100th NFL season is right around the corner

Christopher Gibson, Courier Staff

Football is back. Two weeks of the preseason are in the books after tonight, and it’s time for both the simple fans and the fanatical fans to dust off their gameday seats and throw on their team apparel.

With this season marking the 100th season of the NFL, the league decided that the most storied rivalry in the game will kickoff the regular season on Sept. 5: Bears vs. Packers. Whether you love either of the teams or hate them, you have to admit that the NFL couldn’t have picked a better game to start the season. I mean, just look back to the first game between these two teams last year. Khalil Mack had one of the most dominating defensive games the league saw last season in just one half of play! The game came down to the wire after Aaron Rodgers threw for three touchdowns in the last quarter of the game alone. If the game on Sept. 5 is anything like last season’s opener, then we should be in for a treat.

However, there are still a lot of question marks around the league for who will be filling in the missing pieces. Who will get the start up in the Meadowlands for the Giants? Will the Bears find someone who can finally kick? And will the Steelers be able to replace Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown and the firepower they brought?

The Giants have one of the top running backs in the league, as Saquan Barkley is going to be a force in the NFL for the next couple of years. The problem is that no one knows who’s going to be lined up under center to feed Barkley the ball. The Giants went out and drafted Daniel Jones out of Duke, with the 6th overall pick. This caused a controversy with their fan base as the fans wanted to draft Dwayne Haskins out of Ohio State instead. Obviously, the franchise sees a lot of potential in Jones if they went ahead and drafted him instead of Haskins, but the Giants also want to win now.

Jones is going to be a project for this upcoming season and will probably make a lot of mistakes, whereas Haskins was one of, if not the only, quarterback in this year’s draft that was NFL ready. To make matters even more complex, the Giants still have Eli Manning on the roster who, for better or worse, has been at the helm of their offense since 2005. It will be interesting to see who will get the start between Jones and Manning as the season goes on. Manning will probably start early on, but as the season progresses, look for Jones to start taking over.

The double-doink. The sound that will haunt every Bears fan for the next couple seasons. The ending of their postseason run was one of the most heartbreaking things to watch. Though, the team didn’t wait long to start trying to find someone to take over the kicking after cutting Parkey back in March. There were rumblings from San Francisco that Robbie Gould wanted to return to Chicago, and Bears fans were pumped. The team was going to bring back the best kicker in franchise history and there wouldn’t be any double-doinking under his watch. It wasn’t meant to be, though, as the 49ers placed their franchise tag on Gould. Now down to just two kickers, the Bears are trying to figure it out. Elliott Fry and Eddy Pineiro are battling it out for the starting job. Neither has impressed too much in the preseason so far, making it harder to figure it out.

The Pittsburgh Steelers finally got rid of two players who caused the franchise some big headaches. Bell and Brown have moved on from the Steelers to join the Jets and Raiders, respectively. Bell made headlines last year for sitting out the entire season due to him not feeling he was being paid what he deserved. Brown caused drama in the locker room, complained about the team and requested a trade. The Steelers obliged and sent him out to Oakland, one the furthest destinations from Pittsburgh as possible. The problem that the Steelers now have to face is making sure they can still be as dominant on offense as they have been the last couple of seasons. Luckily, James Connor was able to step right into the shoes that Bell left untouched last season and had a phenomenal year. It looked as if they didn’t need Bell and for Steelers fans sake, let’s hope so. The major issue is finding the replacement for Brown. As big of a headache as he was last season, Brown was still one of the top receivers in the league and made big plays whenever he touched the ball. While the team still has JuJu Smith-Schuster, will he be enough to fill in for Brown? Smith-Schuster is definitely a top wide receiver and will be for a while, but Brown was so talented that it makes me question if Smith- Schuster will be able to fill in for him. Only time will tell.

I’ve missed football. I’ve missed waking up on gameday and settling myself in for games. With only two more weeks left until the season officially starts, I can’t wait to see which players will remain dominant and which ones will fall off. Sept. 5 will start answering that question.