It is hard to believe, but we are just about two weeks away from the return of football season. It could be closer to one week if you count high school games, but for the sake of this column, letâ€™s say football starts with the first college games which will take place in a little over two weeks. Then, a few days after that, the NFL kicks into gear and before you know it, weâ€™re talking about bowl games and Super Bowls and infernal ranking systems that are not giving enough credit to the teams we favor.
As is always the case, there are a myriad of questions leading into the start of both seasons. But, as we have limited space here, I will present you with a few of the biggest ones, in my mind anyway.
Is Alabama still the team to beat? Okay, the Crimson Tide did not win the playoff last year, but they still may be the strongest team in the country this season. I certainly canâ€™t see anyone going out and picking the defending national champions, Clemson, to repeat without DeShaun Watson. So that leaves the Crimson Tide. Or Florida State. Or maybe Ohio State. Take your pick really. I think there are a handful of great teams, but as is usually the case in college football, all of them have question marks.
Speaking of Watson, will his skills translate to the NFL? The Houston Texans are a good quarterback short of being a potential Super Bowl team for a while now. Is Watson that guy? It seems like a lot of pressure to put on a rookie, but he has to be used to big games by this point in his life. Of course, heâ€™s not even the Texansâ€™ starting quarterback right now (that would be Tom Savage) so I guess weâ€™ll have to wait a little longer to see.
Will last yearâ€™s Heisman Trophy winner, Louisvilleâ€™s Lamar Jackson, repeat? I think this is always tough to predict. Jackson won the award as as sophomore so he could, conceivably, win it two more times. Of course this wonâ€™t happen as he probably will be in the NFL next season. So, can he win it again? That also seems hard as the voters often like to spread the award around. In other words, if you win it once, they are less likely to vote for you again. My prediction, Jackson is as good this year as he was last season, but he finishes second or third, mostly due to the facts I just mentioned.
Finally, is Tom Brady too old to continue being Tom Brady? The Patriotsâ€™ signal caller will be 40-years old when the season starts. If last year is any indication, he still has a lot left in his tank. However, NFL history is not filled with many good 40-year-old quarterbacks. Warren Moon was decent for the Seahawks in 1997. Brett Favre, however, is the standard bearer for old guys under center. He led the Vikings to 12 wins and almost all the way to the Super Bowl in 2009, while looking remarkably like the Favre most of us remembered playing for the Packers. You have to believe Brady will buck this trend and turn in at least one more fantastic year. That said, thereâ€™s a reason Bill Belichick is holding onto Jimmy Garoppolo for a reason. Quarterbacks do not age like wine, and Brady is much closer to turning to vinegar than he is to being the fine vintage quarterback he once was.