A little over 36 hours ago, Tom Brady and the Patriots played Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs. It was the opening game of the 2017 NFL season. A little over 24 hours from now, the rest of the games begin. This Sunday everybody but the Saints, Vikings, Broncos, Chargers, Dolphins, and Buccaneers will play. The former four play on Monday night; the latter two had their game moved to December due to the dangers of Hurricane Irma.
This is a pretty exciting weekend.
Football is back.
I love the game of football and have since about the time I fell in love with beer. I didn’t care for either when I was young; my association with both started after high school. That would have been around 1987.
My team, as is widely known, is the Los Angeles Rams. The story of how I became a Rams fan is documented early on in this blog. The briefest synopsis of that story is this: I became a Rams fan out of spite and because of superheroes. Superheroes have played a part in virtually everything I’ve become. It’s probably the only thing I took with me from my youth as I evolved. Cheers to them.
The Los Angeles Rams will be a better team this year. Dumping Jeff Fisher was the first, smart move they made this offseason, and they did it before it even began. Adding Sean McVay, an offensive-minded guru, was a great next step. Surrounding their 2016 #1 overall pick, QB Jared Goff, with an improved offensive line, an upgraded receiving corps, and another weapon at TE in the draft, were even better steps. All we ever asked Jeff Fisher, as fans, was to produce a team that was interesting to watch. Ranking pretty much last in the NFL in offensive production, as they did virtually every year the mustachioed-one coached the team, was as far from that as you can get. This team, this year, could be exciting. Very exciting.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m still predicting 6 wins, 10 losses.
The NFL isn’t easy. Jeff Fisher left Sean McVay a rebuilding project. Jared Goff is young and unproven. The right side of the offensive line is still suspect. Todd Gurley is coming off a disappointing year. The defensive unit is learning a new scheme. It might take time to gel.
If it does gel, quickly, then we’ll see some surprises. The difference between 6-10 and the first winning season since 2003 is only 3 victories. It could happen.
But even if it doesn’t, these Rams will be exciting to watch. They’ll score more points. They’ll play closer, and make more big plays. There will be hope at the end of the season that the playoffs are coming. Soon.
In the meantime, the haves will continue to have. Kansas City is better than advertised, if Thursday was any indication. The Pittsburgh Steelers have a stocked roster and are hungry for a seventh ring. The Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders are on the rise. Seattle and Green Bay are championship contenders again. The Atlanta Falcons may have a better roster than they did a year ago, and they nearly won the Super Bowl. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots can never be counted out.
There are some surprises looming. The Carolina Panthers are only one season removed from a Super Bowl berth, and they still have Cam Newton. The Broncos have had the best defense in the NFL for years, and probably still do. The New York Giants are due another Manning miracle.
Anything is possible.
If I had to guess with my head, I’d say that the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Atlanta Falcons have the best teams in their respective conferences. That’s the smart Super Bowl pick. My heart keeps telling me we’ll see the Dallas Cowboys play the Oakland Raiders. That’s my hunch pick. If it’s the Carolina Panthers and the Kansas City Chiefs, that’s okay, too.
Every game is a great one. Every team has a storyline.
Football is back.
I’m a little excited about that.