On August 5, the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers hit the gridiron in the NFL’s annual Hall of Fame Game. The Cowboys and Steelers won’t play their starters in the first preseason game. But they will work in rookies. More importantly, the NFL Hall of Fame contest signals the start of the NFL Season. Once the Boys and Steelers kick-off on August 5, there will be about a month before the first regular season game between the Cowboys and Buccaneers. Since we’re so close to a new NFL Season, we must prepare. In this blog, we discuss the Top 6 NFL Teams with the biggest changes heading into the season. Let’s get right to it so can continue planning your bets against the NFL odds.
Top 6 NFL Teams with Changes Heading Into the Season
2021 NFL Season
- When: Sep. 9, 2021 – Jan. 9, 2022
Saints will play without Drew Brees at quarterback for the first time since 2006
For the first time since 2006, Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints will name someone other than Drew Brees their starter. The starter will either be Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston.
So far, former Florida State Heisman Trophy winner and Tampa Bay Buccaneer Winston has the inside track to grab the starting nod. Winston has looked great in training camp and Payton is salivating over his exceptional arm strength.
Also, by starting Winston, Payton can continue to use Hill as a rushing quarterback or wide receiver. No matter who gets the start, the Saints’ HC is confident New Orleans’ offense won’t miss a beat.
Indianapolis likely to play Brett Hundley, Sam Ehlinger, or Jacob Eason at quarterback
Just a few days into training camp, offseason acquisition quarterback Carson Wentz injured his foot. The Colts aren’t sure if Wentz must sit out the entire season, just the first half, or maybe a couple of months.
Wentz’s injury is a huge blow. The other quarterbacks on the depth chart are Brett Hundley, Sam Ehlinger, and Jacob Easton. None of the three are ready to lead one of the best teams in the NFL.
Some project the Colts will field the league’s best defense. Indianapolis’ offensive line is also one of the best in the NFL. Without strong quarterback play, the Colts could end up wasting their talented line and excellent defense.
Outside linebacker Bud Dupree and wide receiver Julio Jones head to Tennessee
The Jones trade got the press, but a move the Titans made earlier in the season could pay off bigger than acquiring Julio Jones. Tennessee signed Bud Dupree.
Why is that important? The outside linebacker heads to a team that averaged 30.7 points per but allowed 27.4 each game from close to 400 total yards. Dupree can help both in pass defense and bottle up the rush.
He can also go after the quarterback. It’s difficult seeing Jones adding more points to Tennessee’s average each game. It’s not difficult seeing Dupree playing well enough to shave 3, maybe even 4, points from what the Titans allowed in 2020.
J.J. Watt is an Arizona Cardinal
One of the greatest defensive ends in NFL history decided to sign with the Arizona Cardinals. Watt won’t have the impact in AZ that Dupree will have in Tennessee, but he will bring something the Cardinals sorely lacked leadership skills.
Teams weren’t after Watt just because he’s still got some tread left on the tires. They also wanted Watt to come in and lead their defense.
Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury knows he mustn’t worry so much about his defenders now that Watt is on the field and roaming the sidelines on Sundays.
Matt Ruhle trades for Sam Darnold to lead the Carolina Panthers
About a week before the 2021 NFL Draft, Carolina head coach Matt Ruhle let it be known he wanted to trade up and grab one of the top five quarterbacks, Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, or Mac Jones.
It turns out, Ruhle didn’t have to worry about trading up because the Jets knew they were going to take Wilson with the second pick. NYJ sent Sam Darnold to Carolina, handing Ruhle an early Christmas present.
Because Ruhle didn’t have to draft a quarterback, he could use the eighth pick to shore up his secondary. South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn has fantastic cover skills. Knowing he’s got Horn, Ruhle can sleep somewhat better at night because he can at least temper Tom Brady’s, Matt Ryan’s, and Jameis Winston’s ability to throw it all over the field.
Los Angeles Rams give up a king’s ransom to the Lions for quarterback Matthew Stafford
But before singing Stafford’s praises too much, we must remember that he goes from the NFC North, where he got to play against Chicago, Minnesota, and Green Bay, to the NFC West, where he must take on Seattle, San Francisco, and Arizona.
Staff and the Rams could end up in shootouts all season long because the Rams had to part with a few key defenders to ensure they could afford Matthew. Pay attention during the preseason. Backing the over in Los Angeles Rams’ contests could be the way to go.
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