The NFL season is finally upon us. Preseason games have begun, and while those games seem more and more inconsequential every year, it's still nice to see again some big hits and insane catches. There was a lot of player movement in the off-season this year, and the league looks much different going into the 2019 season.
Yes, the Patriots still have Tom Brady and are probably still set the NFL bar, but there are so many of electrifying teams out there for fans to get pumped up about this season. For the coming season, here are the 10 NFL teams we're most excited about...
10. Oakland Raiders
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Granted, the Raiders almost surely won't be the best team in the league this year, but they will be fantastic television. That's part of the reason HBO chose them for the latest season of their series Hard Knocks, and we're watching it play itself out in real time faster than HBO can spit out the episodes. Between Jon Gruden's verbiage and Antonio Brown's helmet and feet, there are plenty of story lines that make this team a must-watch this season.
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Will they be good? It's possible. Opinions on quarterback Derek Carr differ, but he has flashed a high ceiling before, so with weapons like Brown and Tyrell Williams he should be able to flourish in his second season under Gruden.
Their defense should be improved with some welcomed continuity as well, with cornerback Gareon Conley may finally develop into the first round talent the Raiders believe him to be. They've beefed up their offensive and defensive lines improving their talent level all over the roster. They're in maybe the toughest division in the league, but crazier things have happened and we're pumped to see what they bring.
9. Seattle Seahawks
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With Russell Wilson, the Seahawks always have a chance. Russ alone buys them a spot on the list, but after the off-season they just had, they're holding on for dear life. Not only did they finally end the vaunted Legion of Boom defense by releasing Kam Chancellor and watching Earl Thomas leave to greener pastures in Baltimore, but they also let Doug Baldwin go after a long and storied career with the organization.
Still, they've made the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons, and they still won nine games in a season they missed the playoffs. It just seems like the Seahawks will be formidable no matter what.
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A big part of that success is, of course, Pete Carrol, who seemingly can turn a team full of practice squad players into a formidable defense. They'll have their hands tied this year with the Rams and the surging San Francisco 49ers in their division, but the signing of Ziggy Ansah alongside drafted prized prospects D.K. Metcalf and Gary Jennings to help fill the void left by Baldwin. Plus, Tyler Lockett looked like a No. 1 receiver last year while Baldwin was hampered with injuries, so the Seahawks might not miss a step as they rebuild on the fly.
8. Philadelphia Eagles
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The Philadelphia Eagles are only a year removed from winning their first Super Bowl in franchise history, but there have been plenty of big changes in Philly. They finally made the tough quarterback decision they'd been facing for a few years, choosing the younger Carson Wentz over their Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles.
It's the choice that makes the most sense, and Foles is off to try and recreate his magic in Jacksonville, while Wentz tries to bounce back from another season cut short by injury.
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The Eagles beefed up their offense this year, acquiring wide receiver Desean Jackson and running back Jordan Howard to try and give Wentz all the weapons he could ask for. The also signed Malik Jackson, Zach Brown and Vinny Curry to keep their defense near the top of the league.
They'll be fast and hard hitting on defense and should be explosive on offense, what's more exciting than that?
7. Baltimore Ravens
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Lamar Jackson alone makes the Ravens one of the most exciting teams in the league. The dual-threat quarterback should have a better grasp of the offense and more confidence from his coach John Harbaugh in his second year under center. Jackson is as much of a threat to throw a 65-yard bomb as he is to scamper for a 80-yard run.
They spent a first round pick on Oklahoma receiver Marquise Hollywood Brown, giving Jackson a big-time target to go along with new acquisitions wide receiver Willie Snead and running back Mark Ingram.
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Their biggest splash in the off-season was on defense, adding All-Pro safety Earl Thomas. Thomas, of course, was a key cog for the Seahawks' Legion of Boom defense that spearheaded that team to a Super Bowl win. Even with Thomas, they might have taken a step back on defense with the losses of Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley and Za’Darius Smith.
This all points to the Ravens probably ending up in a ton of shootouts, which is right up Jackson's wheelhouse after his time in college at the University of Louisville. Get ready for an avalanche of points and a ton of Lamar Jackson this season, and that should be awesome to see.
6. Dallas Cowboys
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The Cowboys have some big decisions to make. Their young core on offense, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliot are all due new contracts soon, but as presently constructed, they're one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL. They've also added Randall Cobb to make that offense even more explosive, and Jason Witten even made himself un-retired to stabilize the tight end position.
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Remember, this team was a few plays away from the NFC Championship Game last year, giving the Rams all they could handle in Los Angeles in January. The Cowboys are loaded, and had one of the best defenses in the league in 2018, a punishing combination of a lethal pass rush and speedy linebackers who like to hit hard at the point of attack.
