Why I can't wait for NFL football:
With NFL training camps underway and the first preseasons games kicking off on Thursday, August 9, the NFL season is really almost here. Last season featured some big changes in the NFL landscape, with several teams with a recent history of mediocrity coming out swinging. The Detroit Lions, Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers were just three of the many surprises we saw. Tebowmania, a dominant Niners and Texan teams, it was quite a changing of the guard. Live Toast's 2012 NFL preview looks at the top ten NFL storylines we'll be keeping an eye on this season. With demand for NFL tickets starting to pick up, it looks like we're not the only ones with football on the mind!
Peyton and the Broncos - After leading the Colts to victory in Super Bowl XLI, being among the most recognized athletes on the planet and arguably putting Indianapolis on the map as a sports town (laugh if you want but it recently hosted both a Super Bowl and and the NCAA Tournament), the Colts rewarded Peyton by kicking him to the curb for Stanford's Andrew Luck. But Indianapolis's loss was Denver's win, as the Broncos were eager to bring in one of the most talented quarterbacks in NFL history in exchange for jettisoning one of the most-hyped. While questions remain about the health of Peyton's back, if he is healthy the Broncos, who made the post-season and won a playoff game behind two lousy quarterbacks, could be a real threat as a Superbowl contender.
Luck and the Horseshoe - With the departure of Manning, the entire Colt's front office has placed all their faith on Luck's shoulders. NFL Scouts agree that he's as close to a sure thing a you can get in the NFL, and we all know scouts are never wrong. Sure nobody is expecting Luck to be Aaron Rodgers in his first full year, but he needs to show some promise as the replacement for Peyton or it could get ugly in the Circle City.
Brady & Belichick - Brady and Belichick were anointed the best at their position ages ago, but its been seven years since they last won a Superbowl. Was last season their last shot, or does will the dynamic due bring another Lombardi Trophy home to Beantown before its all said and done? At ages 60 and 34, their window of opportunity is starting to shrink.p>
The New York Football Giants - The defending champs lost a number of players and were actually a mediocre team last year until the playoffs approached. Eli was great at manufacturing some great come-from-behind wins, but playing from behind takes its toll and there's no guaranteeing the G-Men can keep it up this year. The Eagles and Cowboys should be better this year, and as champs the Giants will face some very good teams including the Niners, Steelers, Packers, Saints and Ravens. While it would be silly to rule the champs out, they will have a tougher road to the playoffs and will be missing some keys players from last year.
You better believe Tony Romo is drinking the Dallas Cowboy Kool-Aid, err Gatorade, but are fans? All kinds of pressure is on the QB, but what else is new in Jerryworld?
Will the Cowboys suck? The only thing more reliable than Jerry Jones guaranteeing a Superbowl is the Cowboys playing crappy football. They sure know how to blow a game, and for all the talent on the team the 'Boys just haven't been able to get anything done in the Romo era. Is this the year they can pull it together, or will Dez Bryant assaulting his mother be the start yet another trainwreck of a season?
Can Houston continue to dominate? One of the biggest surprises last season was the Texan's rise as one of the elite teams in the NFL, all without a quarterback. They finally got Manning out of their lives, so the future looks bright for Space City. Texans fans have been waiting patiently for more than a decade now, and a step-back will not be tolerated. A Texans team that matches or exceed last year's team should keep them as one of the best teams in the NFL.
Peytonless Saints - After being one of the best teams in the NFL the past few season, the Saints are in disarray, with coach Sean Peyton suspended for the season. They still have Drew Brees at QB, and he almost counts as a coach himself. Do the Saints have the discipline to remain an elite team or will this season be spent treading water? One thing I know is that I need Darren Sproles to produce because I stole him for like $3 in my keeper league last year. So Drew, if you're reading, just let Sproles run, you don't need the punishment.
Is Detroit for real? After a decade-plus of futility the Lions ended up 10 - 6 and made the playoffs for the first time since 1999. They have one of the most talented receivers in the game in Calvin "Megatron" Johnson, an absolute beast in Ndamukohng Suh and a talented QB in Matt Stafford. Detroit plays in a tough conference so expecting them to win the NFC North is a tall order, but they should be competitive again in 2012.
The New York Jets: because the only thing better than one crappy quarterback is two crappy quarterbacks
The J-E-T-S- Jets Jets Jets! Welcome to New York Jets football, where the only thing better than one crappy quarterback is two crappy quarterbacks. Mark Sanchez has not been holding up his part of the Jet's plan for him to become an elite QB, so Gang Green decided to take in another college football star with mixed NFL results. Having two QBs that can start in a tough division in a market like NYC... Nope, there are definitely zero controversies awaiting Rex Ryan and the Jets this season...
Cam Newton and the Panthers - After leading Auburn to the BCS Title Cam Newton was the Panther's #1 pick in the 2011 draft. Entering the season there was all kinds of naysaying about the QB being able to adapt to the NFL. I think most NFL fans would agree he answered those questions in 2011. With a year of experience under his belt, can Cam take the Panthers to the next level? Carolina was among the most exciting teams in the league last season. In 2012 they need to translate that excitement to wins.
So there you have it, the ten storylines we are most interested to watch develop during the 2012 NFL season. What do you think, what storyline are you most excited to watch? What teams are more intriguing than the ten listed above? We want to hear from you so sound off on the comments section below!