We’ve officially hit the graveyard period between minicamp and training camp. Players are on vacation and unless one of them does something stupid there will be very little to talk about until Mankato. So now is a good time to widen things out a little bit and do some general NFL coverage. My topic for today: the five teams I think will be the most intriguing going into the season.
5. Chicago Bears
Lovie Smith is gone and it’s a new era in Chicago. How will CFL coach Marc Trestman fare in the big boy league? Will Jay Cutler finally get some protection? And what about that defense? Brian Urlacher is gone. Will the Bears re-establish their Monsters of the Midway reputation? I have no idea what will happen with this team in 2013. They are a big-time mystery guest.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are in a similar situation to the Bears. Things seem to be very up in the air for this franchise right now. I wonder if Mike Tomlin can turn things around this year. They have had a great run with Ben Roethlisberger but I wonder if he isn’t about to fall off the cliff. You don’t expect the Steelers to have two bad years in a row.
3. New England Patriots
Things are always intriguing with Bill Belichick and his operation. But that intrigue factor is even higher now with the Aaron Hernandez mess. You wouldn’t expect a team like the Patriots with their great leadership to be affected by this kind of thing, and I don’t think they will be affected. The hard part will be replacing Hernandez’s production on the field. And if Gronkowski can’t get out there? Even bigger mess. But somehow I have a feeling Tom Brady and company will get it together. And they will end up with 10+ wins and will be in the mix for the Super Bowl.
2. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks are going for broke. They spent money in the offseason bringing in Percy Harvin. They know what they have in Russell Wilson and they don’t want to waste this window of opportunity. And they solidified their defense as well. This will be one of the most talked-about teams all season. They won’t be sneaking up on anyone either. We’ll see if Wilson can avoid the sophomore slump. And we’ll see what Percy brings to the table there.
1. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles shook things up just like the Bears. They got rid of their long-time coach Andy Reid and brought in an innovative offense mind in Chip Kelly. People will be closely watching the Eagles and Kelly. That offense of his was amazing at Oregon but will it translate to the NFL? How much of that spread stuff will Kelly be able to implement? How will defenses adjust? And then the quarterback situation. Can Michael Vick run that offense? Can they keep Vick from getting killed back there? I think pretty much everyone is fascinated by the Eagles right now. Everyone is watching to see what Kelly brings to the table. I imagine a lot of old school types are hoping he will crash-and-burn. Whatever happens in Philly, you know it will be highly entertaining.