By: Bradley Kishiyama
After a wait that lasted 215 days, the NFL season has finally arrived. The offseason has provided us with small distractions like free agency, the draft, and training camp, but nothing compares to regular and postseason games. On September 7th, the NFL kicked off the 2017 season.
Football is one of the most popular sports in America because of all of the excitement it brings. Every year there are always highly ranked teams that flop and lower ranked teams that succeed. Even though it is impossible to guess everything that will happen during the season, people and football analysts still try. The Dragon talked to d.tech students to get their predictions and opinions about their favorite teams and players.
One of the most popular predictions this year is that the Oakland Raiders will win the AFC West, one of eight divisions in the NFL. The AFC West, which has been dominated by the Denver Broncos in recent years, is widely considered the best division in the the NFL. The Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs have some of the best defenses in the league, while the Los Angeles Chargers and the Raiders have overwhelming offenses, which make all four teams contenders to win the division and even the Super Bowl. Senior Joseph Nguyen, a Raiders fan, said “Adding better players on defense will make an impact against other AFC West teams and allow the Raiders to sneak away with this division.”
The Raiders made a key addition this offseason by signing running back Marshawn Lynch, adding to an already impressive looking offense. Lynch retired from football in early 2016 when he was a member of the Seattle Seahawks, but returned to the NFL to play for his hometown team, having grown up in Oakland and attended UC Berkeley. Nguyen was excited by the acquisition, but senior Adan Salazar felt the opposite. Salazar, a Seahawks fan, said, “I respect the Raiders, but to see one of my favorite players betray my team is disheartening.” It remains to be seen how effective an older (31 years old) and previously retired running back can be.
The New England Patriots, who some view as possible Super Bowl contenders, also have an older and potentially unreliable team member — Tom Brady. Many speculate that the 40-year old New England Patriots quarterback will be too old to be effective for his team, while others argue that he still has another few years left in him. Perhaps Brady will fall down a similar path as former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. Arguably one of the best quarterback ever, in 2013 Manning led the Broncos to a record shattering year, statistically had the best season of all time at the quarterback position, and took the Broncos to the Super Bowl. However, in the last few games of the 2014 season and throughout the 2015 season, he was clearly struggling to keep up with the fast pace of the NFL. His inability to continue to make strong throws led to his retirement at the end of the 2015 NFL season. Take Peyton Manning, arguably the second best quarterback ever, for instance. In 2013, Manning led the Broncos to a record shattering year, statistically had the best season of all time at the quarterback position, and took the Broncos to the Super Bowl. In the last few games of the 2014 season and all throughout the 2015 season, however, he was clearly struggling to keep up with the fast pace of the NFL. His inability to continue to make strong throws led to his retirement at the end of the 2015 NFL season.
Senior Michael Bentley, a Patriots fan, defended his team’s quarterback, saying: “Tom Brady has a good couple of years left in him,” adding that “he hasn’t showed any signs of slowing down.” The Patriots lost to the Kansas City Chiefs on the opening game of the season 42-27, but senior Nick Dal Porto, another Pats fan, remained confident in his team.“The last three times the Pats lost the season opener, they won the Super Bowl,” he said. Even though Bentley seemed sure that Brady would last another couple of years, he’s predicting that if the Patriots were to go to the Super Bowl it would mostly be because of “Bill [Belichick]. Also, I think there’s going to be some obscure player that Bill makes good.” Bill Belichick, the New England head coach, is one of, if not the only, reason why Brady has reached elite status in previous years.
The San Francisco 49ers generated lots of chatter about improving their position in the NFC West compared to last year. Though the 49ers bringing in new head coach Kyle Shanahan isn’t out of the ordinary for the team (San Francisco has had four new NFL head coaches in four years), acquiring a new general manager, John Lynch was exciting for Niner fans. Perhaps in a hope to improve their embarrassing 2-14 record last year, the team picked up a couple of splashy players through free agency and choose a few head-turning picks in the draft. “The Niners made good moves to build their team, but not enough to make me confident that they will make the playoffs,” senior Tyler Chan said. Chan later specified that he was impressed with the improvements on defense and happy with the head coach change, but is still doesn’t have his hopes up because of how poorly the team performed last year.
The 2017 NFL season will surely bring excitement to many people and it will be interesting to see how things play out this season for every team.