The 2020 NFL season is (checks calendar) actually upon us! Maybe it’s the lack of any pre-season games, or more likely that other thing going on in the world, but this season feels like it has come completely out of nowhere. It’s become overly cliché to say “this will be a season like none other”, but it definitely applies here so I’ll allow it.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the major storylines going into the new season, along with some (very early) rapid-fire predictions for each division and the season as a whole.
First things first, the elephant in the room, the thing none of us can seem to escape: Covid-19. The pandemic has already caused plenty of change and unrest in sports, but I am especially fearful for the NFL.
Even without fans, there are a TON of players (53) on a team roster. That’s even before we get into coaches, referees, medical and other essential staff. At bare bones levels, you’re still talking about several hundred people needed in a stadium to put a game together.
Oh, and a few dozen of those people will have a difficult time social distancing when they are constantly slamming face to face into each other. Aaaaand the majority of them are going to then get on an airplane each week to travel to another city.
It’s not looking good, guys. I give it three weeks before the first game is postponed or cancelled. Let’s just hope for swift containment and a full season.
This past off-season had BY FAR the craziest starting quarterback carousel that I can recall in my lifetime. More than a few big-name QBs are about to wear a new uniform for the first time.
Tom Brady is in Tampa and playing without coach Bill Belichick for the first time in his professional career. Philip Rivers is now with Indianapolis. Teddy Bridgewater is with Carolina replacing Cam Newton who left to join New England to replace Tom Brady. It’s like a Russian doll situation.
Even my beloved Chicago Bears traded for former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. Although, in typical Chicago quarterback fashion, the Bears have decided to go with last years starter Mitchell Trubisky under center, making Foles one of the most expensive backups in the league.
Great move guys, you haven’t even played a single game this season and I already want to turn off the TV.
Whether or not some if any of these changes of scenery will lead to success is up for debate (or hope or prayer), but it does certainly make things interesting.
New Look Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Speaking of the Golden Boy Tom Brady, Tampa has gone ALL IN this year. In addition to Brady, the Bucs have really brought in the star power. Signing TB12’s old pal (and former WWE 24/7 champion!) Rob Gronkowski, 6 time Pro-Bowl RB LeSean McCoy and RB Leonard Fournette.
Will this work? I have serious doubts, although plenty of people seem to think a winning season is coming Tampa’s way. Brady is old and only getting older. The Gronk hasn’t played in a game since Super Bowl VIII in February 2019 and is possibly a human concussion at this point. McCoy is old in running back years and Fournette (while young) is trending towards being a bust more than a breakout star. Outside of the new additions, the Bucs do have some other great players (Mike Evans and Chris Godwin come to mind), but everything has to click pretty quickly if they want any hope of a successful season.
Social Justice & Racial Equality
Outside of that whole pandemic thing, social justice and racial equality issues have (finally) come to the forefront of sports (and society as a whole) over the last several months. How will NFL owners and the league react to this? The same NFL who only 4 years ago not so subtly shunned and blackballed Colin Kaepernick for protesting the same issues. The same NFL who just TWO YEARS ago voted to require players to stand during the national anthem.
The league doesn’t exactly have the best track record on the matter, but I think public pressure and (more importantly for them) potential loss of revenue will bring about a quick change in their way of thinking. Whether they like it or not, I expect plenty of kneeling and “Black Lives Matter” messages this season – hopefully Roger Goodell and company can get on board this time.
Far Far Too Early Predictions
AFC Division Winners:
East: Buffalo Bills (am I really picking the Bills??? Yes I am)
West: Kansas City Chiefs
North: Baltimore Raves
South: Houston Texans
NFC Division Winners
East: Philadelphia Eagles
West: Seattle Seahawks
North: Chicago Bears (I honestly don’t even believe this, but there is no way in hell I’m going to pick the Vikings or the Packers so take this division with a grain of salt)
South: New Orleans Saints
Super Bowl LV
Kansas City Chiefs v. Seattle Seahawks, the Chiefs win in a LANDSLIDE
Put it on the board!