NFL season kickoff one week away

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NFL season kickoff one week away

The 2018 NFL season kicks off Thursday, September 6, as the Super Bowl LII champion Philadelphia Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons.

The 2018 NFL season kicks off Thursday, September 6, as the Super Bowl LII champion Philadelphia Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons.

TNS

The 2018 NFL season kicks off Thursday, September 6, as the Super Bowl LII champion Philadelphia Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons.

TNS

TNS

The 2018 NFL season kicks off Thursday, September 6, as the Super Bowl LII champion Philadelphia Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons.

PRESTON JENSEN, Sports Writer

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Since Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4, football fans have anticipated the return of the next NFL season.  This year’s offseason was full of several major free agency transactions, and a talented draft class.  There have been a lot of high expectations for some players who are taking on high-pressure roles with new teams.   

In the AFC North, we have the Cleveland Browns who made some major moves this offseason to help in the hunt for wins.  With acquisitions such as Tyrod Taylor, Jarvis Landry, Baker Mayfield and a defense that has proven itself in the preseason, the Browns are looking to improve from an abysmal 0-16 2017.

The Steelers look to keep things rolling coming after a 13-3 finish. Marvin Lewis looks to get things turned around in Cincinnati. After an average 9-7 season the Ravens and Joe Flacco are looking to bounce back.    

Andy Dalton is looking impressive, as the Ravens were on the cusp of winning ten games last year, and Pittsburgh should have few problems bringing the division title home. 

Pat Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs are looking to finish a season well after starting out red-hot and then fizzling out last year.  Thus far, Mahomes looks like a great fit for Andy Reid’s offense, and has developed a dangerous deep threat relationship with speedster Tyreek Hill.

The Broncos are now being led by newcomer Case Keenum under center. The Broncos have all the pieces falling into place: a good defense, a promising running back in Royce Freeman and a veteran quarterback who took the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship Game a year ago. 

Jon Gruden is the back in charge in Oakland, while the Los Angeles Chargers are another strong team with veteran quarterback Philip Rivers under center.

In the AFC East Tom Brady and the Patriots will continue to do their thing under the genius football mind of Bill Belichick.  They should have no problem winning the division. 

The Bills are going to find out what they have in their first-round pick, quarterback Josh Allen, after starting quarterback AJ McCarron is out with what appears to be a broken collarbone. 

In New York, the Jets are having a quarterback dilemma with first-round pick Sam Darnold and Josh McCown, as Ryan Tannehill is back after last year’s season ending knee injury for the Dolphins.

Jacksonville is the reigning division champion in the AFC South. The Jags were led by their number two overall defense a season ago.  Blake Bortles looks like classic Bortles so far this preseason, which will force the defense to bail him out of trouble.

The Texans look to continue where they left off before breakout star Deshaun Watson’s season was ended due to an injury. They added some extra strength to their already good defense with Tyrann Mathieu. If Watson bounces back to his former self, expect Houston to be in playoff contention. 

Andrew Luck’s health is the number one concern in Indianapolis. Not far behind is a defense that doesn’t look too good so far.  Also, there’s  some concerns for running back for the Colts as well.

Marcus Mariota is looking to prove himself as a solid starter for the Titans after an up and down early portion of his career. 

The Vikings topped the NFC North last season falling one game short of the Super Bowl.  They return the number one ranked defense, and with the addition of talented quarterback Kirk Cousins and return of Dalvin Cook, Minnesota has their eyes on a Super Bowl run. 

Green Bay is happy to have their Super Bowl winning quarterback back after breaking his collarbone last year, and hopes to revamp their defense with new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

The Lions have a revamped backfield, a new head coach Matt Patricia, and returning veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford, while the Bears are relying on the play of Mitchell Trubisky.

The Eagles are looking for a repeat in NFC East as Super Bowl champions, and are desperately awaiting the return of Carson Wentz.

Dallas is hoping that Dak Prescott can return to his former glory, and Ezekiel Elliot will continue to be one of the most productive backs in the league. 

Alex Smith joins his new team the Washington Redskins, and the team wants to make the playoffs after a drought since the 2015 season, and Odell Beckham Jr. is back with a big new contract for the Giants along with rookie running back Saquon Barkley.

The Rams are looking to stay hot in the west, coming off an impressive 11-5 season.  They revamped the defense with players such as Ndamukong Suh and Marcus Peters. The Rams also brought in deep-threat Brandin Cooks to add to an already dangerous offense. 

In Arizona, the Cardinals are looking to turn things around. David Johnson returns after being injured last season. Sam Bradford looks to be the new replacement for Carson Palmer as quarterback, but rookie Josh Rosen thinks he is more than capable of starting.

After the 49ers signed Jimmy Garoppolo last season to lead the offense, they saw an instant turn around going undefeated with him under center.  San Francisco looks to keep it going adding defensive back Richard Sherman and running back Jerrick McKinnon as well.   

Seattle knows one thing for sure, their leader Russell Wilson can also be productive.  However, their running back situation and the state of their defense is still unknown. 

Drew Brees returns for another season after losing in the divisional round of the playoffs on the last play of the game against the Vikings.  Last season, they rejuvenated their defense, and added rookie sensation Alvin Kamara, which the team is expecting big things from once again this season.

The Carolina Panthers once again look solid on the defensive side of the ball. Their offense will rely on the decision making of Cam Newton. 

Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons are still seeking redemption after blowing the lead in the Super Bowl two seasons ago.  They are set up on offense and defense to be competitive once again. 

With starting quarterback Jameis Winston suspended for three games, and their running game not looking promising in the preseason the Buccaneers will have to make some major changes to make a playoff run in 2018.

After a dramatic offseason, football fans are ecstatic to see the newly revamped teams take the field.  This season’s first week of football is set to kick off Thursday, Sept. 6, at 7:30 p.m., in Philadelphia.    

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