to sign the franchise tender. If he signs the franchise tag contract look for Bell to be on the market next offseason and take his talents elsewhere and help put tooshes in cushions.
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by: Dennis Burkett
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