NFL 2017 Season Preview: What You Need To Know
With the NFL preseason underway, eyes are already fixed on September, the month when the 2017 NFL season truly kicks off. Although preseason success doesn’t always translate to the regular season, it’s hard not to speculate. Here’s everything NFL fans need to know heading into the upcoming NFL football season.
When Does The Season Start?
The specific date every football fan should have circled on their calendar is September 7. This season begins with a Thursday night game between the New England Patriots, the defending Super Bowl champions, and the visiting Kansas City Chiefs. For much of the rest of the league, the new season starts Sunday, September 10th. There are a couple of exceptions as the two Monday night games will see Minnesota Vikings host the New Orleans Saints and the San Diego Chargers visit the Denver Broncos.
Who Are The Players To Watch?
As with every year, the NFL Draft introduces a wave of promising new talent. This season is no exception, though some rookies seem more poised to adapt to life in pro football than others.
The Cleveland Browns appear to have learned from their misstep with Johnny “Football” Manziel. Instead of going with hype, the Browns opted for an almost sure thing with defensive end Myles Garrett. Interestingly Manziel and Garrett share Texas A&M backgrounds, but the similarities end there as Garrett is already earning praise for his work ethic and eagerness to learn. If the Browns continue to make smart picks like this, it could finally help the troubled franchise get on the right track.
Sports pundits are gushing over tight end Evan Engram, a first-round draft pick for the New York Giants. Although ESPN noted Engram “was quiet the first week of camp,” he seems to be showing more of the speed and sheer athleticism that made him such a hot topic during the NFL draft. Not only does Engram show strong potential when receiving the ball, but he also has ideal defensive qualities, which could make him indispensable during the regular season.
It’s worth noting that not all eyes are on rookies this year, as there are returning players with a lot to prove. The Dallas Cowboys had a monster regular season in 2016 thanks in large part to the formidable duo of quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Esekiel Elliot. Thanks to veteran quarterback Tony Romo’s retirement and Elliott’s suspension, more attention than ever will be on Prescott. Thus far, Prescott doesn’t seem poised to crack under pressure, but only time will tell how he copes.
NFL Rates Patriots As Top Offense, But Will It Be Enough?
The NFL ranked its Top 10 offenses coming into 2017, with much of the praise coming as a result of strong 2016 performances. With teams gaining and losing athletes, it’s fair to say that these offensive rankings might be different from what we saw last season. Even so, it’s no surprise that the New England Patriots are thought to have the strongest offense overall. With Tom Brady still at the helm, the Patriots boast a leadership that seems able to weather practically any storm — and there are quite a few storms ahead for the New England team.
The good news is Bleacher Report’s power ranking of NFL defensive lines post-draft places the New England Patriots at No. 4, which suggests the former Super Bowl champs will be among the most balanced teams heading into regular season action.
The NFL International Series
In an effort to increase global awareness, several teams will be playing regular season games abroad. London will host four NFL games. Meanwhile, the Mexico City game between Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots has already sold out. In addition to more games, the NFL announced that athletes from the United Kingdom, Germany, and Netherlands will train and practice alongside NFL athletes as part of the International Player Pathway program.
From promising new players to an expanding global interest in American football, there’s a lot to anticipate. This year promises to bring a lot of drama as new NFL stars are poised to rise to the occasion and certain teams may not perform as well as promised. With a few weeks of suspense-filled waiting left, sports fans can only speculate as to which individuals and teams will measure up and who will be found wanting.