NFL Season Preview

The National Football League (NFL) is set to kick off on Thursday, Sept. 8, when the Buffalo Bills take on the Super Bowl-winning Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Both teams have Super Bowl aspirations, so this game will certainly be a competitive introduction to a long-awaited season. 

This NFL offseason was chaotic to say the least, with a lot of big names moving to new teams via trade and free agency. The biggest (and most controversial) move was the Cleveland Browns’ trade for ex-Houston Texans quarterback (QB) Deshaun Watson in exchange for over three first-round picks. Watson had more than 20 civil suits filed against him alleging sexual harassment and sexual assault during massage therapy sessions, and Watson has received an 11-game suspension from the NFL as a result. 

Another QB on the move was longtime Seattle Seahawk Russell Wilson, who was traded to the Denver Broncos in exchange for two first-round picks, two second-round picks, a fifth-round pick and two players. Denver has long been seen as a “QB away” from being a contender, so they’re certainly hoping for a strong season now that they have a proven winner at the most important position. 

During the offseason, the NFL saw a rise in the value of wide receivers (WR). Now more than ever, top WRs are commanding high-trade value and demanding record contract salaries. The most surprising move was Tyreek Hill being traded from the Kansas City Chiefs to the Miami Dolphins for a large trade package, which earned him a new four-year, $120-million contract. The Las Vegas Raiders shocked the league when they acquired Davante Adams from the Green Bay Packers for a first- and second-round pick and inked him a five-year, $141.250-million deal, in a move to keep pace with their incredibly competitive AFC West division.  The Philadelphia Eagles traded a first- and third-round pick to the Tennessee Titans for 25-year-old wideout A.J. Brown, who signed a four-year deal worth $100 million.

It feels like there are more elite receivers than ever before, and their value continues to grow exponentially — which is a testament to just how important they are in today’s passing-oriented game. Looking forward to the season, a lot of teams gave up future assets in order to try to compete this year, with the ones I’ve mentioned being the most notable. The Los Angeles Rams have traded several picks over the last few years to try to win a Super Bowl, and finally accomplishing that last year shows that it can be viable to move picks for proven talent. As multiple teams start to jump on the trend, it remains to be seen how effective these large trade deals will be moving forward. Still, it makes the league more exciting for the viewers. 

There are lots of teams in contention, but the current betting favorite to win the Super Bowl is the Buffalo Bills. The Bills made it to the Divisional Round last year but lost a heartbreaker in overtime to the Chiefs. Led by QB Josh Allen, Buffalo has a high-octane passing attack coupled with a top-tier defense. Allen’s connection with WR Stefon Diggs is one of the best in football, and going along with the theme of WRs getting paid, Diggs just received a 4 year, $96-million-dollar deal back in April. On the other side, the defense is anchored by arguably the league’s best safety duo in Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. Both safeties were All-Pro’s last year (Poyer making first team, Hyde second team) and will look to continue their great play in a defense that is returning eight of their 11 starters from the 2021 unit that was first in the NFL. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the second-best odds to win the Super Bowl and the best odds in the NFC. 

Other notable teams in the AFC include the Chiefs and QB Patrick Mahomes, the Los Angeles Chargers with QB Justin Herbert and a much-upgraded defense, and the Baltimore Ravens, who are led by the best rushing QB in football in Lamar Jackson. In the NFC, look out for the Green Bay Packers with back-to-back MVP QB Aaron Rodgers and the San Francisco 49ers, who have an extremely well-rounded roster but are rolling with the relatively unproven Trey Lance at quarterback. 

The Bills have all the momentum on their side to finally win the Super Bowl this year. As the first football Sunday of the year approaches, the excitement of another dramatic NFL season awaits.