'America's Team' will contain a mix of exhilarating offensive explosions and defensive dominance all year long, that is as long as Elliot reports to camp sometime soon.
5. Chicago Bears
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Speaking of dominant defenses, the Chicago Bears will likely be the NFL's most ferocious defense this year, again, following up on all their success from last year. They have Khalil Mack after a full off-season in their program and a full season in their system and that can only be beneficial. Plus, even down a few picks and up against the salary cap, they were able to make moves to somehow improve that defense where they needed it most, in the secondary.
Now, with HaHa Clinton-Dix and Buster Skrine giving their defensive line even a fraction-of-a-second more time to get to the quarterback, they should be even better.
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On offense the Bears are almost wholly dependent on the development of their young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Even with the loss of running back Jordan Howard, but they replaced him with the trio of Mike Davis, Cordarrelle Patterson and third-round draft pick David Montgomery.
There are enough weapons for Trubisky to become a weapon himself, it remains to be seen if he'll make a leap and actually do just that. If he does this, they could be the best and most exciting team in the league. Big If.
4. New Orleans Saints
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The Saints just feel like they play faster than any other team in the league. Maybe it's the Superdome, and that turf that might as well be carpet. Or it's Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas flying all over the field. Or maybe it's the darts that Drew Brees throws all game. It just feels like that team zooms all over the field.
They also added one of the best tight ends in football to Brees' arsenal this off-season by signing Jared Cook, so they should be even better and more explosive on offense, if that's even possible.
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Remember, the Saints were one play away from the Super Bowl last season, and the NFL even adjusted their rules to account for how that play went awry. They had all the tools last year, and added some more this season. Yes, there were some holes in their secondary, but they were still the 11th ranked defense in the league last season, and they tried to plug at least one of those holes by drafting Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in the 4th round to shore up the the safety position.
Either way, the Saints are going to throw a lot, have a ton of big plays and score more points than just about anybody.
3. Los Angeles Rams
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The team that beat the Saints after a controversial no-call on what many thought was a clear pass interference penalty isn't too shabby either. Jared Goff is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league and showed some big game poise last year in the playoffs, even though the Rams ultimately came up short.
But they were close, so the Rams didn't need to overhaul their roster this off-season, but the minor tinkering they did might be just enough to get them that Lombardi trophy.
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But the Rams biggest improvement might be health. Cooper Kupp is back as the slot receiver to offset the speedsters Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks terrorizing defenses on the outside. Plus, Todd Gurley should be back at full health after he was mysteriously missing in action for much of the Rams Super Bowl run.
Their three wide receiver base offense brutalized defenses last year, and with another year of continuity for Goff and a healthy Kupp and Gurley they're not going to stop anytime soon.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
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The Chiefs were a play or two away from a trip to the Super Bowl last year and their whole game is builT on speed and the massive arm of MVP Pat Mahomes. He was the youngest MVP in over 30 years, and deservedly so, being just the second player ever to throw for over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns. Mahomes is only 23 years old, practically a baby in football terms, so he's only going to get better.
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So how did the Chiefs get one of the most explosive offenses the league has ever seen? Speed and scheme. Andy Reid is an offensive genius that always seems to keep defenses off balance, and with one of the fastest humans on earth running down the field, that makes the job a little easier.
Tyreek Hill is such a monster going deep that he's made it a trade mark to wave bye at receivers as he jogs into the end-zone after long touchdowns. Between Hill's legs and Mahomes' arm, you don't really need much more to be an exciting watch every Sunday but the Chiefs also have Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce dancing all over the field and they're basically unstoppable.
1. Cleveland Browns
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I bet HBO wishes they could have the Browns on Hard Knocks again this year. Yeah, the Raiders are entertaining, but the Browns are a whole different story. They already made for great TV last year, mostly thanks to quarterback Baker Mayfield, one of the most promising young players in the league. Mayfield's mouth is almost as big as his arm, but he backs all his talk up on the field.
The Browns added an even bigger personality this off-season, and became a dark horse candidate for a Super Bowl run in the process.
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The Browns already had one dynamic receiver in Jarvis Landry, but adding his old LSU buddy Odell Beckham Jr. is almost unfair. The master of the backbreaking one-handed catch will now line up opposite Jarvis and they'll get to drive defenses crazy together, leaving Baker with plenty of options other than just handing the ball to Kareem Hunt or Nick Chubb.
The Browns might not lead the league in points or wins, but they'll definitely lead the league in ridiculous plays and viral catches, that's why we're so amped for the new 2019 season. Bring on opening day!