Kam Chancellor is key for the Seahawks
Chancellor is a Super Bowl champion, three-time Pro Bowler and two-time second team All-Pro. A a strong safety, he is among the best there is. He has reached a contract stalemate with Seattle and it is hurting the team. The 34 points that the St.Louis Rams scored in defeating the Seahawks is the most they have conceded in the last four seasons and the 352 total yards conceded was 85 yards above their league-leading average last season. The sooner Seattle gets on the same page as Kam, the better for the reigning NFC champions. There is a very real chance they slip to 0-2 as they play the Green Bay Packers in Week 2; if that happens the alarm bells will really be ringing.
The best of Rob Gronkowski is yet to come
As a tight-end, Gronk stands alone in the NFL. Sure, Jimmy Graham might stake a claim to being ranked 1A but Gronkowski fought through injuries in 2012 and 2013 and has made a habit of breaking records. In a 74 game career he has tallied 63 touchdowns, and he started the season with a dominant performance against Pittsburgh as he tallied three touchdowns and 97 receiving yards. In an age where teams pour over hours of tape in an effort to stop the opposition, Gronk is proving to be match-up proof and is an athletic marvel. At just 26 years of age and with a clean bill of health, we may see Gronkowski surpass expectations as he New England Patriots look to defend their SuperBowl crown.
Julio Jones is ready to make a leap
Jones was a first round pick in 2011 and has steadily improved each year, peaking as he ranked third in total receptions and receiving yards and second in receiving yards per game last season. The knock on him was that he scored just six touchdowns last season, a far lower total than expected from someone of his calibre. If Week 1 is anything to judge by, Jones seems to be intent on rectifying that flaw. Adding two touchdowns to 141 receiving yards, Jones took advantage of a porous Philadelphia pass defense and displayed great chemistry with quarterback Matt Ryan. With Ryan looking to Jones as his main target in a high-scoring offense, and playing under the Georgia Dome each week, the Atlanta wide receiver looks likely to challenge Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown for the mantle of the league's best wide receiver. Some think he is already there, although there may be some premature bias here...
Peyton Manning's struggles are very real
Manning is living legend of the sport. A surefire Hall-of-Famer, he was a star for the Indianapolis Colts but has stepped up to another level since being traded to the Broncos in before the 2012 season. He tallied a league-leading quarterback rating on 2012 and 2013, recording a historic 5477 passing yards and 55 touchdowns in 2013 and is a five-tiem NFL MVP. However, the end may be nigh as an elite quarterback.
In the last six weeks of 2014, Manning battled injury as he averaged just 237 passing yards per game, along with nine touchdowns and six interceptions. For a player with a career TD:INT ratio of 2.23, the signs were concerning. In Week 1, Manning faced a passing Baltimore defence that is far from elite but completed just 24-of-40 passes for 175 yards and threw one interception.
Talk of a back injury offers a possible reason for Manning's struggles, but at 39 years of age we may be seeing the beginning of the end for this icon. Of course, his record speaks for itself and may delay the reading of his footballing obituary
The Philaldelphia Eagles will take some time to gel
The hype around the Philadelphia Eagles had some predicting them to be the SuperBowl bolter of 2015. The addition of All-Pro running back DeMarco Murray, who led the league in rushing yards in 2014 and linebacker Kiko Alonso is cause for optimism. Add to that the acquisition of 2010 #1 overall draft pick Sam Bradford, free-agency signing of running back Ryan Matthews and expected development of second-year wide receiver Jordan Matthews and one can see why so many people were so high on the Eagles.
In Week 1, Philadelphia travelled to the Georgia Dome and things didnt exactly go to plan against the Atlanta Falcons. Falling behind by 17 points in the first half, the Eagles rallied but couldnt catch Atlanta as they went down 26-24. Both the passing and running defence struggled and while Bradford had a productive second half, he started very slowly as he adjusted to a new offense. Despite having Murray and Ryan Matthews and facing a poor rushing defence, the Eagles tallied just 63 rushing yards which ranked them next to last across the league.
The early season schedule isnt kind with games against the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets in Weeks 2 and 3. It is natural that a side with so many new faces will take some time to find its feet, and the heat will be on Chip Kelly and his coaching staff if the Eagles start too slowly. As much as Kelly loves to have his quarterbacks control the game, you can't help but think there might be more DeMarco in Week 2