8 NFL Storylines Guaranteed to Make Waves This Season

  • Sam Bradford

    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    Who won the Nick Foles / Sam Bradford trade?

    Chip Kelly’s offseason wheeling and dealing will have far-reaching effects across the league, but no move will resonate louder than his big quarterback swap. After back-to-back 10-6 seasons, Kelly decided that Nick Foles wasn’t the guy to push the Eagles to the top, which led to a rare trade of starting quarterbacks.

    Bradford’s pedigree is apparent–he was the No. 1 overall pick, after all–but he’s coming off consecutive ACL tears, putting his durability and NFL viability into question. Foles thrived in Kelly’s up-tempo attack, but he’ll have to prove in St. Louis that he wasn’t just a product of the system.

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  • Tom Brady

    Keith Allison/Flickr Creative Commons

    Can the Patriots survive Brady’s missed time?

    We’re still awaiting a final verdict on Tom Brady’s suspension appeal, but it’s likely that the defending champs will be missing the future Hall of Famer for at least a couple games. The major question New England faces is whether that time missed will be enough to derail their attempt at back-to-back titles.

    The Patriots are a smart bet to make the playoffs either way when you consider their dominance of the AFC East for a decade plus. But homefield advantage can provide the thin margin needed to stand out from the playoff crowd, and with Brady on the shelf and losses like All-Pro corner Darrelle Revis, New England will need to come firing out of the gate.

    image via Keith Allison/Flickr Creative Commons

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  • Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    How will 49ers fare in year one post-Harbaugh?

    Love him or leave him, you can’t dismiss the impact Jim Harbaugh had on the San Francisco 49ers. The former Stanford coach leapt to the pros in memorable fashion, pushing the Niners to a 13-3 record in his first season and a Super Bowl berth in his second year.

    With Harbaugh headed for the University of Michigan, San Fran has the unenviable task of replacing one of the league’s most successful coaches over the last five seasons. Former defensive line coach Jim Tomsula is the immediate successor to the throne, and he’ll have to cope with several major losses, including the retirement of perennial All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis. Will they sink, or get their Michael Phelps on?

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  • Chris Potter/Flickr Creative Commons

    Is the NFL's return to Los Angeles upon us?

    Just two days from now on August 11, NFL owners will get together to hash out the particulars of the league’s return to Los Angeles. Regardless of which team makes the move, it is an enormous boon for the league for a franchise (or two!) to fill a void in one of America’s biggest markets.

    All that’s left to be decided are the parties involved and the timeframe to be settled. Though this will likely go over in fairly quick fashion, it’s a story that will reverberate for months and years to come. While one city will gain (at least) a team, another will be left out in the cold by the team they love the most. Stay tuned.

    image via Chris Potter/Flickr Creative Commons

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  • Jimmy Graham Seahawks

    @thejimmygraham

    Jimmy Graham's supercharging Seattle’s offense

    Seattle already featured one of the scariest teams to go up against league-wide, and things only got worse for opponents when they traded for Jimmy Graham.

    Acquiring the monstrous tight end from New Orleans didn’t come cheap; Seattle parted with center Max Unger and a first-round pick to get the deal done. But Graham gives Russell Wilson a high-caliber target the likes of which he’s never had. While Seattle’s defense will continue to be the team’s strength, look for Graham’s arrival to usher in a new era on the other side of the ball.

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  • Peyton Manning

    Harry How/Getty Images

    Last hurrah for Peyton Manning?

    Two years removed from a record-breaking campaign, it may feel silly to throw dirt on Peyton Manning’s career just yet. Still, with health concerns and Father Time looming large on the horizon, we may well be watching the last rodeo for an all-time great.

    How his team finishes could impact Manning’s decision to stay or go, and we’re not counting any team with Manning in the huddle out of contention for a title. Perhaps he’ll go out on top and cement his greatness one last time, or maybe he’ll come to the realization that he doesn’t have much left in the tank and hang up the cleats. Either way, don’t let what might be your last opportunity to watch him play go to waste. Players like Manning don’t come around very often.

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  • LeSean McCoy

    Nike

    Attitude adjustment for the Buffalo Bills

    The feelings usually associated with Buffalo are those of coming up short–look no further than their painful Super Bowl losses for an example of that. But some new characters have come swashbuckling through the snow, and they just might shake things up in upstate New York.

    With Rex Ryan bringing his defensive prowess and swagger upstate and LeSean McCoy adding talent and personality to the offense, the Bills seemed prime to turn some heads this year. This might end up being a blinding failure rather than a revival, but with a stout defense already in place, Rex has the tools in place to give the Patriots trouble in the AFC East.

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  • Teddy Bridgewater

    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    The rise of Teddy Bridgewater

    In the conversation for a No. 1 overall selection in the months leading up to last year’s draft, Teddy Bridgewater’s fall to the back of the first round was nearly inexplicable. Having shown promise when given the Vikings starting job last season, Bridgewater is due to bust out in his sophomore campaign.

    After amassing almost 3,000 yards in just 12 starts, we’re ready to see what Teddy can do with the reins from day one. Bridgewater will assumedly have his full stable of weapons, none more noteworthy than stud running back Adrian Peterson. With an every-down back to lean on and a full offseason to improve his craft, bet on Bridgewater to leap into prominence.

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  • Sam Bradford
  • Tom Brady
  • Jimmy Graham Seahawks
  • Peyton Manning
  • LeSean McCoy
  • Teddy Bridgewater

The NFL has been dormant for the past couple months, but that lasts no longer; with training camp kicking into full gear, football is once again at the forefront of sports conversation. Rosters are far from finalized yet, but it’s time to start getting excited about what’s to come for your favorite–and most despised!–teams.

While turnover is a primary element in any NFL offseason, this year felt especially turbulent from a team-building perspective. Perhaps that’s because of the sheer volume of high-profile moves–coaches leaving for college, major trades and free agent signings, and a few prestigious signal-callers making the leap to the pro ranks. It’s not simply that movement was happening, but who was making the moves. Big names don’t move around like this every year–you need to up your preparation level to be ready for this season.

There’s no telling who’s going to become the next Thanksgiving Day icon, or who might be the difference maker for their team when the playoffs roll around at the end of the season. Not even a fortune teller would be confident guaranteeing what’s to come during the 2015-16 NFL campaign, but we think we have a pretty good idea of some players, teams, and stories to keep your eye on.

Regardless of where you’re from or who you might be rooting for, you’ll be hearing plenty about these storylines as you follow the league this year. Don’t say we didn’t warn you–these are the 8 NFL Storylines Guaranteed to Make Waves This Season.

Follow Kyle on Twitter at @kyleneubeck

image via Justin Edmonds/Getty Images