2018 NFL Storylines

TitleTown Philadelphia: The season always starts up in the house of the Super Bowl champions and on September 6th, the new NFL season will officially kick off with raising the banner in South Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field (yes, you read this right). The Eagles will begin their title defense against a team that they defeated in the NFC Divisional round last year in the Atlanta Falcons. This has always been a special night and I expect this one to be one to remember as the team looks back and celebrates their first championship and they will get ready to defend the crown. This is a matchup of two good receivers in Julio Jones and Alshon Jeffery and two solid running backs in Devonta Freeman and Jay Ajayi. September 6th can’t get here soon enough.

Old School NFC: The San Francisco 49ers finished the 2017 season as one of the hottest teams in the league after acquiring Jimmy Garappolo in a trade with the Patriots. He’s now their guy for the foreseeable future and will lead his 49ers into Minneapolis against the runner-ups in the NFC last season, the Minnesota Vikings. This game will feature two guys with familiar faces with new teams. Richard Sherman will make his debut with the Niners and Minnesota will debut the guy they are depending on to get them to the promised land and that’s Kirk Cousins.

An Early Rematch: Whoever thought that the Jacksonville Jaguars would be a game away from the Super Bowl? That’s what happened back in January when they got to the AFC Championship game and I remember stating that if there was any team to give the Patriots potential problems, it was these Jaguars because of the physical style of football that they play and they gave the Patriots all they could handle in the AFC Championship last year. These two will meet each other again, this time in Jacksonville and this is one of the many games that I have circled on my calendar this year. That stingy “Sacksonville” defense against the reigning MVP with a key weapon in Julian Edelman back on the field for the Patriots.

Again!: We can always appreciate a good rivalry and one of the best in the league right now is the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. For the third straight season, the Cowboys will play in their home debut against their rivals from East Rutherford. In 2016, the Giants gave the Cowboys two of their three losses that season and last year, the Cowboys returned the favor and absolutely pummeled the Giants (then again, who didn’t last season?) It’ll be a Sunday night showdown once again when these two NFC East rivals showdown with one another yet again. Will the Giants show some fight or will Dallas walk all over them again?

Teacher vs Student– Many have coached under Bill Belichick, but they’ve also struggled which shocks people especially if they were under such a legendary coach. Another one of Belichick’s students has decided to take a head coaching job. Matt Patricia, the former defensive coordinator of the Patriots took the Lions head coaching job this off-season and he will welcome his former boss to town in a classic showdown of the teacher facing off against the student. If you like quarterback matchups, this is a nice one. The best in the business at the position will face a strong-armed quarterback in Matt Stafford. The ball will be flying here in Motown.

Another Rematch?– The Vikings season ended in horrible fashion in Philadelphia this past January. The Eagles got off to a fast start and never looked back and I thought that was a major key for them considering how sloppy they looked the previous week against the Falcons. Once again, the Vikings and Eagles will meet in another playoff rematch from last season and they’ll be seeing a familiar face in Kirk Cousins, a guy they faced two times a year back to his days with the Washington Redskins. Revenge will be on the mind for Minnesota as this will be their first time returning to the Linc since that NFC Title game showdown.

Rodgers/Brady II: When we get these elite quarterback matchups, we really have to appreciate them when we can because we really don’t know when it will be the last time that they meet. We have a great one here. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady and believe it or not, this will be just the second time that they will square off against each other. This is the equivalent of LeBron James facing Kevin Durant because just like those two, these are the two best at their positions and two of the best players in the league. There’s a mutual respect between Rodgers and Brady and maybe this won’t be the only time that they meet each other this season.

A Family Reunion– The Patriots lost quite a few notable players to free agency this off-season. Dion Lewis and Malcolm Butler were two of them and they both signed with the Tennessee Titans in March. When the Titans played the Patriots last year, New England really got the best of them and put them away in the second quarter. This will be a reunion of sorts. I mentioned Lewis and Butler. The Titans head coach is Mike Vrabel, the former Patriot linebacker. What a game this could be.

Pack/Hawks: I think the league does us a favor when they schedule two matchups that we seem to get regularly. The Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks will always be linked to each other. There’s “Fail Mary”, there’s the epic NFC Championship game they played back in 2015 and each time when they play, something always seems to happen. They’ll meet for the fifth straight season and this will mark the return of Jimmy Graham to Seattle to face his former team. This game could also have some playoff implications when the postseason picture begins to form itself.

Round 3: It’s a wild chain of events in the AFC and I can explain. The Patriots seem to struggle with Kansas City, Kansas City struggles with the Steelers and the Steelers struggle with Jacksonville. We saw that last season. When they met in October, the Jaguars embarrassed the Steelers and held them to nine points and intercepted Ben Roethlisberger five times. A few months later in January, the Steelers were punched in the mouth by these same Jaguars once again and the Jags shocked the world by upsetting Pittsburgh to advance in the playoffs. They will face each other again on a Sunday night in Florida for a late-season tilt.

A Familiar Face Returns– For years, we heard the news about the potential breakup of the Seattle Seahawks. They really made the news when they decided to release Richard Sherman, a fan favorite in Seattle. When he met with John Lynch, John told him what they could offer that other teams couldn’t and that was the chance to play his former team two times a year. He’ll stay in the NFC West and play in his home state of California. For the first time in his career, Richard will return to Seattle as a visitor. This is exactly what he wanted and now, he has it.

Wentz/Goff II– When these two teams met last season, it was such a thrilling game. A lot of points were scored and this was also the game that was the turning point of the Eagles season when Carson Wentz was lost for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. This could be the next great matchup of quarterbacks in our league. Many are considering the Rams to be the biggest threat to the Eagles in the NFC and for the second straight year, they will meet again in Los Angeles.

Here We Go Again: I said up top when discussing the Packers and Seahawks, the league always seems to bless us with two particular matchups. That was one and the Patriots and Steelers were the other. This is the best rivalry going in the NFL because when they play, something is always on the line and it’s always a game that people will be discussing for months. When they played last season, the Steelers controlled things for the first three quarters, then the Tom Brady factor kicked in. When the Steelers got the football back, Ben connected with Juju Smith-Schuster for a big gain and then we saw the infamous Jesse James touchdown that was overturned and the game ended with Ben trying to fake kneel and he ends the game by throwing an interception. The Patriots won that game and clinched the one seed. I see the same exact storyline taking place again when these two meet. The winner will more than likely have home-field advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs.

Super Bowl Quarterbacks Meet– When I saw this matchup on the schedule, I just thought of all the points that could potentially be scored when the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints meet. Who doesn’t like a late interconference showdown? This will also feature Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees, two future Hall of Famers with three Super Bowl rings and all the accolades between them. This could also be the final time we see these two signal callers meet.