Analysis: 2021 NFL Season preview

Rams expect to have a strong season, and rookie Quarterbacks look to take over

By Luke Servello, Staff Writer

 Last year was an NFL season unlike any other, thanks to COVID-19. There was no preseason, no full stadiums and really no sense of normalcy. With the emergence of the vaccine, it is hopefully going to change.

There are still unvaccinated players, and players testing positive for COVID-19 despite having the vaccine, so maybe the 2021 season won’t be fully normal after all. 

Nevertheless, it feels like it will be a heck of a lot closer than last year. Here are three storylines to watch for heading into the season, in no particular order. 

Photo Cap: With their offseason trade acquisition of Matthew Stafford, the Los Angeles Rams are expected to be one of the best teams in the league. They may be the biggest threat to the Buccaneers chances to repeat.

1. Rookie quarterbacks. 

Justin Fields is a sight for sore eyes in the Windy City, as the Bears amazingly have not had an All-Pro Quarterback in the Super Bowl era Andy Dalton will start the season, but Fields will likely take over as the season progresses.

 It’s a similar situation in San Francisco with Trey Lance. He’s a highly-touted guy who will start the year as the backup behind Jimmy Garoppolo, but it will be hard for Garoppolo to hold him off all year long. 

Patriots first-round pick Mac Jones flat out beat veteran quarterback Cam Newton, but can he lead the Patriots back to the promised land? With their defense as good as it is and a talented offensive line, Jones just needs to be serviceable in year one to get the Patriots to the playoffs. The Patriots are a wild card team in my book. 

Zach Wilson is going into the worst situation of any of the rookie QBs. The Jets have been one of the worst teams in the league in recent years, and they hired a defensive-minded coach in Robert Saleh. Wilson also didn’t play the greatest competition at Brigham Young University. His rookie year could be a disaster. 

The Jaguars drafted Trevor Lawrence and hired Urban Meyer, and those two will be must-sees on TV. They’re both college football legends, but will they also be successful at the next level? Time will tell. 

2. Will Lamar Jackson struggle this year or will he finally figure out how to win in the playoffs?

Lamar Jackson’s first few years in the NFL for the Ravens have been a joy to watch. Time and time again, he is seen making highlight reel plays. But he’s 1-3 lifetime in the postseason, with a 55% completion rate. 

Is this the year the league figures out how to stop his combination of passing and running ability, or will he continue to dominate? If he does, will he finally have postseason success? There are a lot of possibilities, but I think he will be good wire-to-wire this year. He’s just too talented to keep struggling in the playoffs like he has. 

3. Will the Bucs repeat? 

The Bucs seem committed to winning, which has been displayed by a significant number of their players taking hometown deals to re-sign. 

I think they are definitely a Super Bowl contender, but repeating is a hard thing to do in the NFL; it hasn’t been done since the 2003-2004 Patriots. It’s a possibility for sure, but I wouldn’t bet on it. 

My playoff predictions from the conference title games forward are the Rams over the Bucs in the NFC, and the Chiefs beating the Bills in the AFC. Finally, I have the Rams beating the Chiefs in the Super Bowl.