NFL kicks off with Super Bowl rematch, rising rookie storylines

Nick Beach

The scheduling plan may not have worked out, as several of the quarterbacks in these primetime affairs have never started an NFL game. However, there are many other storylines as opening weekend approaches.

For starters, rookie quarterbacks have been less of a focus this year than in recent years. Two unexpected candidates take the field in Week 1. 

Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles starts against the Cleveland Browns after previously being third on the depth chart prior to Sam Bradford’s trade to the Minnesota Vikings.

Dallas Cowboys rookie Dak Prescott will take the field in place of the often injured Tony Romo against the New York Giants. Prescott was selected in the fourth round, not expected to be much of a factor for Dallas, but he had more than impressive preseason and enters the season with a head of steam. 

Monday Night Football will have a doubleheader on ESPN as the Pittsburgh Steelers, minus La’veon Bell and Martavis Bryant, will take on the reigning NFC East champion Washington Redskins. 

The night cap will feature the Los Angeles Rams first contest with Los Angeles tied to their name as they travel to Santa Clara to take on the San Fransisco 49ers. Colin Kaepernick will likely sit during the National Anthem, and will surely be sitting during the game as Blaine Gabbert has been announced as the starting quarterback.

A team I really liked entering the preseason was Minnesota. They looked to get past their field goal nightmare from last year’s playoffs and use their balanced roster to make serious noise in the NFC.

They definitely take a step back following the loss of Teddy Bridgewater to an ACL injury, but Sam Bradford will still take them to the playoffs. 

Carolina will reach the postseason, but the Super Bowl loss jinx will remain in effect and the Cardinals will show up as the class of the NFC.

A couple other teams to watch are the Green Bay Packers and potentially Dallas, but both of those teams have theirs holes. Arizona defeats Seattle in the NFC Championship to go on to the Super Bowl after another career-year from veteran Carson Palmer and the prowess of young multifaceted back David Johnson.

In the AFC, a division to watch is the South. It’s wide open and every team is interesting, with the Colts looking to bounce back with the healthy return of quarterback Andrew Luck. The Jacksonville Jaguars have done a nice job building from the ground up and they are likely still a year away however.

The Tennessee Titans were the worst team in football last year, but they got much more physical and could surprise some people. The Houston Texans are the favorites to win their division with their strong defense and additions of Lamar Miller and Brock Osweiler.

Pittsburgh will take the North despite their suspensions and the Bengals will take a wild card spot. The Chiefs will return to the postseason out of the West and the Super Bowl champions, Denver, will fall short. 

For the playoffs, the prediction is the Jets will finally surpass the Patriots to win the AFC East and make the playoffs with Brady’s suspension. But the Patriots will still eek out a wild card berth.

Tom Brady is 39 years old, but he has one great year left in him. He will take the Patriots to the playoffs and he will be so driven all year long following the suspension that no one is stopping New England in the playoffs.

The Patriots will meet the Cardinals in Houston on Feb. 5, and it will be close but Arizona will fall just short. New England rises to claim another Super Bowl. 

There is plenty of action ahead in America’s new favorite sport this season. Tune in starting Thursday night as Carolina takes on Denver at 7:30 p.m. CST.