The NFL Preseason is here which means after just four short weeks of practice competition, we will start to see football get serious in September. Here are 10 exciting things we can look forward to once the regular season bounces in to full swing.
Epic touchdown dances and celebrations
Who can’t wait to watch those awesome touchdown celebrations the players perform, attempting to one-up each other all season long? From New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s “Whip” to Jimmy Graham’s illegal goalpost dunking, we must wonder what is in store for 2015.
Improvement from the Oakland Raiders
Perhaps there is finally some hope for the Raiders to climb their way up from the bottom-feeding status they currently hold in the AFC West. Heck, head coach Jack Del Rio already claimed that the plan is for Oakland to win their division.
Second-season quarterback Derek Carr, rookie wideout Amari Cooper and young running back Latavius Murray all show promise. Additionally, wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who seems to be finding his niche with his new team, should help the bunch to attempt to bring the Raiders up in the rankings this year.
We may be in for a few surprises this year from the struggling franchise that hasn’t been in a postseason appearance since losing the Super Bowl in 2002.
Brandon Marshall and Geno Smith
Let’s pair up one of the NFL’s most established wide receivers with the hit-and-miss third year quarterback Geno Smith and see what we get. That’s what happened when the Chicago Bears traded Marshall to the New York Jets in March. The two have been best buddies since the offseason, rooming and practicing together. During the preseason it will be interesting to see what chemistry has budded from this new relationship and how they will take it to the next level this fall.
So far, cornerback Darrelle Revis seems to be enjoying himself.
Rex Ryan and LeSean McCoy in Buffalo
The Buffalo Bills will be anything but boring this season. While we do not know who will be quarterbacking for the team, we do know the Bills should offer quite the ground attack led by McCoy this season.
Ryan’s presence in Buffalo should be also keep headlines churning. He has kept us entertained thus far since signing on with Bills with comments like his unbalanced comparison of LeBron James to his quarterbacks to landing via parachute in Niagra Falls.
We’ll see if the Bills can improve on their 9-7 record from last season with some new personalities in the picture.
Rookies Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota will aim to make their mark
Winston was the No. 1 overall pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in this year’s NFL Draft. He has since been named the starter for the team by head coach Lovie Smith.
Winston enters 2015 with fabulous weapons including veteran wideout Vincent Jackson and second-year wonder Mike Evans. We’ll see what Winston brings to the table for a Bucs team, which is in dire need of a boost after the mere 17 games won in the past four years.
As for Mariota, the second overall pick by the Tennessee Titans, he looks to make his mark as the starter as well. Just don’t tell second-year quarterback Zach Mettenberger this news and expect to receive anything less than a scowl in return.
We’ll see what Mariota is capable of both through the air an on the ground as he takes his mobile skill set to the professional path this year.
Carrie Underwood’s Sunday Night Football theme song
Yes. The beautiful, blonde country singer will kick off Sunday Night Football in 2015 with her theme song. Need we say more?
Chip Kelly’s three-ring circus
Sources believe the Eagles intend to keep Tim Tebow on the final roster. pic.twitter.com/2HYoqt1TOm
— Daniel Phillips (@flipsreportNFL) August 3, 2015
For Kelly to save face in Philadelphia, he has to come up with a star quarterback who remains healthy and makes the trade of Nick Foles to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for Sam Bradford look like a smart idea. He also needs to make sure Tim Tebow fits into the mix. Otherwise we are all just going to have a big laugh if Tebow gets cut or sits on a bench all season. Lastly, butt-fumbles by Mark Sanchez must not occur.
As for running back DeMarco Murray, hopefully he will live up to the massive $8 million per year contract he inked with the team. If not, we can only imagine what type of social media backlash LeSean McCoy will dish his former coach this fall in the tune of “you’re going to miss me when I’m gone.”
Veteran additions in Indianapolis
New to the Colts this season to bolster quarterback Andrew Luck’s already powerful army are running back Frank Gore and wide receiver Andre Johnson. With retirement on the horizon, both players arguably have a better shot at making it to a Super Bowl now than they did with their former teams.
Gore comes from San Francisco where in eight of his 10 seasons he posted at least 1,000 rushing yard per year. He will be a tremendous asset to the Colts who have been in need of a major upgrade at the running back position for the last few years.
Johnson, a seven-time Pro-Bowler, left the Houston Texans on a sour note. During his 12-year run in Texas, Johnson posted a total of 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns. He’ll be a strong No. 2 wideout playing opposite T.Y. Hilton this year.
Look for the Colts to once again be one of the higher scoring offenses in 2015.
The continuation of the Johnny Manziel experiment
When will poor Johnny Football earn his opportunity to shine in Cleveland? Last year, the rookie failed miserably to replicate anything resembling that of his past college success at Texas A&M. When given an opportunity to make a mark last year, Manziel fell flat, posting only 175 passing yards, for zero scores and two interceptions.
A mixed start in training camp has the young quarterback taking a backseat behind Josh McCown—at least for now. Should Manziel be given an other opportunity to show off his talent in Cleveland this year, he must be more productive. His job moving forward certainly depends on it.
This might be a start.
Race to the Super Bowl questions
Will we see different teams other than the usual suspects in the playoffs and Super Bowl this year?
How far will quarterback Peyton Manning (who is probably playing his final year) and the Broncos go?
Will the New England Patriots dominate the AFC East, possibly without quarterback Tom Brady for four games?
Now that the Seattle Seahawks have paid quarterback Russell Wilson a pretty penny, will they make it to the Super Bowl three times in a row?
How about those Dallas Cowboys who made it through the divisional playoffs in 2014 after not having seen a postseason game since 2009?
Perhaps some underdog teams will play the spoiler this year. The Minnesota Vikings have running back Adrian Peterson back, and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater looks promising. Could they pull off a small miracle and upset the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North this year?
As for the Indianapolis Colts, they can’t seem to find their way around beating the New England Patriots when it comes to the postseason no matter what shape the footballs are in. Will we finally see Luck in his first Super Bowl?
It won’t take long for some of these questions to be answered, though others will take time to marinate before the truth is discovered. The first game of the season is just around the corner, as the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers are set to kick things off on September 10.
Photo: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports