By: Nicholas Jacquin, Sports Writer
While the weather transitions from warm and humid to the cooler fall weather, the changes mark the beginning of the football season. Each team endured their fair share of trades and free agent acquisitions this offseason, but with preseason games wrapping up in the next week, we look forward to the season opener on September seventh.
The New England Patriots are coming off yet another Super Bowl title after defeating the Atlanta Falcons in February. They enter the season as a favorite to repeat as Super Bowl Champions but just suffered a major loss, losing veteran receiver Julian Edelman for the season with a torn ACL. However, with Tom Brady still producing as a potential MVP and a dangerous weapon in Rob Gronkowski, look for the Pats to have another strong year.
Another dangerous AFC team to keep an eye on this season is the Pittsburgh Steelers. They knocked out the AFC West Champion Kansas City Chiefs last season and have another strong team coming back for the 2017 season. Ben Roethlisberger still has his dynamic weapons of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell on offense so it could come down to another battle for the AFC Championship between them and the Patriots.
Other teams to watch in the AFC include the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs, who will have a tough battle in the AFC West this season. Recently out of retirement, Marshawn Lynch, will look to lead the young and talented Raiders to a breakout year. Kansas City suffered a tough loss to the Steelers last season in the Divisional Round but they are capable of going back to the Playoffs, despite a tough schedule this year.
The reigning NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons come into the 2017 season with a chip on their shoulder. After leading an MVP season, Matt Ryan will once again have his main weapon at receiver in Julio Jones. Their roster is loaded top to bottom but a change at Offensive Coordinator could have an impact on their chances of a big season in their brand new stadium.
While it was a disappointing end to a very successful season for the Dallas Cowboys, the 2017 campaign should be strong. They were led by their dynamic rookies a year ago in Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott and an excellent offensive line but Elliott’s off the field issues, which led to a six game suspension to start the upcoming season is a huge let down and could cost them a shot at winning the NFC East.
Lastly, it would be completely absurd to count out Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. The Pack face a tough start to the season as they take on the Seattle Seahawks at home in week one before traveling to Atlanta to take on the reigning NFC Champions. However, they should be able to take care of business in the AFC North and be another threat to win Super Bowl LII.