The Weekly Kickoff with Geoff Schwartz: NFL Week 1
Editor’s note: The Weekly Kickoff is a weekly column from the pen of former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz. Check back every week for the latest edition.
The NFL is back folks. WOOOOOOOHOOOOOO. It felt incredible last night watching the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans. Three hours of normalcy in our life. I needed it. The country needed it. And if all goes well, we have 255 more NFL games to watch over 17 weeks of action.
The NFL and its players deserve credit for how they’ve managed to get back on the field without a bubble. I understand the natural skepticism towards the NFL’s management of player health and safety, and I was concerned about this plan to play without a bubble. However the NFL put the money, resources and technology into making it safe for everyone to work.
And credit the players and staff who kept themselves out of COVID-19 hot spots off the field. And with everyone doing their part, we have football, which means we have my favorite storylines to watch this season.
1) Tompa Bay
This is everyone’s favorite storyline and for good reason. After 20 seasons and six Super Bowl championships, Tom Brady left New England for Tampa Bay, a dark horse for Brady’s services when it was announced he was leaving. Brady chose a roster that was a huge upgrade from New England, especially on offense. It’s been over 10 seasons since Brady had weapons like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Cameron Brate, plus Rob Gronkowski is back.
Add the Bucs’ top five defense from 2019, and Brady has a legitimate chance to win the Super Bowl in his first campaign in Tampa. All eyes will be on him this season to see if he’s got something left in the tank. If there’s any doubters who believe Brady is just a system QB (every QB is a system QB), they will have to eat crow if he wins in Tampa Bay. I’m excited to watch.
2) Who wins the NFC?
The AFC is simple. It’s Kansas City and Baltimore. Anyone else is a long shot and has no chance if both teams at the top of this conference can stay healthy. So we turn towards the NFC for some parity. The 49ers lost the Super Bowl, but return as almost the same team. Can they avoid the Super Bowl loss hangover? Seattle has Russell Wilson, which means it always has a chance. Arizona isn’t quite there yet, but the Cards have an exciting young QB in Kyler Murray.
The Packers went 13-3, decided to not help Aaron Rodgers in the draft, instead opting to draft his future replacement. Will Rodgers play inspired football to shut up the haters? The Vikings are talented, but can Kirk Cousins win big games? Before last season, we had 8 teams between 2015 and 2018 go from worst to first. I’d put my money on the Lions.
Looking to the East, are the Eagles healthy enough to make a run? The Cowboys might be the most talented team in the NFC, but with a new coach, can they get started fast enough? I discussed Tampa above and they will have a challenge in the NFC from the Saints. New Orleans is all in for this season. It’s now or never with their cap situation. And don’t forget about those talented Falcons. If their defense can stop someone, they have a shot. This is why I love the NFL: actual parity.
I know that no one wants to discuss injuries, but this will become a part of the conversation this season. Without a proper offseason program and with a shortened training camp, I worry about the players’ bodies being ready to handle the stress of a season. I hope I’m wrong, as I’d never root for injuries, but I have a feeling it could define the season.
Alright folks, we are in this all together now. The season has started. I’m pumped and I hope you are as well. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram for more NFL thoughts at @GeoffSchwartz.
Geoff Schwartz is a former NFL offensive lineman and veteran of an eight-year career. He’s now a broadcaster and hosts the “Geoff Schwartz Is Smarter Than You” podcast. His column will appear weekly here throughout the NFL season.