Neil Reynolds gives his top 5 things to watch in the 2019 NFL season

Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs

The 2019 NFL season is so nearly upon us!

Fans of the sport can rejoice because tomorrow is the day that the new season gets underway.

The action gets underway at Soldier Field with the Chicago Bears hosting the Green Bay Packers

There are many storylines to follow in the 100th season. Can the New England Patriots, without All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, defend their Super Bowl title? Is this the year that the Cleveland Browns shock the world?

Those questions and more have been explored by Sky Sports presenter Neil Reynolds, who has picked five things to watch this season.

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Will the Patriots defend their crown?

Everyone keeps waiting for the downturn from a New England Patriots team that has reached the last three Super Bowls.

There has been plenty of change during the offseason, most notably the retirement of superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski.

But as long as 42-year-old quarterback Tom Brady continues to hold Father Time at bay and head coach Bill Belichick is at the helm, the Patriots always have a chance to win it all.

That pairing has produced six Super Bowl victories and this team knows what it takes to win. They will be in the mix once again in 2019.

New York Giants v New England Patriots

How will the Colts cope without star quarterback Andrew Luck?

Four-time Pro Bowl all-star Andrew Luck shocked the football world – and his own team – by retiring just two weeks before the first Sunday of the new campaign.

Luck was a genuine superstar who offered Super Bowl hope to the Indianapolis Colts.

But he was worn down by a plague of injuries in recent seasons and walked away from a team that made the playoffs last year.

The Colts now turn to Jacoby Brissett, who is 5-12 as an NFL starter. Head coach Frank Reich insists the Colts are “in good hands” with Brissett at the helm. Only time will tell.

Chicago Bears v Indianapolis Colts

The awakening of the Browns

The Cleveland Browns have long been the punchline of many an NFL joke with their stadium being dubbed ‘The Factory of Sadness.’

The Browns have not enjoyed a winning season since 2007 and have not made the playoffs since 2002.

But after going winless in 2017, the long-downtrodden Browns showed signs of life by winning seven games under rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield in 2018.

The offseason addition of superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has Cleveland’s passionate fans dreaming of Super Bowl glory.

Succeed or fail, the Browns are going to be one of the biggest stories of the 2019 season.

Atlanta Falcons v Cleveland Browns

Famous faces in new places

Every NFL offseason sees prominent players move teams but 2019 proved to be off the charts in terms of big-name transactions.

The Pittsburgh Steelers parted company with disgruntled superstars in receiver Antonio Brown, who joined the Oakland Raiders, and running back Le’Veon Bell, who inked a deal with the New York Jets.

How will those stars fare in new surroundings and can the Steelers survive without them?

Super Bowl-winning quarterback Nick Foles has moved from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Jacksonville Jaguars, while the aforementioned Odell Beckham Jr. was traded from the New York Giants to the Cleveland Browns in a stunning offseason.

Oakland Raiders v Arizona Cardinals

Mahomes ready for a repeat act?

The most exciting player in the NFL today remains Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

The 2018 NFL Most Valuable Player will be keen to show the world that his first full season as a starter was no fluke.

Mahomes threw for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns last term and now we await the repeat performance. Mahomes is truly special and can do it all.

Guided by the excellent play-calling of head coach Andy Reid, Mahomes and the explosive Chiefs will look to go one step further in 2019 after falling at the Super Bowl semi-final stage a year ago.

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