The grueling wait for professional football will soon come to an end when the National Football League's preseason slate kicks off at the beginning of August.
It goes without saying, but it's been nearly half a calendar year since the Seattle Seahawks surprisingly steamrolled the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. And it will be roughly another half a year until we get the chance to see two more teams battle for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The only question is which teams will successfully navigate their way to the biggest football game of the season?
As always, it would be a sin not to mention the defending champions as hopefuls when discussing Super Bowl XLIX, which is scheduled to take place inside University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona. The Seahawks return the NFL's stingiest defense which limited opposing offenses to just 14.4 points a season ago. Plus, the emergence of Russell Wilson at quarterback should bode well for a potential repeat bid as well.
Other Super Bowl contenders from the NFC include the San Francisco 49ers (led by Colin Kaepernick), Carolina Panthers (led by Cam Newton), New Orleans Saints (led by Drew Brees) and Green Bay Packers (led by Aaron Rodgers), among others. Of course, we can expect a surprise team or two to rise from the pack too.
On the AFC side, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos will once again have to fend off tough competition from their own division in the likes of the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers, all of which earned playoff berths last year. In addition to those three teams, the Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals will hope to defend their division crowns and make repeat trips to the promise land. However, the talk of the NFL might just revolve around the Cleveland Browns and their polarizing signal caller known as Johnny Football. Manziel will have his work cut out for him to deliver something countless Browns quarterbacks before him haven't been able to do: get the Browns to the playoffs.
On a related note, have you noticed one common theme among contending teams? Yeah, you guessed correctly, every one of them has a formidable quarterback behind center, commanding the offense like a seasoned general directs his troops. Oh, and just about every one of them boasts stifling defenses too, which has a tendency to travel well from week-to-week.
All told, it is ridiculously difficult to correctly predict which two teams will be left standing on Feb. 1, 2015 when the Super Bowl takes place. But that definitely doesn't mean we cannot try! For those of you with a knack of predicting the future, why not get out your crystal ball and head over to bet online at William Hill Sports to record your picks for the upcoming NFL season? There is bound to be numerous fourth quarter comebacks, overtime thrillers, and last minute heartbreakers, so although we still have a little time to wait for the season, rest assured the glorious return of NFL action is near.