Happy Monday, guys and gals! Another Sunday has come and gone, which puts us closer than ever to the 2014 NFL season. All this fall-like weather we’ve been having in my neck of the woods has me more than ready for kick-off, so today, we’re going to take a look at ten things we have to look forward to this year.
1. Y’all know how I feel about Johnny Football, so it kind of pains me to lead-off with him, but if you call yourself an NFL fan, you have to be at least a little bit excited to see how he looks in Cleveland this year. Could go either way, but without Josh Gordon, Manziel is definitely going to have to work some magic if he wants to succeed.
2. Peyton Manning v. Tom Brady edition XVI takes place on November 2, 2014. I know this match-up is a little overhyped (largely due to the fact that any year could be the last time it happens) at this point, but it’s still two of the greatest QBs of our time facing-off once again. This is a must watch.
3. Speaking of No. 18, he’s something to look forward to in and of himself. Manning’s trainers are saying (as they seem to every year) that he’s in the best physical condition of his career. I’m becoming convinced he’s bionic, actually. Let’s just hope he retires before we have another Brett Favre at the Vikings situation on our hands. Yeesh.
4. The return of Reggie Wayne to the Colts offense is definitely something to be excited about (yes, I’m probably a little biased.) The club managed to string together a fairly solid second half of the season (let’s ignore the Cincinnati game’s existence) even without Wayne last year, but if he comes back ready to roll, I like to think they could take the AFC in 2014.
5. Two words. Jadeveon Clowney. I can’t wait to watch Houston’s D, led by Clowney and J.J. Watt, this season. As a Colts fan, I’ll admit I’m also a little bit terrified. I’m just over here counting on Pat McAfee to protect Luck (kidding, kidding, but surely y’all heard that interview.) As long as Clowney translates well to the OLB position, he’ll be a beast on the field from Week 1.
6. Nick Foles and Co. might be without DeSean Jackson during the upcoming season, but I’m still looking forward to seeing Year 2 of Chip Kelly’s offense. Hopefully Foles can avoid a sophomore slump in Philly and prove that last year wasn’t just beginner’s luck.
7. Remaining in the NFC East, I’m looking forward to seeing the Redskins play less drama-laden football this year. Hopefully new head coach Jay Gruden and his people can get RGIIIback on track by September. Plus, the ‘Skins have the aforementioned DeSean Jackson on their roster now. Who isn’t looking forward to seeing Jackson take-on his former team not once, but twice, in 2014?
8. Steve Smith won’t be wearing a Carolina Panthers uniform for the first time since I was 9 years old. It’ll be interesting to watch him play for the Ravens and I can’t be the only one who’s waiting impatiently to see Smith play against Cam Newton and Co. this year. Smith has promised us a show when he sees his longtime team. I’m willing to bet he won’t disappoint.
9. Seattle. It’s not often I think a defending Super Bowl champion team has a legitimate chance to repeat. The Seahawks could do it this year, especially if they stay healthy. If they are going to win another Lombardi, this’ll be the season. After all, they will have to start actually paying Russell Wilson (and a host of other young players) eventually.
10. I, for one, am excited to see Aaron Rodgers return to his rightful place for the full 2014 season. If I never have to watch Seneca Wallace (attempt) to throw another pass, it’ll be too soon. Rodgers looked good to go during his brief return to the gridiron last year, so I look for him to be in fine form when Week 1 rolls around.