It’s that time of year where we can smell the aura of the football field. We are that close to beginning a new football season. College or Pro, (both in my case) drive the sports landscape in our great nation. The NFL is the best run and most successful sports league in North America bar none. A $9 billion dollar business that still continues to persevere through some image problems. The Super Bowl, the championship game makes more money than the other individual major sports leagues’ playoffs. That’s one game by itself. Baseball maybe labeled America’s past time but we all know what the most popular sport is. College football has its own mystique. From the big time fierce rivalries such as Ohio State-Michigan, and to the crazy traditions and bombastic crowds, College holds up its end of the bargain. We’re still in the dog days of summer, where baseball is the only sport playing a season, but excitement ramps up when Training Camp starts. Let’s take a look at some story lines heading into this season.
Will the SEC, specifically Alabama take the crown again in the last year of the now former BCS system? It sure looks that way, unless they stumble in the conference. I don’t see Alabama, especially with a now even more experienced quarterback in A.J McCarron, losing a game this season. Of course this is just a prediction, not fact. In the Big Ten, the Ohio State Buckeyes are an interesting commodity. Coming off a no postseason sanctioned year, the Bucks finished 12-0 in the first year of Urban Meyer’s regime. Their schedule is considerably weaker than others in terms of making the National Championship, and they may be left out. Poor non-conference scheduling is a big reason why. In my opinion, they’ll be on the cusp, but a slip up anywhere on their schedule and they can say goodbye to that opportunity. Hey! At least it’s the last year of this atrocious postseason system, but I can basically guarantee that someone will be feeling disappointed and left out again.
Now to the Pro Game. Baltimore looks to repeat on last year’s improbable run through the postseason to win it all. Gone are faces of the franchise, Ray Lewis who retired and Ed Reed who left to join Houston. Can Joe Flacco dazzle as he did last postseason? I see the Ravens as a Playoff team but not one that will repeat. Much buzz surrounds both the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos. Both teams added explosive and productive wide receivers to their rosters and also weakened other rivals in their conference. See Wes Welker and Percy Harvin. Expectations know no bounds in these cities at the moment. Are the championship windows for perennial contenders Pittsburgh and New England closing? Both teams are old but their experienced and proven quarterbacks give them a shot. Specifically talking about the Patriots, how will they respond to the Hernandez situation? Certainly a big blow. The NFC is the much tougher and better conference, with an array of really good teams such as: Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle and Green Bay. How will the Saints perform as Sean Payton returns from suspension? As always, questions litter our minds before the start of the season. I just want the games to begin. Almost there! I think we’re all ready to welcome Football back with open arms.