The NFL pre-season officially kicked off last week with the annual hall of Fame weekend game which for the record (if anyone really cares) the Dallas Cowboys beat the Arizona Cardinals 20-18.
This season will throw up the usual surprise team, a few player arrests and a rookie who will come from nowhere to become a stud.
There is a lot of interest in last season’s bottom team the Cleveland Browns. They are usually cellar dwellers however this year with a slew of smart draft picks and trades, and their use of money ball analytics, we will see what they actually deliver. Coach Hue Jackson has NFL credibility and for once maybe they shake up the AFC North division.
This preview last season had a story about San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick staging a political protest by not standing for the national anthem pre game. 12 months on and that stance has cost him his job with his old team. He’s probably the most talented free agent on the market that no one is willing to touch based on a potential fan backlash.
There are 65 pre-season games so expect the usual injuries to starters not already wrapt up in cotton wool. Ryan Tannehill, the Miami Dolphins quarterback has gone down in training so recently retired Jay Cutler has stepped into his boots. Cutler who was about to start his TV analyst gig has decided to earn an extra $10m for a season and run the Dolphins offense. Dolphin’s fan’s should be worried about Jay rolling up and throwing his usual interceptions to their division rivals the New England Patriots.
Ahhh speaking of the Patriots – the team that never seems to be in any sort of slump in terms of expectations and the only sure thing is that they will win their division and also be a favourite to win Superbowl. How do they keep on doing this ? Comparisons to Super Rugby’s Crusaders are not uncommon.
Also they have not only bought one Boeing 767 this season to transport them around but two. Obviously they have a large entourage
This season’s fly on the wall NFL pre-season reality show, Hard Knocks, revolves around the Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s, with third year quarterback Jameis Winston likely to be the star of the show.
Just so everyone understands the Hard Knocks curse of those teams featured over the past five years
2016 LA Rams – 3rd out of 4 in their division
2015 Houston Texans – Won AFC South division – lost first round of playoffs
2014 Atlanta Falcons – 3rd out of 4 in their division
2013 Cincinnati Bengals – Won division – lost first round of playoffs
2012 Miami Dolphins – 2nd in division – did not make playoffs
So hardly a great precursor to a successful season by featuring in it
This weekend there are 16 games – anyone’s picks as hard to predict. The actual season starts on 8th September so let’s wait with baited breath for the road to Superbowl LII which will be hosted in the not so tropical Minnesota – home of the Vikings – in the albeit nice new state of the art US Bank Stadium
Early season Superbowl prediction
Oakland Raiders vs Green Bay Packers – a throwback to Superbowl II 50 years ago. The Raiders are a logical and form choice in the AFC and the Packers are always there or there about in the NFC.
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