Lawrence: Dream A Little Dream

The 2018 NFL season offers plenty of storylines – even if it has a tough act to follow

Amy Lawrence
September 05, 2018 - 5:35 pm

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The 2018 NFL season has quite an act to follow. We're talking about Shaq-sized shoes to fill (size 22 in case you're wondering). As we kick off a new year, the possibilities are endless; but it won't be easy to match last season's drama and excitement and finish with a similar Super Bowl crescendo.

The Philadelphia Eagles provided the climax to an incredible 2017 campaign! From the Philly special to a Gronk spike to multiple fourth-quarter lead changes to a strip sack to a last-ditch attempt knocked away at the goal line, what more could we ask for?? The "old guy" Tom Brady was the first to rack up 500 yards passing on this stage, but it was unlikely hero Nick Foles who earned MVP honors. The city of Philadelphia finally got to celebrate its first Super Bowl win in franchise history, while New England was left to contemplate the Malcolm Butler mystery.

It wasn't just the championship game, though. The postseason was jammed with jaw-dropping action and historic milestones. The Minneapolis Miracle felt more like the wicked twist at the end of a movie than a game-winning touchdown for the Vikings in front of their frenzied fans. The Jaguars might not be able to replicate their 45 points at Pittsburgh if they tried another 50 times. The Titans logged their first playoff win in 14 years but only after they rallied from 18 points down at the half in Kansas City.

The Bills hadn't reached the playoffs in this century, and they needed a myriad of dominoes to drop in Week 17. Their improbable entrance is the stuff dreams are made of. We all watched as Andy Dalton connected with Tyler Boyd for a long touchdown (on 4th down) in the last minute of the Bengals' shocker in Baltimore. When the Bills erupted in the visiting locker room in Miami, we celebrated, too. That pure, unadulterated joy was contagious! For years, we'll be sharing our "where were you when" stories of that moment in NFL history, one that ended a playoff drought stretching back 6,574 days.

Before we ever hit January, Case Keenum earned his stripes in Minnesota. Sean McVay and Wade Phillips revived the Rams. Jared Goff buried the "bust." The Saints gave Drew Brees a ground game to complement his air attack. Kareem Hunt dazzled, and Todd Gurley amazed. Keenan Allen found redemption, while Chandler Jones gave quarterbacks nightmares. The Bears handed their future to Mitch Tribusky, and the Niners pinned their hopes on Jimmy Garoppolo.

Seriously, how does the 2018 season top that?? Even as we contemplate the blank canvas of the next six months, the potential is blooming everywhere we look. For starters, some of the game's biggest stars are healthy again. Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Deshaun Watson, David Johnson, Dalvin Cook, Odell Beckham Jr., Tyler Eifert, J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus--the list goes on and on. Welcome back! Football wasn't the same without you. Coming soon, Carson Wentz will make his long-awaited return as quickly as doctors clear him, and Julian Edelman will get back on the field after a full season injured and an extra month suspended.

The NFL is full of new faces in new places after a dizzying offseason. The Vikings won the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes, and they were confident enough to give him a fully guaranteed contract. Alex Smith is the new QB in DC, Sam Bradford hits the reset button in Arizona, and Keenum earns the job in Denver. Jimmy Graham is Green Bay's newest weapon. Dion Lewis and Malcolm Butler both landed in Tennessee with Mike Vrabel, while Matt Patricia finally flew the coop to begin his head coaching career in Detroit. Tyrann Mathieu, Ndamukong Suh, Mo Wilkerson, and Nate Solder could all make a major impact with their new teams. And to top it off, Khalil Mack is Chicago's new superstar after a surprise trade by Jon Gruden in Oakland.

Rookie quarterbacks are all the rage, and we don't have to wait for Sam Darnold to take the field. The 21-year-old is the youngest opening day starter in the history of the league. Josh Allen may not be far behind in Buffalo; and after the Browns finally used their top draft pick on a QB, the clock is ticking for Baker Mayfield. Another rookie will be impossible to ignore. Despite having just one hand, Shaquem Griffin will start at linebacker for the Seahawks this Sunday (while twin brother Shaquill starts at corner). After overcoming every obstacle and staring down countless challenges, his inspiring story adds a new chapter!

Expectations naturally skyrocket in September, and the last six months set us up for what could be an epic encore. As we watch the opening credits roll on the new season, it's hard to imagine a sequel as good as last year's blockbuster. But the NFL always manages to surprise us somehow, so get ready...time to dream a little dream.

A well-traveled veteran of sports radio and television, Amy is the passionate host of CBS Sports Radio’s late-night program, After Hours with Amy Lawrence, from 2-6am ET on the nation’s largest 24/7 major-market radio network. Listeners can tune in from Canada and overseas, thanks to SiriusXM, cbssportsradio.com and the CBS Sports app. Amy has also handled basketball play-by-play and color duties for various radio and TV outlets over the past 15 years. Amy graduated from Messiah College with bachelor’s degrees in Communications & Accounting before earning her master’s in TV & Radio from Syracuse University. She is a native of Concord, NH.

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