By Patrick Barron,
Sports Business Writer
The 2017-2018 NFL season is underway and with it comes excitement to football fans everywhere. The question everyone is trying to solve, as is the case every year, is who is going to win the Super Bowl. Will the current champions, the New England Patriots, pull off the repeat? Or will a new champion emerge? There is ample enjoyment in the journey for both the teams and their legion of zealous fans.
In addition, the new season, which began last Thursday, already brought its both negative and positive surprises. For example, the champions had a devastating season opening loss at home to the Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 42-27. It was unexpected and it caused some to question the invincibility of the team.
In the surprising loss, the Patriots gave up the most points under the Coach Bill Belichick era. Of course, Belichick was not pleased with his team’s effort. He said after the game, “Bad defense, bad coaching, bad plan, bad football.”
Although, it is too early in the season (just one game), it will not stop fans and football analysts alike from commentating on the game and the season. Fans will have to keep track of Alex Smith, the quarterback of the Chiefs, as he decimated the Patriots’ already problematic defense. Despite the team drafting Patrick Mahomes II out of Texas Tech in the first round as his potential successor, Smith had one of the best games of his career in the Week 1 victory.
Despite their success, the Chiefs recently learned that they will be without Eric Berry, the five time Pro Bowl safety. He is out for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Certainly, it will be a difficult adjustment for the Chiefs as he was a leader on the team’s defense.
What’s more, the NFL kickoff game rating suffered even more loss. According to deadline.com, it had a 14.6/25 in meter-market rating. That number is down from 12% in comparison to last year’s game, and both the NFL and networks who showcase the game can hope for better ratings. If not, changes will have to be made to soften the blow.
Moreover, the next game won’t be played until Sunday afternoon, but the weekend news is sure to be dominated by talks of both the Patriots and the Chiefs. Furthermore, it is still time for bold predictions to be made, albeit some minor revisions for the aforementioned teams.
The writers of Sports Illustrated made their predictions regarding the NFL season mainly as it pertains to the top awards. Accolades such as MVP, both Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year are important indicators to highlight an individual talent and positive difference making ability on any given team. Plus, they encompass the arguments relating to the best players in the individual’s position.
As an illustration, most of the writers had either had Aaron Rodgers of the Packers, Tom Brady of the Patriots, or Derek Carr of the Raiders taking home the MVP award. Rodgers and Brady have been considered the top two quarterbacks in the league for quite some time, with Carr emerging as a star at the position.
The general consensus is that the Patriots will emerge out of the AFC, with the Steelers, Raiders and Chiefs being their top challengers. The NFC seems to be more wide open, as the Giants, Cowboys, Seahawks, Falcons, and Packers are all seen as potential Super Bowl contenders.
ESPN’s NFL Nation had their own bold predictions for the 2017 regular season. Mike Reiss hinted at a Patriot loss within the first two weeks of the season. He was right, but he expected Week 2 opponent the New Orleans Saints to hand the team its defeat. Interestingly enough, Tim McManus believes star Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will be outplayed Carson Wentz of the Eagles for a multitude of reasons, including the potential suspension of Ezekiel Elliot.
The upcoming season certainly has no shortage of storylines: The Patriots’ looking to repeat, the Colin Kaepernick discussion, and the Ezekiel Elliot saga, just to name a few.
Only time will tell how these predictions shape out. Regardless, it should be another fun year in the NFL.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 12th print edition.
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