Last February, for many Carolinians, marked a disappointing end to an otherwise magical NFL season. The Panthers reached their first Super Bowl in 12 years, only to fall to the Denver Broncos, in the final game of Peyton Manning’s career. But none of that matters now.
This is a new year, and the Lombardi Trophy is up for grabs, even if you’re the Cleveland Browns.
Ok, maybe not the Browns, but a new season of football gives way to a new set of rookies, sleeper teams and controversies.
Reynolds varsity football Coach Pat Crowley, who has NFL experience himself, gave his predictions for the 2016 Season.
“Look for the Raiders and the Rams to have breakout seasons. Raiders have a nice nucleus of players and a good defense. Rams might rally around moving back to LA,” Crowley said.
Los Angeles had been without a professional football team for over 20 years until the Rams decided to make the move from Saint Louis. They also drafted quarterback Jared Goff with the second overall pick in this years draft, which will only add to their hype.
The rookie class coming into the league this year is one of the best in recent memory, and Crowley thinks that former Buckeyes will have the biggest impact.
“I would be on the lookout for Ezekiel Elliott and Joey Bosa, two Ohio State draftees to have good rookies seasons,” Crowley advised.
For many Reynolds students, the most important team in the NFL is the hometown team. The Carolina Panthers have become a national powerhouse and a local favorite.
“I think the Panthers have the best chance to win the Super Bowl this year; they have the best team and my favorite player Jonathan Stewart,” sophomore Stewart Holmes said.
Senior Sam Allen also cheers for the Panthers, but perhaps for alternative reasons.
“Just keep winning so I can keep getting free pizza and donuts,” Allen said.
Although it may seem like the school is dominated by Panthers fans, not everyone is expecting big things this season. One example is junior Katie Dalrymple, a Saints fan living in enemy territory.
“I think Cam Newton is just not going to deliver this year- I don’t think they even make the Super Bowl” Dalrymple predicted.
However, Crowley differs in his opinion: “[I think] Newton will gain more experience and only get better”
Patriots fans will be missing their legendary superstar Tom Brady for the first four games of the season. His suspension has become a major controversy, and everyone has their own opinion on the punishment. For those that don’t know, Brady has been accused of tampering with the air pressure in the footballs before the 2014 AFC Championship.
“He should be suspended for more than four games, he’s a cheater,” junior Camryn Jacob said.
Dalrymple agrees, saying, “I think [the suspension] is more than justified, he got off easy because he’s an elite quarterback”
Not everyone is anti-Brady including Caitlin Casey, who is a passionate TB12 supporter.
“I do not think Brady deserves his suspension,” Casey said. “In my opinion, Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks and athletes of our time and he knows he does not need a deflated ball to succeed. He says he didn’t know anything about the deflation and I believe he is telling the truth.”
All eyes now turn to February 5th, the day of Super Bowl LI. So who do you have winning it all?
“I predict the New York Giants beating the Oakland Raiders in the Super Bowl,” Crowley said.
“New York Giants, because they have a veteran offense and nobody can beat the Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz combo,” Allen claimed.
“Steelers, they have a great defense,” Jacob predicted.
But the beauty of a new season means that all 32 teams have a shot. Who knows, maybe even the Cleveland Browns.
Photo from The Odyssey Online/Google Images