As with everything else in 2020, this NFL season will be very different from most. The preseason was completely canceled due to coronavirus concerns, but the regular season is still set to start on time this September. It’s still unclear exactly how many fans will be in the stadiums when the season rolls around, but some teams have stated they plan to allow a limited number of spectators. Here’s the run-down on what to expect this year:
Coaching and Quarterback Changes
Aside from COVID-19, the D.C.-based team temporarily changed its name to the Washington Football Team as they work to determine a permanent name after finally removing a slur against Native Americans from the team title. On the field, Tom Brady is playing his 21st season in the league but his first without Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Brady left for Tampa Bay this offseason by signing a 2 year/$50 million contract, reuniting with Rob Gronkowski in the process. Cam Newton will look to fill the void in New England after he was released by Carolina, and Teddy Bridgewater will get another shot to be a starting quarterback as he will take over for the Panthers. Philip Rivers joins Brady as a veteran quarterback who will be joining a new team as he will be suiting up for the Indianapolis Colts this season. Other quarterback changes involve number one overall pick Joe Burrow taking the reins in Cincinnati and Tua Tagovailoa trying to win the starting job in Miami.
In addition to a flurry of quarterback changes this offseason, five different teams hired new head coaches. Three NFC East teams found a new coach with Mike McCarthy taking over in Dallas, Ron Rivera in Washington and Joe Judge in New York. The Browns and Panthers also hired new coaches in Kevin Stefanski and Matt Rhule, respectively. McCarthy and Stefanski have the most pressure to win immediately while Rivera, Judge, and Rhule will look to rebuild.
Taking Home Trophies
As we look at the favorites in this upcoming season, there are some familiar faces, but also some new teams looking to be part of the top tier. The reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs are the favorites according to Action Network odds, but the Ravens and 49ers are not far behind. Other top teams include Tom Brady’s Buccaneers, Drew Brees and the Saints, as well as the Dallas Cowboys. The Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots all look poised for another playoff appearance.
When looking at individual awards, three players are the favorites for MVP: Super Bowl Champion and 2018 MVP Patrick Mahomes, 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson and seven-time Pro-Bowler Russell Wilson. Quarterbacks Brady, Brees, Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray, Aaron Rodgers and Carson Wentz all have a decent chance to win the award according to Las Vegas odds. Running back Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans has the best odds of any non-quarterback, but is still considered a long shot to win. With the importance of the quarterback in today’s game, it is almost a guarantee that a quarterback will win the award for the eighth consecutive year.
Overall, there are still a lot of unknowns regarding the 2020 NFL season. The goal is to play a full season without any major health issues to ensure that both the players and fans stay safe. As far as on the field, 2020 has shown that anything can happen, so we will have to wait and see who comes out on top. It seems likely that the Chiefs, Ravens and 49ers will be on top of the league once again, but this crazy season could be a chance for a new team to make a surprise jump. Currently, the NFL will be trying a similar format to the MLB with normal travel schedules, but more restrictions about what players are allowed to do off the field. There have been talks of moving to a bubble format for the playoffs, but that is still a long way away, so we will have to wait and see what happens.
With only a few weeks until the first game of the year, it’s time to sit back and enjoy a hopefully exciting and healthy NFL season.