By Devon POV Mason | Shadow League Reporter
1. Brady’s Quest For Eight Rings
Tom Brady arrived in Tampa last season after spending the first 19 seasons of his illustrious Hall of Fame career in New England, where he won six Super Bowls, while playing on Super Sunday nine times.
All he did in year one in Tampa was win his seventh Lombardi Trophy and fifth Super Bowl MVP. He also, led the Bucs to the first home game in SB history. The ageless one hasn’t missed a beat so far this offseason.
— NFL (@NFL) August 29, 2021
2. The “Rookie 5” Quarterbacks
For the first in more than twenty-years, five quarterbacks were selected in the first 15 picks of the NFL Draft. The top three picks overall were QBs, Trevor Lawrence (Jaguars), Zach Wilson (Jets) and Trey Lance (Niners). The Bears traded up to pick No.11 to draft Justin Fields and the Patriots took Mac Jones at No.15.
— Vendetta Media (@media_vendetta) May 22, 2021
Lawrence and Wilson are the sure-fire starters in Jacksonville and NY, but the other three are currently behind veterans in Jimmy Garoppolo, Andy Dalton, and former NFL MVP Cam Newton. No matter how much the three backups play this year, all five will have a huge impact on their franchise’s going forward.
3. Can The NFC Least Become Beast Again?
In 2020, the NFC East was considered the worst division in the NFL (and one of the worst divisions ever) with a combined record of 23-40-1.
The division’s postseason representative was the Washington Football Team and they boasted an ugly 7-9 record. Dallas will be the favorite with Dak Prescott returning from injury, and a plethora of offensive talent. However, Washington is back on the come up, as it pairs an outstanding defense with a sporadically brilliant journeyman QB in Ryan Fitzpatrick “AKA” FitzMagic.
More Fitzmagic on the way? ✨
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) August 29, 2021
The Giants have added some offensive pieces to go around QB Daniel Jones and they get the multi-talented Saquon Barkley back.
The Philadelphia Eagles are in rebuild mode with inexperienced Jalen Hurts starting at QB and rookie head coach Nick Sirianni about to make his coaching debut. While it’s unlikely that this division will turn into one of the best in 2021, it should show considerable improvement over last year’s dire performance.
4. Draft Duo of 2016 Find New Homes
Jared Goff is now in Detroit and Carson Wentz is now in Indianapolis. It will be interesting to see how they perform in new places and under new sysytems. Both are at career crossroads.
1️⃣6️⃣ days till gameday 🔥
— ☾ D e t r o i t N i g h t m a r e ☾ (@DetNightmare) August 27, 2021
5. Aaron Rodgers Last Year In Green Bay
Rodgers is the reigning MVP, but after another underacheiving postseason and turbulent offseason, he’ll be making his final run with Green Bay. He’s been vocal about Green Bay drafting his future replacement (Jordan Love) and not giving him a heads up or any input into the Draft process.
Highest Adjusted Completion % last season:
– 78%: Aaron Rodgers
– 76%: Deshaun Watson
– 75%: Russell Wilson
Rodgers had 2nd-highest in last decade pic.twitter.com/m6Pv0DsAMD
— KING NFL Stats (@KINGNFLStats) August 26, 2021
At 37-years-old — and still elite — can he win another Lombardi in his last season before leaving the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field?
6. The Saints Without Brees
Future first-ballot Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees retired at the end of last season, leaving a huge void in the Saints’ prolific offense. After a lengthy QB competition former No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston won the job over Taysom “Jack of All Trades” Hill.
— NOTSportsCenter (@NOTSportsCenter) August 24, 2021
The team still has Sean Payton plus weapons Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas and a very good defense. But the belief is the SB window has closed without Brees. However, Winston is no slouch and before he left Tampa he was the franchsie leader in a number of categories.
7. Ravens Playoff Failures
Or should we place the blame on Lamar Jackson?
Either way, it is truly remarkable that the Baltimore Ravens haven’t made it back to the Super Bowl since their success over the San Francisco 49ers in 2013. Back-to-back division titles in 2018 and 2019 ultimately proved fruitless, after disappointing home defeats to the Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee Titans.
In 2020, they went 11-5 and won at Tennessee 20-13 in the Wildcard Playoff game, only to turn around a week later and score just 3 points in a toothless offensive performance, losing 17-3 loss to the Bills.
Lamar responds to the reports that people around the league have said, "This might be the year that everybody figures out Lamar Jackson." pic.twitter.com/5fKdTWTljQ
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) August 24, 2021
The Ravens making the playoffs isn’t the issue, it’s the lack of innovation and offensive creativity needed to advance. Reaching the promised land just became an even harder task with the loss of promising tailback JK Dobbins for the season with a knee injury.
8. Bills Going Back-to-Back In AFC East
In 2020, Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills finally broke the New England Patriots 11-year stranglehold on the AFC East. They’ll looks to continue their upward climb and do it again.
From No. 87 to No. 10 in just a year.
— NFL (@NFL) August 28, 2021
The Patriots will be better and Miami could be a real challenge, but the Bills are more talented than both and have Super Bowl aspirations. Adding Emmanuel Sanders as another pass catching threat really helps this team and keeps teams from doubling star wideout Stefon Diggs. Josh Allen could easily win MVP as well.
9. Matthew Stafford Makes Rams Contenders
Following his 2021 trade from football purgatory aka “Detroit,” Stafford has resurfaced under the tutelage of offensive savant Sean McVay.
While Stafford’s numbers have always been exceptional, the team results weren’t more often than not.
Patrick Mahomes needs just 180 yards to pass Matthew Stafford for the most pass yards through a player's first 50 games in #NFL history.
Mahomes needs just 1 TD to pass Dan Marino for the most pass TD through a player's first 50 games.
— Jeff Kerr (@JeffKerrCBS) August 26, 2021
But that’s not all on him either, as his teams in the “Motor City” didn’t have much all-world artillery outside of Stafford, Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson and a few other pieces. Now Stafford gets to play with a dominant defense, competent offensive playcaller and weapons at his disposal. Stafford should taste the postseason for the first time since 2016.
10. The Affect of The 17-Game Schedule
For beginners no one knows how the 17-game schedule will affect players. We could see more teams struggling with injuries, and fewer teams in contention the final few weeks of the season.
The introduction of two extra playoff spots could also mean postseason hopes stay alive a little longer. Some teams will get the benefit of a crucial extra home game. Some teams will be chomping at the bit for that extra game, especially a team that has a home game and is in playoff contention.
The question the NFL and NFL fans are anxiously awaiting to be answere is, “What Happens With Deshaun Watson?” Will the Uber talented QB be traded or maybe even suspended… we’ll have to wait and see.