The 2017-2018 NFL season kicked off on Thursday, as all 32 teams began their paths to make a successful run for the playoffs and possibly a Super Bowl ring. After the Patriots knocked off the Falcons in Super Bowl 51, they were ranked as the top team heading into this season until losing to the Chiefs in their home opener. The Patriots were bumped down to fourth overall as the Pittsburgh Steelers take over as the top team.
The Packers trail at number two in the NFL power rankings followed by the Chiefs, Patriots and Cowboys in the top five after week one. The Ravens rank at number 14 after an impressive 20-0 shutout win over the Bengals.
The Ravens will look to be dominant on both sides of the ball with a defense that looked stellar in the week one match-up against the Bengals, causing three interceptions and a fumble, and an offense with a returning quarterback in Joe Flacco and dangerous wideout targets, Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace. The Ravens finished with a 4-0 record in the preseason, beating the Redskins, Dolphins, Bills and Saints.
Other top players to look out for in the NFL include Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady of the Patriots, quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers of the Packers, Matt Ryan of the Falcons, Derek Carr of the Raiders and Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys. Other top players include linebacker Von Miller from the Broncos, wide receivers Julio Jones of the Falcons, Antonio Brown of the Steelers and Odell Beckham, Jr. of the Giants. The top running backs include Le’Veon Bell of the Steelers, David Johnson of the Cardinals and Devonta Freeman of the Atlanta Falcons.
One of the top running backs from last season, Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys, will be suspended for six games this season after his girlfriend accused Elliott of multiple counts of domestic violence against her.
Super Bowl LI last season drew around 112 million views, which was one of the top ratings in NFL history. Consequently, T.V. ratings for this year’s regular season are expected to be high as preseason ratings were up 5% from last season.
The NFL is also changing a few things to enhance telecasts throughout the season. These changes include throwing fewer penalty flags for harmless touchdown celebrations, levying bigger penalties on bigger and more brutal hits, and eliminating referees going “under the hood” to review plays that were challenged.
There are also a few rule changes to the league this season that the NFL enforced during the off-season. Players are prohibited from jumping over the line of scrimmage to block a field goal or extra point. This rule, along with others, was added to increase safety in the league. Another rule that has been added is that after intentional fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct, teams will be penalized 15 yards and the game clock will be restored if they commit multiple fouls on the same play. The final say on replay reviews and challenges will now be decided by senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino and his supervisory crew.
With all of these new exciting players, updates and rules to the NFL, this season looks to be one of the greatest in a while, giving all football fans an action-packed and exciting season.