What's Going On in the NFL This Season?
Updated: Feb 5, 2017
1. The Sitch
The New England Patriots won Super Bowl 51, defeating the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons dominated for most of the game, winning 28-3 at one point. Then, the New England Patriots scored 25 straight points to tie the game and send it into overtime. Before last night, the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history was 10 points. In addition, it was the first time that the Super Bowl had ever gone into overtime. The Patriots scored in overtime and won their fifth Super Bowl title.
2. The Unexpected Heroes
The Dallas Cowboys didn't make the playoffs last season after two of their best players got injured. This season, fans and commentators built up high expectations for the Cowboys. As luck would have it, their star quarterback suffered a fracture to his back during a preseason game. Then, their backup quarterback got injured.
Just when everyone thought the Cowboys' season was over for sure, two of the team's fresh recruits stepped up and saved the game. Backup to the backup quarterback, Dak Prescott, showed everyone that we underestimated his skills. Superstar recruit Ezekiel Elliott proved he is as good as promised. Together, these two rookies led the Dallas Cowboys to the divisional around of the playoffs, where they unfortunately lost.
3. The Team That Persevered Through 14 Years
The Oakland Raiders haven't been to the playoffs in 14 years! 14! Despite the long drought, Raiders fans are still known across the country as the rowdiest and most devoted fans in the NFL. In 2015, the Raiders hired a new head coach - Jack Del Rio. In his first season, Del Rio led the team to win four more games than they did the prior season. He developed his young quarterback Derek Carr and recruited other young talents to fill in the team's weak gaps. The Raiders now have so much talent that it is the team with the most number of players selected for the NFL Pro Bowl. Winning 12 games out of 16 played in the regular season, the Raiders secured a spot in the playoffs, for the first time in 14 years! In an unlucky twist of fate, quarterback Derek Carr broke his ankle during the Christmas Eve game. Unfortunately, without Carr, the Raiders got eliminated in the first round of playoffs.
4. The Protest for Human Rights
Colin Kaepernick, quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, made headlines for kneeling during the national anthem played before each game begins. Traditionally, everyone in the stadium stands to show respect for our country. He is responding to the Black Live Matters movement and other human rights issues. Kaepernick said, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color." The NFL and the country are divided on their opinions of Kaepernick's protest. While an NFL executive have called him a "traitor" to our nation, some NFL players have joined him in kneeling during the national anthem.
5. The Deflategate (it finally got resolved)
Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots, kept showing up in the news for over a year because of this scandal. The Patriots allegedly under-inflated the football they used in the 2015 AFC championship game, and Brady allegedly knew about it and went along with it. An under-inflated football is easier to throw, catch, and grip. The NFL investigated and as a result issued a four-game suspension of Brady. Brady's response was to take the NFL to the federal court. The court vacated the suspension on the basis that the NFL's investigation lacked fair due process for Brady. He played during the 2015 season, but the NFL didn't give up. The NFL appealed in 2016 and successfully reinstated Brady's suspension. He tried for a rehearing but didn't get one. He finally accepted the suspension and served it during the first four games of the 2016 season. Despite his brief absence, the Patriots had a fantastic season, winning the Super Bowl. And Tom Brady won his fifth Super Bowl.