It isn’t too often I can write about both divisions I cover in just one article but after the first week in the 2021 NFL season, the AFC West and the NFC West divisions have one pretty impressive thing in common. Every team in both divisions won their first games. That makes me able to say, without question, the West is currently Best in the NFL.
Yeah yeah, it’s just the first week. And yeah yeah, none of them played a divisional opponent. But it wasn’t just the fact they won their games, but how they won them that made it impressive.
The Denver Broncos ended up dead last in their division last season with a 5 – 11 record, ending the season with three consecutive losses.
We know all about the quarterback issues that have plagued them since Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning left the team. And then there were the injuries that devastated the team last season, causing them to lose their future Hall of Fame linebacker and team leader, Von Miller, for the season.
All of these things equaled a horrible, no-good season in 2020 for the Broncos.
Are the issues from their last season making us overlook them this year? Are we forgetting the dynamic, young players they have added to the team? Now, I’m not saying they are Super Bowl contenders or anything… (here comes the but)
With the Pro Football Hall of Fame game and induction ceremonies over, we are just days away from week one of the 2021 NFL preseason. For what has seemed like an eternity, we have been waiting to get our eyes on new players, new coaches, and new schemes. Soon, that day will arrive.
Now for some teams, not much will change. Like both Super Bowl teams from last season, a few teams kept the majority of their players and all of their coaching staff. But the majority of teams have had some pretty big changes. Changes that could turn the fate of an entire franchise.
Now, we all know that preseason games aren’t real games. They are glorified practices that help the team decide who makes the final roster. But they also offer opportunities. Opportunities for unknown players to become know. For players far down the depth chart to move up. Opportunities for fans to find new fan favorites.
Tick tock says the clock. It is almost that time already. The 2021 NFL Training Camps are about to kick off in just a matter of weeks and while some fans may be content watching the NHL or NBA playoffs, many are just dying for football to return!
Training camp brings with it new hope. A new season full of “what could be”. New players, or players that have returned from injury, that are like shiny new toys to be excited about and loved. I decided it was time to check in with the fan forum, or at least those who weren’t on vacation, and see what players they were most excited to watch during training camp. A rookie with potential? A free agent vet who completes their team? So many things to look forward to, so let’s jump right in.
I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. And again, and again. The NFC West is the toughest division in football. This isn’t to disparage other divisions, as there are many fantastic divisions. However, over the last 7-10 years when you look at the records, how many times the winner of the NFC West has changed, how many times the division has represented the NFC in the Super Bowl… it’s hard to argue against my point.
In my article yesterday, I mentioned how the “rich got richer” when talking about the Kansas City Chiefs of the AFC West. For the NFC West, the entire division got even more competitive… which is saying a lot. Let’s take a look at how each team drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft.
There is seriously tough competition in the AFC West. It is home to the AFC Champion from the last two seasons.
In a division that has one of, if not the, strongest teams in the league, how did the other 3 franchises look to add to their rosters in order to compete with the Patrick Mahomes/Andy Reid machine in Kansas City? Pretty well according to many in the business.
Let’s take a look at each team in the division and their draft picks.
Las Vegas Raiders
With the Raiders splitting the season at 8-8 last season, they knew they didn’t need a complete overhaul in order to get better. However, the grades given to this year’s Raiders draft were mostly B’s and C’s, with one D coming in from Vinny Iver from Sporting News.
Every few weeks during the regular season, and every month or so during the offseason, I chat with a group of fans from all around the NFL to ask them a question. This month’s edition focused on free agency as that is the hot topic of the month.
Fans often have a very different perspective regarding moves their team makes than the general media does. Fans look at their team with emotion and heart. The media, or more cynical fans, tend to focus more on statistics and grades given by random websites.
We’ve heard about it all season. The 2021 NFL Cap was going down. Way down. Teams who were going to be in cap trouble are now in REAL cap trouble, and teams who thought they had the room to go get every free agent they wanted are now having to reevaluate.
I went straight to the source to try to help us figure out how teams were going to manage this difficult cap year. Miguel Benzan, also known as @PatsCap on Twitter, is one of the most respected NFL cap space minds out there. While he mostly focuses on the New England Patriots cap, he is extremely well versed in intricate details of the NFL cap. Go follow him. Now. I’ll wait. Continue reading “The impact of the 2021 NFL Cap”→
For two weeks we heard nothing but Mahomes vs Brady. New kid vs GOAT. New legacies vs old legacies. But what we soon discovered, and were not all that surprised by, is that it was more than just the quarterbacks who made an impact on the field. In the crazy world of Super Bowl mania, no matter how the media spins it, it’s still a team sport.
It’s not like I don’t understand the reason for the hype. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is, almost without question, the greatest QB to play the game versus Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the fantastically talented, young superstar of the league. A possible changing of the guard right before our eyes.
It was dubbed the “Old Man Battle”. Two quarterbacks, both over 40, both first-ballot Hall of Famers. But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs the New Orleans Saints game was about more than just aging QBs, it was about two teams with something to prove. A chip on their shoulders. Two teams that had been written off and came back swinging.
I’m not going to go over these men’s careers. As I said, Buccaneers QB Tom Brady and Saints QB Drew Brees are first-ballot Hall of Famers, we all know the impact they have made on the league. However this was more about the impact they could make in this particular game, and Brady came out on top.
During the regular season, it was New Orleans that had the upper hand in this matchup, winning 34-23 and 38-3. However, that was prior to Brees breaking 11 ribs and puncturing his lung. While his return to the field was miraculous and insanely fast, Sunday’s game showed that he wasn’t at full strength. He seemed to struggle during the game, definitely not the Brees we have gotten used to seeing.