With the conclusion of Week 18 on January 9th, the NFL’s longest-ever regular season has finally come to a close, and what a season has it been so far! From stars who continue to shine from the emergence of many younger studs, the NFL is set for a playoff full of intrigue and a league full of exciting talent for years to come. With the Super Bowl, free agency, and the NFL draft quickly approaching, there is plenty of excitement in store for football fans.
Despite the emergence of young studs such as Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, this season was dominated by more experienced quarterbacks. Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, who is now 44 years old, led the NFL with 5316 passing yards. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers responded to a tumultuous offseason with another MVP-caliber year, putting up 37 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions and a 111.9 passer rating. Star Titans running back Derrick Henry seemed poised for another 2,000 yards of rushing on the ground before a foot injury in Week 8, which knocked him out for the rest of the regular season. In his absence, second-year running back Jonathan Taylor of the Colts emerged as the NFL’s premier rusher, leading the league in rushing yards, touchdowns, and yards after contact. Any fantasy football player will also be familiar with Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who led the NFL in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the ball, many other players also had amazing years. T.J. Watt of the Steelers made a strong case for defensive player of the year, putting up 22.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss, leading the league in both stats. Cornerback Trevon Diggs of the Cowboys had a breakout year, leading the league with 11 interceptions and breaking up 21 passes, which was second most. Several rookies also had standout years, with Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons both putting up monster numbers. Veteran Ravens kicker Justin Tucker hit the longest field goal in NFL history with a 66 yard game-winning kick against the Lions.
Looking ahead, there is a lot for football fans to be excited for. As the Super Bowl draws closer, the top teams in the NFL will have to prove themselves. The Giants and Jets will look to rebuild after a rough season with their 4-13 records. Fortunately, four of this year’s top ten draft picks are held by the two teams, with the Jets holding the fourth and tenth overall picks and the Giants holding the fifth and seventh overall picks. Hopefully, those high overall picks will help the New York teams. The first overall pick in the draft, for the second year in a row, will belong to the Jacksonville Jaguars. With Aaron Rodgers and standout receiver Davante Adams potentially leaving the Green Bay Packers and the future of many other players unknown, this offseason is set to be a wild one. RHS Junior Peter Caderet summed up the season succinctly: “There was lots of upsets and madness everywhere.”
Graphic: Sunny Rhew