The NFL regular season has arrived again.
You went 212 days and 23 hours without a game to watch that counts, prior to the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants kicking the season off at home against the Dallas Cowboys Wednesday, Sept. 5.
Now each Sunday afternoon will no longer have that feeling of a void as we can sit back and see sport at its finest play out.
If you’re the kind of person who, like me, wants to pay attention to certain storylines, here are a few of the most intriguing that should have a strong shelf life for following through the year.
The biggest thing to watch this year is seeing how the new youth movement at quarterback across the league affects the quality of the play. Ten quarterbacks that have been named their respective teams’ starters are either rookies or in their second-year as a professional.
Among them are the 2012 NFL draft’s No. 1 and 2 selections in Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Two distinctly different styles of playing the position will unfold with Luck looking to maintain a tradition pocket presence and Griffin using his new school mobility to prevent defenses from getting too comfortable in coverage. It is good for the continued long-term future of the game to have two new guys that could be potential superstars have such stark differences in playing style.
Of those in their second years, keep an eye on Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals and Christian Ponder of the Minnesota Vikings, both of whom look poised for breakout years. Overall, it is vital that most of the young guys do well if it will lead the way for more to get opportunities in the future.
The pressure to win now is felt by every franchise. Despite anything heard about getting guys “experience” being said every year by head coaches, teams are going to put guys in who can win when needed, which if a veteran is in the league still, means they can do it.
Another thing to watch for is something that has not been brought up much, but could potentially have legs. The Giants have won two of the previous five Super Bowls. That is not as narrow of a margin between some of the dynasties in NFL lore, such as the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980s or the Dallas Cowboys in the early 1990s. I don’t think it is outside of the question, though, to believe another Giants title could vault them to that status.
The thing all long-term dominant teams had is a great quarterback: guys like Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw and Tom Brady. Is Giants signal-caller Eli Manning as great as those guys were? It is still to be determined, but another win gets him a third ring, which is something all of those guys also have. The common link would be achieved, and the Giants could enter the discussion.
And finally, everyone enjoys making predictions and criticizing those who do that end up being wrong. So, to give out another one that can be added to those lists, I give you my surprise Super Bowl XLVII participants, to be played on Feb. 3, 2013 in New Orleans, La.
The Houston Texans come out of the AFC, and the Atlanta Falcons win the NFC. Houston wins it all.
Enjoy the season, because after the Super Bowl is played, it looks like there will be another 214 days between watching games that count again.