By Liam Day
Who do you think is Super Bowl bound for the 2016 season? There is no doubt that this year holds high expectations for all teams.
Not many strong predictions can be made to determine who the strongest and weakest teams will be this year. After an extremely eventful offseason coupled with the exhilarating 2016 NFL draft, there seems to be no team without strength in their roster.
The American Football Conference (AFC) was up for grabs for what it seemed like the first time in a while. Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady was suspended the first four games of the season, meaning that long time backup quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, had to step up as the starter. Another starter that had to step up is Denver Broncos’ quarterback Trevor Siemian. Following their Super Bowl 50 win in 2015, Siemian along with the Denver defense have high expectations this year.
The National Football Conference (NFC) is any team’s game, particularly in the East. No team in the Eastern division has made the playoffs consecutively in over ten years. This year, two rookie quarterbacks, Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz, will start for the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. Up in the North, the division champion, the Minnesota Vikings, lost two of their key players to start the season, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and running back Adrian Peterson.
The kickoff to the 2016 season began with one of the most heartbreaking losses in the first Super Bowl rematch to begin a season since 1970. The Carolina Panthers were defeated by the Denver Broncos after a missed field goal by Graham Gano in the final seconds of the game. Trevor Siemian continues to impress the league with his play after throwing for 756 yards and five touchdowns and completing sixty-seven percent of his passes in just the first four games of the season. New England played with two different backup quarterbacks through the first four games of the season. Starter Tom Brady showed that he wasn’t worried by saying, “I think Coach Belichick has the team prepared for any situation”, in an interview on Jimmy Garoppolo’s status.
Lots of key players return to the field healthy this year after injury including Panthers’ wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, Steelers’ running back Le’Veon Bell, and Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. The Panthers had a historic 15-1 season without their star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. The team was led by MVP Cam Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly who finished fourth in the defensive player of the year voting. The Steelers, who were known for their offense in 2015, played just fine without running back Le’veon Bell finishing 10-6. Backup running back Deangelo Williams rushed for over 900 yards to keep the offense steady. Bell had to sit out the win in week one versus the Redskins because of a suspension as well as weeks two and three due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Steve Smith Sr. returns healthy to Baltimore this year after a disappointing 5-11 season in 2015. He is relied on for a big part of their offense being the star wide receiver.
The outcome of the 2016 season definitely remains in question which leaves us to wonder, who will come out on top?