With the NFL preseason officially underway, it’s time to take a closer look at the most intriguing storylines of the 2017 NFL season. I’m going to go by each division, but I’ll keep it as short and sweet as possible.
- The NFC East is always entertaining; no team has won back-to-back division titles since the Eagles won four straight from 2001-2004. This year, specifically, the division has some extra juice to it thanks in large part to the most important position in football.
- Cowboys’ fourth-round pick Dak Prescott took the league by storm last season; how will he respond in year two with big expectations. The Eagles are ready to make the next step in Carson Wentz’ second season, too. They provided him with a ton of necessary upgrades on offense, while the Eagles’ defense boasts one of the best defensive line units in the entire league.
- The Giants are loaded on both sides of the ball and have the most experienced quarterback in the division. They paired Brandon Marshall with Odell Beckham — that’s pretty much a reason to watch Big Blue in 2017 alone. The Redskins were a mess this offseason, firing their GM and not locking up Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal. Nonetheless, they added the exciting Terrelle Pryor and Kirk Cousins will play yet another season under the Franchise Tag before another offseason of trade rumors and contract disputes.
- I’m on record saying the NFC South could be the league’s best division in 2017. The Falcons and Panthers represented the NFC in the Super Bowl in back-to-back seasons, while each team’s quarterback has taken home the league’s MVP Trophy in both years. How will the Falcons respond to a brutally heartbreaking Super Bowl defeat? How will the Panthers rebound after adding the versatile, exciting Christian McCaffrey to their offense?
- The Buccaneers have a ton of hype surrounding them in Jameis Winston’s third season. They added DeSean Jackson and drafted OJ Howard to fill out their offense, and they’re a hot pick to make their first playoff appearance in 10 years.
- The Saints added Adrian Peterson to help them win more than seven games for the first time in four seasons. Drew Brees is only getting older, and the Saints are going overlooked in an extremely competitive division.
- The Seahawks have won the West in three of the last four seasons; will the Cardinals rebound from a disastrous 2016 season to challenge them at the top of the division? The Rams and Niners are unlikely to compete for a playoff spot, but all eyes will be on Jared Goff in his first full season as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
- Can anyone challenge the Packers for a division title? The Lions were close last season, but no one really bought into the hype; The Vikings improved their disastrous offensive line and have a ton of young talent on offense to compliment one of the better defenses in football; and the Bears finally said goodbye to Jay Cutler, starting Mike Glennon with rookie Mitch Trubisky looming from the sidelines.
- There’s nothing intriguing about the East besides the Patriots and how many games they’ll win. They’re loaded up for another Super Bowl run in Tom Brady’s 74th season as quarterback.
- The Raiders won 10+ games for the first time since 2002, and Beast Mode is back in the league. Electric.
- The Broncos defense is still nice, but who’s the quarterback of this team’s future?
- The Chargers have generated some offseason buzz going into the season with a new home in LA.
- The Chiefs are giving the all-exciting Tyreek Hill the keys to the offense, but Alex Smith now has rookie Patrick Mahomes waiting to replace him on the sidelines.
- The Steelers will (hopefully) finally have their big four on the field at the same time; Big Ben will have the luxury of not only playing behind an elite offensive line, but with Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. This offense is must-watch in 2017.
- The Bengals added Joe Mixon to a dangerous offense, the Ravens have a strong defense, and the Browns (!) are finally ready to compete in ball games.
- There’s a ton of buzz surrounding the Tennessee Titans; they’re poised to have a breakout season in Marcus Mariota’s third go.
- The Texans are loaded on defense, but who will play the most games at quarterback?
- The Jags have a stacked roster on paper, but all problems will likely surround the incompetence of Blake Bortles. Will he magically improve, or get benched?
- The Colts finally addressed their horrific defense, and it’s time for Andrew Luck to rise back up the quarterback rankings.