With the NFL season around the corner, our football analyst Wade Zanchetta takes a look at five storylines to watch going into 2020.
1. Brees vs. Brady
While the two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks have spent their careers in opposite conferences, Tom Brady’s move to Tampa Bay allows them to face off twice this season. Both Drew Brees and Brady are in the back end of their careers and have some NFL records to settle, like career passing touchdowns, which the pair are only separated by six entering the season.
When the two face off in week one, the race for dominance in the NFC south will officially begin. One has a new coach and system, while the other has been paired with his team the majority of their career, making this new rivalry one to watch closely.
2. Can the Chiefs remain on top?
The reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs are returning the majority of their roster after the most unique offseason in NFL history and are primed to make a second straight run to the title game. The question is will they falter like teams the two teams before them (Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams) or will a new dynasty be born with the Chiefs?
The road will not be an easy one as the reigning MVP Lamar Jackson is back with a more stacked roster than before and more of a desire to win. Kansas City will be tested early with a matchup against both the Houston Texans and the Jackson led Baltimore Ravens, but with Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid anything could happen.
3. Will the trend of second year MVP’s continue?
Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Kyler Murray?
The last two league MVP’s have both been in their sophomore seasons when they vaulted to the top of the league. Enter Kyler Murray. Fresh off of winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, with coach Kliff Kingsbury returning for his second season, and a new weapon in DeAndre Hopkins, the mixture could be just right for the young star to burst onto the scene in Arizona.
While his division is stout the Cardinals’ signal caller showed lots of growth during last season and could terrorize his opponents during his second NFL season
4. COVID-19’s Impact on the 2020 Season
In a year that has been so drastically changed by a global pandemic, fully expect the NFL season to be impacted too. Whether it is the lack of fans preventing true home field advantages, or having a practice squad player elevated the day before a game there will be many ways the league is challenged by the virus. Some things to watch will be how the NFL handles any outbreaks within teams and if fans begin to return, how they handle safety protocols in the stadiums.
NFL dark horses everyone should be watching.
General Manager Chris Ballard has built one of the best offensive lines in football, drafted highly touted skill players like Jonathan Taylor and added veteran quarterback Philip Rivers to lead the Colts. With the division up for grabs, expect Indianapolis to quietly make their way into playoff contention.
Los Angeles Rams
Two seasons ago the Rams found themselves playing in the Super Bowl. After still recording nine wins last season but finishing third in their division, Sean McVay’s squad has positioned themselves to rebound and make the playoffs.
Bolstering one of the best defenses in football led by T.J Watt and young playmakers on offence like James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mike Tomlin’s squad was just missing one thing, their franchise quarterback. Fresh off of having elbow surgery, Ben Roethlisberger will look to pick up where he left off two seasons ago when he was among the league leaders in passing.
Yes, those Miami Dolphins who have Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback are a dark horse team this season. After finishing the season by winning five of their last nine games, coach Brian Flores spent the off season adding players that will fit the new culture in Miami and upgraded areas of need like the offensive line. Now that Brady has left New England there is a void in the AFC East that Fitzmagic could fill.