NFL training camps are opening and the great news dearth of mid-July will soon be history. With NFL draft picks virtually slotted into a rookie pay system, there’s no longer the lingering drama of unsigned choices (Joey Bosa in San Diego was a bit of an outlier last year).
The blog has six points to make about what’s ahead and, in football tradition, a point after. So…
1. The New England Patriots can go 14-2 again and win the Super Bowl. Last year they did it without Tom Brady for the first four games and Rob Gronkowski for half of the season and the playoffs. Now, with additions like Brandin Cooks, they are better. And, having come from 25 points down in the Super Bowl, they’re going to be more than a little confident.
2. If you merged the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers, you might have an 8-8 team. You’d have to win those eight games without a top quarterback, unless Brian Hoyer of the Niners is your idea of fun.
3. With a year of rest behind him, Marshawn Lynch might rush for 1,300 yards with the Oakland Raiders. Lynch takes pressure off Derek Carr, though, and the Raiders are sound defensively. Given the outbreak of nuttiness in Kansas City, the Raiders are easily the pick in the AFC West.
4. The New York Jets, having stripped down their roster, will fire coach Todd Bowles and shoot for the top pick in the draft. This may cause several quarterbacks to stay in college.
5. The Cleveland Browns are going to be good. Someday. This will take a little time, but with Myles Garrett and Jabrill Peppers, that defense will improve. Someday.
6. Across Lake Erie, the Buffalo Bills will extend a playoff drought that began in the last century. They’ve not been in the playoffs since 1999. New coach, same Bills more or less.
And your point after…The NFL decided to relax the penalties for player celebrations after touchdowns. This is going to give birth to newer and goofier forms of “personal expression.” Try some of those dances and gyrations at your own place of work and see how long you get to stay. Of course if those fancy moves follow big deals (i.e., touchdowns), they become more acceptable. To some folks, anyway.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman