newsCO.com.au –Ultimate guide to the 2017 NFL season: The new and the Brady

July 23, 2017

We celebrate the open of training camps when the addictive smell of the NFL is in the air and the Jets still are 0-0 and tied with the Patriots.

So The Post provides a primer on what to look for on the Road to Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis and who to look for and where to look for them.

Storylines

1. The G.O.A.T: If life begins at 40, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will be hoisting their sixth Lombardi Trophy together because receiver Brandin Cooks, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and defensive end Kony Ealy are youthful upgrades to the defending champs. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell should do himself a favor and bring Deflategate earplugs when he finally shows his face at Gillette Stadium for the Thursday night opener.

2. The 2015 quarterback class: Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are primed to make a playoff run. Winston has been armed with a new deep threat and complement to Mike Evans in DeSean Jackson and a new tight end in first-round draft O.J. Howard. Mariota welcomes first-round receiver Corey Davis and ex-Jets WR Eric Decker.

3. Dak to the future: Tony Romo is in the CBS booth with Jim Nantz, so Jerry Jones is praying there is no sophomore jinx for Dak Prescott. But the Cowboys might want to temper the expectations for another 23 touchdown-four interception repeat — especially if and when sidekick Ezekiel Elliott earns himself a suspension.

4. Suck for Sam Sweepstakes: The commish will be vigilant on the integrity of the game if and when the Browns and Jets embark on a calculated tank job, subtle or otherwise, for a shot at USC quarterback Sam Darnold, should he decide to declare for the draft.

5. Skittle big man: Marshawn Lynch is back, eager to be Beast Mode for his hometown team in Oakland, and help $25 million man Derek Carr take the Raiders back to the Super Bowl — where Lynch might announce he is just at Media Day so he don’t get fined.

6. The 2004 quarterback class: This is Philip Rivers’ first season in Los Angeles, and he still trails Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning by two Super Bowl championships. Big Ben may or may not retire after this season, and Manning’s window may close after the 2018 season when heir apparent Davis Webb is ready.

7. The 2016 quarterback class: Jared Goff has the Hollywood looks, but he looked lost as a rookie while the Eagles celebrated the Rams passing on Carson Wentz with the first-overall pick. Goff has a new head coach in offensive wunderkind Sean McVay, and Wentz has a new go-to receiver in Alshon Jeffery and new deep threat in Torrey Smith.

8. Odell Beckham Jr.: The undisputed, underpaid Nike celebrity lightning rod who unquestionably will trot out new-and-improved touchdown celebrations thanks to the less restrictive No-Fun-League edict.

9. Good-luck horseshoe: January shoulder surgery may cause Andrew Luck to miss the preseason. The Colts desperately need him to remember how to be their Peyton Manning, and one of the faces of the NFL, again.

10. The firm of Riveron, Yurk and Mackie: Senior VP of officiating Alberto Riveron, VP of instant peplay and administration and VP of officiating evaluation and development replace Dean Blandino, who escapes to FOX Sports as NFL and college football rules analyst. Instant-replay verdicts now are rendered in a league-office command center. Zebras no longer will go under the hood, merely serving as on-field consultants.

Rookie to watch

1. Leonard Fournette (RB, Jaguars): Doug Marrone’s 235-pound hammer to take the heat off QB Blake Bortles.

2. Deshaun Watson (QB, Texans): Bill O’Brien traded up for the former national champion from Clemson to help forget the Brock Osweiler nightmare and get him closer to the Super Bowl.

3. Corey Davis (WR, Titans): A 6-foot-3, 209-pounder who has drawn comparisons to Terrell Owens and will be Marcus Mariota’s go-to guy sooner rather than later.

4. Myles Garrett (DE, Browns): Coordinator Gregg Williams will make sure that the first-overall draft pick will be a menace

5. Christian McCaffrey (RB/KR, Panthers): Cam Newton and Ron Rivera ought to make sure this guy gets 15 touches every game, because he is dangerous catching passes out of the backfield.

6. Joe Mixon (RB, Bengals): Might have been the first back drafted if not for a domestic violence incident that caused him to fall to the second round, into the laps of the NFL’s Home For Wayward Boys.

7. Tarik Cohen (RB, Bears): The 199th pick of the draft, a 5-foot-6, an electrifying 179-pounder nicknamed “The Human Joystick” at North Carolina A&T who ran 4.42 at the Combine. Also labeled “Chicken Salad” for his ability to make it out of … er, manure.

8. Malik Hooker (S, Colts): A ballhawking free safety who is a threat to take any interception to the house in a division filled with inexperienced quarterbacks.

9. Dalvin Cook (RB, Vikings): Fell to the second round because of durability, fumbling and entourage baggage, but he is an explosive, big-play talent who has moved ahead of Latavius Murray (ankle) in the race to replace Adrian Peterson.

10. DeShone Kizer (QB, Browns): Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler are holding the fort for the latest hope to break the franchise’s endless quarterback curse.

DeShone KizerAP

Coaching changes

1. Kyle Shanahan (49ers): The offensive guru, who guided Atlanta’s Matt Ryan to an MVP year last season, attempts to work his magic with journeyman Brian Hoyer, more bridge quarterback than Golden Gate Bridge. If Ryan and the Falcons suffer a Super Bowl hangover, Shanahan will be cited as a chief reason why.

2. Sean McVay (Rams): At 31, the youngest head coach in the NFL will be asked to be the kind of quarterback-whisperer for Jared Goff that he was for Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins — who may hit the $30 million jackpot whenever he secures his long-term contract (49ers, perhaps)?

3. Vance Joseph (Broncos): Only one season as defensive coordinator, he comes over from the Dolphins with a reputation as an even-keeled leader of men and disciple of Gary Kubiak, Marvin Lewis and Adam Gase — who needs to solve the Trevor Siemian-Paxton Lynch QB conundrum for a franchise with win-now expectations. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy should help.

Anthony LynnAP

4. Anthony Lynn (Chargers): Rex Ryan’s longtime aide is a master at the running game and is taking a pair of former head coaches, Gus Bradley (DC) and Ken Whisenhunt (OC), with him to Los Angeles.

5. Sean McDermott (Bills): Doug Marrone bolted after two years, Ryan was booted after two years, and now the former Panthers defensive coordinator tries to end a 17-year playoff drought.

6. Doug Marrone (Jaguars): Nearly the Jets’ coach, one of the finalists for the Giants’ job, he lands in a spot where he can show these guys the Bronx and use Executive VP of football operations Tom Coughlin as a resource.

Same player, new team

1. Brandon Marshall (Giants): A two-year, $11 million bargain desperate to play in his first playoff game and the perfect complement to Odell Beckham Jr. and big target Eli Manning craves.

2. Brandin Cooks (Patriots): The blazing vertical threat, the most dangerous Tom Brady has had at his disposal since Randy Moss, who will open up the shorter and intermediate routes for Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, and Dwayne Allen, too.

3. Stephon Gilmore (Patriots): Bill Belichick kills two birds with this one stone, prying him away from the Bills and landing a big cornerback not yet 27 to match up against the likes of Julio Jones, Mike Evans, Demaryius Thomas, Amari Cooper and former teammate Sammy Watkins.

4. Alshon Jeffery (Eagles): Because of his injury history, he is on a one-year, $9.5 million show-me deal, but if he can stay on the field, he will be Carson Wentz’s go-to receiver.

5. Martellus Bennett (Packers): The self-proclaimed “Black Unicorn” won a Super Bowl ring with Tom Brady, and now he tries for another with Aaron Rodgers thanks to his three-year, $21 million contract.

6. Jeremy Maclin (Ravens): Joe Flacco desperately needed a replacement for retired Steve Smith, and the ex-Chief should return to his 1,000-yard form in the slot if healthy and earn his two-year, $11 million deal.

7. Kevin Zeitler (Browns): The Bengals will miss the best guard in the game, who joins left tackle Joe Thomas on a formidable offensive line on a five-year, $60 million deal ($31.5 million guaranteed).

8. Terrelle Pryor (Redskins): The freakish former Browns receiver enjoyed a 1,007-yard, four-TD season and was signed to a one-year, $8 million deal to help replace Pierre Garçon (and DeSean Jackson).

9. Dontari Poe (Falcons): A bidding war ended when the ex-Chief 350-plus pound defensive tackle was signed to a one-year, $8 million deal to upgrade a pedestrian run defense.

10. Adrian Peterson (Saints): No one is certain how much the artist formerly known as All Day has left at 32, but it will be intriguing to watch how Sean Payton will utilize his two-year, $7 million toy in tandem with Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara. Peterson’s first game as a Saint? “Monday Night Football” in Minnesota.

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