Peyton Manning is retired. The New England Patriots and Tom Brady have just one dominating win in six games and are in a dogfight with the New York Jets. And now, Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has a broken collarbone.
You can see the next era of the NFL coming. Young QBs like Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson are already taking up the mantle spaces for superstardom. Young defensive athletes are already popping up all over the league. And you've got a new veteran class of QB Matt Ryan and OLB Von Miller and other ready to play foil to the youth around the league.
Head Coach Sean McVay has helped remake the league's worst offense in 2016 into something much, much more enjoyable in 2017, but just where is QB Jared Goff headed? Coming into the season, Goff was considered among the bottom of the QB ranks. He's likely now played his way into the middle of the pack with managers like Ryan, Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco and others. Without much need to change the offensive scheme right now, he'll likely need to continue to manage things effectively for the variety of the offensive depth chart to succeed. Coming off of last week's disappointing show, he'll certainly need to get on the better side of the 50% completion bar and avoid another performance of no touchdowns and two interceptions.
And what of the Rams' other young stars like RB Todd Gurley, DT Aaron Donald and others? Gurley's coming off of his worst performance of 2017 after a first month that had him in early MVP discussions. A bounceback game would be incredibly valuable as would the kind of game we've become accustomed to seeing from Donald. AD hasn't had a sack since Week 3 against the San Francisco 49ers.
The opponent today though represents the difficulty of assuming the Rams' trajectory continues upward uncontested.
The 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars are not the Jacksonville Jaguars of old. Built upon a defense of young stars like LB Myles Jack and CB Jalen Ramsey with a punishing running attack led by RB Leonard Fournette, the Jags have earned quite a bit of respect in getting to their 3-2 start quite decidedly in spite of their starting QB, Blake Bortles.
Today's a preview of sorts of an NFL to come. And perhaps what we'll learn is which team is closer to their future, more successively selves today.
There's a road ahead. Only one of these teams can take the first step. Who's ready to head out first?