Football season is back with NFL, AFC, NFC and more

(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

The wait is finally over.

With the NFL season commencing this week, people nationwide will see the return of tailgating, fantasy football and games from afternoon to night every Sunday.

Of course, with 267 games from September to February, cheering on a favorite team can seem like a daunting task. There are numerous storylines that have fans waiting on the edges of their seats to see how the games will play out.

Plenty of teams have an excellent shot at the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and it is anyone’s guess who will come out on top.

NFC

As things look right now, there will be some familiar faces battling for the National Football Conference Championship.

In the NFC East, the New York Giants have a new coach, the PhilidelphiaEagles just named a rookie their starting quarterback and the Cowboys have to hope either rookie quarterback Dak Prescott or former Denver Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez can spell the seemingly perpetually injured quarterback Tony Romo.

However, the Washington Redskins offseason signing of Josh Norman, one of the best cornerbacks in the league and this past off-season’s hottest free agent, coupled with the rise of quarterback Kirk Cousins should have the Redskins repeat as division champs for the first time since 1984.

The defending NFC North champion Minnesota Vikings seemed ready to contend again before quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice. Thus, the Green Bay Packers are poised to return to the top. Star quarterback Aaron Rodgers should be back in his element, as the Packers’ top receiver Jordy Nelson returns from injury.

The Carolina Panthers look to improve on their Super Bowl runner-up performance heading into the 2016 season. Cam Newton will look to build on his Most Valuable Player performance, as the Panthers skill on both offense and defense make them a tough team to beat and one of the NFC favorites again.

Out in the NFC West, the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks are Super Bowl contenders once again with high-flying offenses and stifling defenses. Both teams have the potential to be Super Bowl contenders, and viewers will be dazzled by Arizona’s strong receiving corps and Seattle’s search for a running back to replace retired star Marshawn Lynch.

AFC

The biggest storyline in the American Football Conference this offseason put an annual AFC favorite in the negative spotlight once again.

But year after year, the New England Patriots seem to overcome whatever scandal is in front of them. Though he will miss the first four games, quarterback Tom Brady has taught us over the years to never bet against him or head coach Bill Belichick.

The Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North make for a competitive matchup. These teams clash often in thrilling games. While the Bengals have come out on top in the division in recent years, Steelers star receiver Antonio Brown and Bengals QB Andy Dalton make the teams strong playoff contenders.

Defensive stalwart J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans, led by new quarterback Brock Osweiler, will try to make an impact in the AFC South in what is widely considered a retooling year.

But any team with Watt is going to cause trouble for opposing offenses, as the Texans will look to repeat as AFC South champs.

The defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos and their strong defense, led by linebacker and Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller, will try to defend their division title and be the first repeat Super Bowl champs since the Patriots over a decade ago.

Even after the retirement of quarterback Peyton Manning, the Broncos defense will try and lead them once again to the top.

Super Bowl Prediction

The AFC is weaker this year in comparison to the stout NFC, and the Patriots are usually dominant. A team like the Steelers could challenge the Patriots, but they have to stay healthy, and that has always been a problem for them.

It is hard to find a better coach-QB duo than the Patriot’s Belichick and Brady. If it comes down to a close game, kicker Stephen Gostkowski is nearly flawless in clutch situations.

In the NFC, things are much tighter.

The Packers and the Seahawks will look to get back to their winning ways, and the Panthers came just one win short last season.

However, the team that should come out of the NFC is dominant on both sides of the ball and is led by a quarterback that is a much more accurate passer than Carolina’s Cam Newton.

Arizona’s offense and defense is one of the best in the league. Quarterback Carson Palmer will lead second-year running back David Johnson and veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald past any NFC team in their way.

In the Super Bowl, Arizona should find a way to exploit key Patriot departures on defense for the title.

2016 Guilfordian Super Bowl Prediction: Arizona over New England.