A stark look at the upcoming NFL season

With the new NFL season kicking off this weekend, there are always interesting storylines across the league to pay attention to over the next 17 weeks.

I’ve been a huge fan of football since 2008, the year before my team won the Super Bowl. What started off as a casual hobby slowly devolved into an all-consuming commitment that controls my Sunday nights and makes my roommates throw me side eye for yelling at the TV. My anticipation for the new season is slowly building, so enjoy my snarky take on the new season.

As any reasonable football fan does, I like seeing the New England Patriots lose. I always keep my fingers crossed that this season will be the one where they don’t make the playoffs. Sadly, the rest of the AFC East is all but pathetic, so there isn’t much of a chance for that to happen. Now that Tom Brady has defeated “deflategate,” something that would take an entire other article to express my disdain for, the Patriots will be back in good form, but I will still always be cheering for their weekly opponents.

On a more local note, I see no hope for the Cleveland Browns this season in the AFC North. Johnny Manziel is a terrible quarterback, and they traded the better quarterback Brian Hoyer away. Their light at the end of the tunnel is just an oncoming train. The Browns’ only savior is their defensive team, but they seriously need to avoid another string of injuries if they want to avoid falling farther into the ranks of the worst teams. Hey, at least they will always have their fans.

The AFC North was up for grabs last year, but I foresee less of a fight breaking out this time around. It’s going to end in a good old fashioned knock-down drag-out fight between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, and my money is on the Ravens. Granted this is just because I vehemently hate the Steelers, their fans and their defense.

The entire season I’m going to keep hoping and praying that the New Orleans Saints win the NFC South, but the Saints always find new ways to disappointment me. Considering the Carolina Panthers were the first team to win the division twice in a row since it was created in 2002, they have the best chance of winning again this year, but something in me says they aren’t getting a three-peat. The Panthers had a losing record last year, mostly due to Cam Newton’s poor leadership. The Saints and the Atlanta Falcons are set to improve this year, but I expect that the Panthers will just stagnate.

The Saints have placed second in the division both of those years, so there are good chances they might pull ahead. But even if the Atlanta Falcons get to the playoffs, they will just choke in the first round as usual. No playoff run this year for them.

Now to incur the wrath of every other Saints fan, my own mother included, I am extremely glad Jimmy Graham is gone. With his trade to the Seattle Seahawks, Drew Brees will be able to spend his time building connections and trusting partnerships with receivers who can actually catch the ball.

Over in the NFC East, I also foresee the Washington Redskins making a comeback with their recent announcement of Kirk Cousins replacing Robert Griffin III as their starting quarterback. Cousins has improved greatly during his time with the Redskins, but then again, it’s not like the Redskins could possibly do worse than they have recently.

Finally, in the NFC North, the last team I plan to follow this season is the Green Bay Packers. The Packers have some admirable consistency to their legacy and I predict this season to be no different, just so long as they can keep Rodgers healthy and his legs from being stomped on. I’m still not over that.