Are fans ready for some football? 2007 marks the 88th season played by the American Football league. Unfortunately, controversy has marred the start of the season – the most notorious being Atlanta Falcon quarterback Michael Vick pleading guilty to gambling and dog fighting charges. Vick stands to face a year to 18 months in jail, and has been suspended from the NFL as of August. “Pacman” Jones of the Tennessee Titans is in trouble as well, suspended for the entire ’07 season for his conduct off the field – a suspension not given to a player in the past 44 years. But Football goes on in spite of controversy, with the New Orleans Saints and Superbowl winners Indianapolis Colts kicking off the season in the RCA Dome.
The San Diego Chargers seem to be the AFC frontrunners in ’07, and they will open at home against Superbowl finalist Chicago. Then it gets interesting, as the Charges travel to meet the Patriots – and this is one huge game where bitter feelings definitely carry on after last year’s playoff loss. The Pats have done nothing but win recently – fans can expect them to be quite aggressive for that championship once again. The Colts are a favourite to be in the playoffs as well – but most Super Bowl champs take a hit the following season, and there is simply too much talent in the AFC. The Jaguars will be looking to prove themselves, and the Bengals have no choice but to improve their defense.
The Broncos will have a lot on their plate in ’07, dealing with two player deaths, and new coaching staff. What Denver will do in the field remains to be seen, but Denver is always a contender nonetheless, especially with the Steelers looking to come back strong after a mediocre ’06. Things look tougher for the Jets, as their schedule won’t be as easy in ’07 as it was last season. And will the Chiefs be as talented on the field as they seem in their reality TV show?
The NFC is hoping to have the potential the AFC teams do. How will the NFC fare in ’07? The Chicago Bears are not changing much from their SuperBowl team, and continue to have a fantastic defense. It is hard not to picture The Bears in the playoffs – although they do face a tough schedule, and their offence still needs a bit of work. And speaking of offence, the New Orleans Saints look to be playoff contenders as well, just on their offence alone – the saints are expected to be dangerous in ’07. Seattle is back in shape again, with Alexander and Hasselbeck in good health.
The Seahawks stand to face the 49ers twice this season. They comeback vastly improved after 7 win team in ’06 – and the critics hot pick in ’07. Things don’t look as good for the Eagles, however. There seems to be a pattern to McNabb and his injuries – and they need to pile on the wins in the early season, otherwise December won’t look good for Philadelphia. Dallas, in contrast, is pegged by critics to be the NFC East champ – and the Cowboys have the talent this year to make it to the playoffs. It remains to be seen how the New York Giants will do this season without Tiki. But the schedule looks good, and the talent on the team is responding well to Coughlin’s coaching style. Minnesota needs to make a bit of noise in ’07, and Arizona still needs to grow a bit in the West. Will Carolina and Tampa be a challenge for the Saints in the South?
Time will tell – but all considered, ’07-08 looks like an exciting and promising season for fans all across the board.