NFL Season Brings New Rosters and Plenty of Surprises
by Anthony Scurto on Monday, September 30th, 2013
After another chaotic NFL offseason, the regular season is finally underway. Many teams are coming into the year with high expectations, while others, in a state of transition, pose less of a threat.
In the AFC East, the New England Patriots (3-0), once again, are poised to be Super Bowl contenders. However, the big question for this team is whether future Hall of Famer Tom Brady can mesh with a receiving core that is weaker than those who have been fielded the last few years. The last time the Patriots went into the season with such an unsteady receiving core was 2006, when the team ended up going 12-4 to finish the season. The only team in the AFC East that seems to have potential to dethrone the Pats are the young Miami Dolphins (3-0), led by second-year head coach Joe Philbin and newly-signed receiving threat Mike Wallace.
The AFC South is a tale of two teams: the Indianapolis Colts (2-1) and the Texans (2-1). Both were playoff teams last year and are in position to repeat their previous success, with no significant changes happening in the conference over the offseason. Many expect the Colts’ Andrew Luck to further improve upon an already impressive rookie year, in which he led a team, which just a year earlier had won only one game, to the playoffs. The Texans and their stellar defense, led by J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing, will once again be tough to face throughout the year.
The AFC North, host to the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens (2-1), is an intriguing division. Every team has a shot for the division crown– except for the Browns (1-2), who barely squeezed past the lowly Vikings last Sunday. The Bengals (2-1) are a team on the rise, making two playoff appearances in two years under quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton will be looking for AJ Green, their elite wideout, this season, and with a deep backfield, the Bengals have a good shot at taking the North by surprise this year.
The Peyton Manning-led Broncos (2-0) have now teamed up with former Patriots receiver Wes Welker to form a complete contender in the AFC West. However, in a surprise start to the season, the Kansas City Chiefs have started 3-0 with newly acquired head coach Andy Reid, after garnering two wins all of last season.
On the other side of the league, the NFC has three teams expected to dominate this upcoming year. The 49ers (1-2) have gotten off to a shaky start, but last year’s NFC Champion for the Super Bowl will once again be a contender in the tough NFC conference, due to the dynamic ability of Colin Kaepernick at quarterback and leadership skills of head coach Jim Harbaugh. Pete Carroll’s Seahawks (3-0) also are a favorite under second year quarterback Russell Wilson. The Atlanta Falcons (1-2), who, like the 49ers have had a tough schedule to start the season but will likely bounce back some big wins due to the sheer talent on their roster. With their high-powered offense, led by Matt Ryan and his receiving core of Julio Jones and Roddy White, the Falcons will once again be a threat in the NFC.
This season is wide open, and it will be interesting to see how it goes for many of the teams. It wouldn’t be shocking to see a cellar-dweller like the Raiders to make a move with a recent infusion of young talent. The football season is always filled with surprise, and this year shouldn’t be any different.
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