NFL (Belated) Season Preview

It’s no secret that the NFL has experienced a boom in popularity in Australia as of late. American Football has gained traction with Australian fans for its displays of freakish athleticism, dramatic finishes and seemingly endless controversy.

After yet another offseason, it’s time.

Week one was a feast of football. Three divisional games in total were played, with the Packers defeating the Bears, the Seahawks falling to the Rams, and the Giants crumbling late against the Cowboys.

These early divisional match ups are crucial for teams looking to assert their dominance in the standings, and can be the difference between making the playoffs and an early holiday.

But week one is often just a prelude to the real meat of the regular season. So what subtext should we be looking for over the next 16 weeks? Here’s four points to think about:

Will the Patriots win it all, again?

Last seasons Super Bowl champions were spared from pinning their hopes on back up quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo when Tom Brady’s ‘deflate-gate’ suspension was overturned. The resulting celebrations can still be heard all across New England.

Playing Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Jacksonville and Dallas in their first four games could give the Pats the inside track to the playoffs, but a newly strengthened AFC East will be sure to keep the pressure on them all season.

Early favourites? Sure. But nothing is certain, especially when our next guy is in the league…

Fantasy watch: #Tommy is still a viable option as your starting QB. Yes, he is 38 years old. TE Rob Gronkowski is certainly rewarding his owners early on.

Can Aaron Rodgers save Green Bay?

Yes. Yes he can. Only freak accidents can stop Aaron Rodgers. Next question.

Fantasy watch: If you want to spend an early pick on a QB, make it the bad man that is Aaron Rodgers – I certainly did – even without most of his core WR’s.

Is Robert Griffin III capable of being an NFL Quarterback?     

Maybe he just isn’t the guy the Washington Redskins are after? When Head Coach Jay Gruden arrived from Cincinnati, it was after three years of marshalling an offense run by pocket-passer Andy Dalton. Gruden has shown his hand early by benching Griffin III in favour of Kirk Cousins, but RGIII still has a lot to offer. I guess the main question now is: Which team is brave enough to give him one more chance?

Fantasy watch: Steer well clear of any Washington QB’s. RB Alfred Morris may be the only fantasy relevant player in their whole squad.

Marcus Mariota vs. Jameis Winston

It isn’t often you get to see the number one and two draft picks face each other in week one of the regular season. It’s even less common that they are both QB’s.

Winston was not able to avenge the 59-20 defeat that Mariota’s Oregon Ducks handed his Florida State Seminoles in this year’s Rose Bowl; The Titans were all over the Bucs, beating them convincingly, with Mariota throwing for four TD’s in the process, and Winston looking out of his depth.

But it’s a long season, and both will have their chances to rise and fall respectively. Regardless of how their teams are playing, both Mariota and Winston would do well to take notes on what has happened to Griffin III since his rookie year. One great season does not make a career, but a bad one could.

Fantasy watch: Mariota could well provide some value as your bench cover, but I wouldn’t start either of these guys just yet.


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