Are you ready for some football? For a lot of NFL fans, including me, this is an easy question to answer, “yes.”
After going through a tough offseason that involved the shocking story of Aaron Hernandez, the continuing talks of concussions in the game, and the injury filled preseason, the 2013 NFL season is finally here and what a relief this is for both the league and it’s fans.
Every NFL season tends to not only create it’s own headlines and drama, it tends to produce several teams that have surprisingly good seasons and other teams that can be relied on to make some noise throughout the season and become one of the storylines of the season. We saw some teams last season that not only had surprising seasons and made the playoffs, they ended up being one of the biggest takeaways of the whole season. The Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins, and the Seattle Seahawks were just some of the teams that made noise last season and I expect several different teams to do the same this season.
I’m about to tell you which five teams I believe will not only improve from last season and be better, they’ll make some noise throughout the season and could become teams to keep an eye on this season. Now without further introduction, here are my top five NFL teams to keep an eye on this season.
New Orleans Saints: The Saints had a lot of things to deal with last season with the aftermath of the so-called “bounty gate” and having to play without thier head coach Sean Payton for the whole season. Although the Saints struggled and finished 7-9 last season, they played hard and were trying to salvage the season and QB Drew Brees had another great year, proving that he could be one of the best QB’s in the league. I believe that with Payton back as head coach and the team moving on from what happened last season, the Saints will be a much better team and could become super bowl contenders again real soon. The Saints offense will continue to score lots of points and remain tough to stop and Brees will have another big year while their defense will be alittle more better and consistent. I think that the Saints could not only become a pretty good team, they could finsh well above .500 and challenge the Atlanta Falcons for the NFC South division. The Saints may not be one of the best teams in the NFC right now, but they can become an underdog and challege some of the conference’s top teams and that’s why I say look out for the Saints this season.
Philadelphia Eagles: Eagles Fans haven’t had many things to be happy about for the last couple of seasons. In 2011, the Eagles went crazy in the lockout shorted free agency and were surpurpose to be very good, but instead, they had a disapponting season and didn’t even finish .500. Then last season, the Eagles weren’t able to do much better and they again didn’t finish .500. Earlier this year, The Eagles hired former Oregon head coach and offensive genius Chip Kelly as their guy and one of the biggest questions going into the 2013 season has been how well will Kelly’s offensive system work in the NFL. The system worked really well at Oregon and it was exciting to watch so it’s going to be interesing to see if it will work at the professional level. The team does have some of the right players for it like QB Michael Vick and WR Desean Jackson and both of them can make explosive plays. If Kelly’s system can work and have some success and if Vick can have a bounce back season and play like he did in 2010, when he was great, the Eagles offense could be very good and tough for several teams to stop it. The NFC east is wide open right now and if the Eagles can get things together, better than they have for the last couple of seasons, they’ll have a chance to win the division and fly their way in into the playoffs.
Detroit Lions: About ten years ago, the Lions were probably one of the worst NFL teams and was the butt of everyone’s jokes. Now, a decade later, the Lions have become a quality team, with some amazing players on it. How many Lions fans saw this coming back in 03? Ever since the Lions brought in Jim Schwartz as head coach a few years ago, the team have made sufficient progress, including a playoff appearance in 012, and they’ve been able to produce a few star players in QB Matthew Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson. Last season was suppose to be the year that the Lions took the next step and become serious NFC contenders but instead, they struggled and finished 4-12. Despite their disappointing season last year, there were a few bright spots. Stafford continued to prove that he is capable of being an excellent QB and Johnson broke an NFL record for most receiving yards in a season and that accomplishment elevated him to being one of the best WR’s in the game. I believe that the Lions will be better this year and I expect both their offense and defense to improve as well. The Lions offense should be in great shape and I believe that not only both Stafford and Johnson will have great seasons, I think that RB Reggie Bush will make a big impact on the offense and become another explosive and relliable playmaker for the team. I also think that the Lions defense, which was inconsistent last season, will be better and more productive and DT Ndamukong Suh will have a bounce back season and be as dominate as he was in 011. If the Lions can contiue to play good offense and be able to have a soild, consistent defense, they can be a quality team in the NFC and challenge Green Bay for the NFC North division tittle. This might be the year where we hear the roar of the lion.
Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs probably had one of their worst seasons in franchise history last year, where not only they went 2-14 for the season, they had to deal with the Jovnn Belcher incident, in which he killed his girlfriend and then commited suicide in the parking lot of the team’s facility. Nothing went right for the Chiefs last season, it was a total mess, but despite that, they continued to play hard and didn’t give up and that’s something we should give them a lot of credit for. The Chiefs had an active offseason in which they not only hired former Eagles coach Andy Reid as their man, they aquired QB Alex Smith from the 49ers. Reid is definitely an experience coach, who knows how to win, and I believe that he can turn things around in Kansas City fast and Smith is probably one of the best QB’s the team have had in awhile. Based on what they did in the offseason, the Chiefs already look like a better team and it seems like they’re ready to put last season behind them. I believe that the Chiefs can be a better team. We all know that they will play hard and can play through adversity, it’s just the matter of can they put all of the peices together on both offensively and defensively? I think that Smith will be a big help for the Chiefs offense and if he can play like he did with the 49ers for the last couple of seasons, the whole team will benefit from it and be better than last season. If the team can get things together and continue to improve and if Smith can play up to his potential, this team can make alittle bit of noise this season and finish around .500 and for the Chiefs. That would be a great season!
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals have been under the rader for the last couple of seasons and although they weren’t being talked about much during that time, they’ve been able to have some success by making the playoffs for the past two seasons. The Bengals may not be the best team in the AFC, but they could be the second best team in the AFC North, only behind the defending super bowl champions Baltimore Ravens. The team is talented and they do have a quality QB in Andy Dalton and even though they weren’t the most active team in the offseason, they were able to get former Steelers defensive player James Harrision and he could make an big impact on their defense. I believe that the Bengals will not only have another good season, they could be better than last year, which gives them a chance to win their division. If you look at the division, they are some reasons why the Bengals could win it this season. First reason, the Pittsburgh Steelers are alittle older and we don’t know what to expect from them this season, they could either be pretty good or just average. Second reason, The Ravens may well be the defending champs and will be good this season but they lost a lot of their star defensive players like Ray Lewis, who retired after the team won the super bowl, and Ed Reed, who went to the Houston Texans, and I don’t know if their defense can overcome all of those loses. The third reason, even though the Cleveland Browns are getting better and could be an average team this season, their still finding their way and are waiting to see if starting QB Brandon Weeden can improve. There are plenty of reasons to like the Bengals this season and if Dalton can continue to play well and the defense can get alittle more better and more consistent, they will not only make the playoffs, they’ll win the division and become a treat to win the AFC.