Time to talk NFL football

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Emily Autumn Velasquez, Editor-in-Chief

After an offseason full of major moves, an exciting draft and a revealing preseason, the 2022-2023 National Football League season is sure to be one full of surprises and compelling games. 

The American Football Conference (AFC) is full of tough contenders with a lot of big blockbuster trades. 

The AFC North is set to be interesting with all the young quarterbacks in the division. The Cincinnati Bengals are looking to make a statement after losing in Super Bowl LVI against the Los Angeles Rams. With quarterback Joe Burrow, wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and running back Joe Mixon, they are ready to take the field again. The Bengals are looking like they will take the division again. The Cleveland Browns are looking to be contenders again after acquiring wide receiver Amari Cooper and quarterback Deshaun Watson, but Watson is facing a suspension from the NFL after facing sexual assault allegations. The Baltimore Ravens are always contenders with quarterback Lamar Jackson under center and Mark Andrews at tight end. Lastly, but not least are the Pittsburgh Steelers. With wide receivers George Pickens and Diontae Johnson, people should keep an eye on the quarterback battle between Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett.  

The AFC East is a tough division that has the Buffalo Bills looking like they might come out on top. After a nearly perfect postseason, one coin toss sealed their fate and set them on a revenge path with star players quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The Miami Dolphins made some interesting moves this offseason and will be the biggest competition for the Bills under the new guidance of head coach Mike McDaniel and after acquiring players like running back Raheem Mostert and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. The New England Patriots are never a team to count out if they are under the guidance of Head Coach Bill Belichick. Entering his second year, quarterback Mac Jones is looking to lead the Patriots to success. The New York Jets are facing some struggles after losing their starting quarter Zach Wilson to an injury in the preseason and will have to make adjustments to remain competitive. 

The AFC South will be a toss-up between the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans. The Colts made an offseason trade to acquire quarterback Matt Ryan from the Falcons and with Jonathan Taylor at running back, the Colts are looking to win the division. The Titans have a force in running back Derrick Henry, but will he be enough after losing A.J. Brown in a trade to the Philadelphia Eagles? The Houston Texans seem to be in a rebuilding year. They had a perfect preseason under the new guidance of Head Coach Lovie Smith and second-year quarterback Davis Mills. Under the new guidance of Head Coach Doug Pederson and second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars are looking to improve after finishing last in the league last year. 

The AFC West division is set to be one of the most competitive divisions after several offseason moves were made. The Denver Broncos made a trade with the Seattle Seahawks to acquire quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson signed a five-year extension Sept. 1 that will provide Broncos fans with hope of what is to come with him at QB1. The Las Vegas Raiders made a blockbuster move by acquiring wide receiver Davante Adams, reuniting him with college quarterback Derek Carr. The Kansas City Chiefs have been one of the strongest teams in the AFC recently, but this offseason lost star wide receiver Tyreek Hill. I think the team to pull out on top of the division will be the Los Angeles Chargers. With potential showing last season, they made moves in the offseason to improve their defense by adding cornerback J.C. Jackson and pass rusher Khalil Mack. The National Football Conference (NFC) is full of tough teams and tough divisions with deep rivalries. 

The NFC North has been dominated by the Green Bay Packers in recent years, and this year I don’t anticipate things to be much different. The Minnesota Vikings are under the new guidance of Head Coach Kevin O’Connell with star power like wide receiver Justin Jefferson and running back Dalvin Cook. The Chicago Bears lost Khalil Mack to the Chargers and wide receiver Allen Robinson II to the Rams, so they seem to be rebuilding again. The Lions made some strong moves by drafting defensive end Aidan Hutchinson to the team and are looking to improve after a tough season last year.  

The NFC East is sure to be interesting to watch as there has not been a defending division champion repeat since 2004. The Cowboys have defensive power returning, however, their struggles seemed to be more offensive with quarterback Dak Prescott struggling in their postseason loss as well as running back Ezekiel Elliot struggling to get his stats back up to where they were in the beginning of his career with Dallas. The Washington Commanders and New York Giants seem to still be in their rebuilding stages, but in this division the competition is always high. My anticipated division winner is the Philadelphia Eagles as they made some additions to their already impressive team by giving quarterback Jalen Hurts offensive weapons such as wide receivers A.J Brown and Zach Pascal. With Hurts improving as each game passes, it seems he finally has the tools needed for a successful season. 

The NFC South looks like it will end with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back on top of the division after quarterback Tom Brady decided to hold off on his retirement. They also signed extensions for plenty of their star players, acquired tight end Kyle Rudolph after losing Rob Gronkowski to retirement, and franchise tagged wide receiver Chris Godwin. The Atlanta Falcons is looking toward tight end Kyle Pitts to make waves with quarterback Marcus Mariota under center. The New Orleans Saints are looking to bounce back after a difficult season filled with injuries with the help of quarterback Jameis Winston, defensive end Cameron Jordan and wide receiver Michael Thomas. Lastly, the Carolina Panthers are also looking to improve this season with the help of running back Christian McCaffrey and new quarterback Baker Mayfield. 

The NFC West has been one of the toughest divisions in the league for years now and looks to be yet another year full of competition. The division title will be a toss-up between the Super Bowl Champions, the Rams and the San Francisco 49ers. The Rams are looking to continue their success with stars like wide receiver Cooper Kupp, quarterback Matthew Stafford and defensive end Aaron Donald. The 49ers are looking to take the division this year with second-year quarterback Trey Lance and made several contract extensions and signings in players like wide receiver Deebo Samuel, cornerback Charvarius Ward, and defensive end Drake Jackson. The Arizona Cardinals are looking to compete as they made offseason moves such as adding wide receivers Hollywood Brown and A.J. Green, extending tight end Zach Ertz and quarterback Kyler Murray. The Seattle Seahawks seem to be in rebuilding mode as they are with quarterback Geno Smith under center with wide receivers Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf on the edges. The Seahawks faced some tough losses this offseason after losing Wilson and Wagner to opposing teams. 

My Super Bowl prediction is the Bills and the 49ers.

After much anticipation, this upcoming season is set to be a compelling one and kicks off with the Bills and the Rams at 6:20 p.m. Sept. 8 at SoFi Stadium.

Emily Autumn Velasquez is the editor in chief and may be reached at [email protected]; @byemilyyautumn on Instagram or @emilyautumn20 on Twitter.