To an NFL fan, every second of the NFL season is must-watch content. Football’s regular season is less than 10 percent as long as baseball’s and less than 20 percent as long as basketball’s and hockey’s, meaning there is significantly less NFL to consume than MLB, NBA, or NHL. Throw in the fact that none of those other sports involve tackling, blocking, or Marshawn Lynch, and you have a league that must be paid attention to every single Sunday during the season.
With that being said, there are certain players in the must-watch sport of football that are particularly can’t-miss. These are the guys that viewer’s eyes are drawn to when the games are on — maybe because they are the best in the league, maybe because they are new and intriguing, or maybe because they are liable to do something hilariously bad. But no matter the reason, they are the names that attract fans the most, and help make football the best sport in the world.
So to prepare you for the upcoming season that is now just days away, here is my “Can’t-Miss Team of 2015.” When you plop down on the couch each Sunday, these guys are the ones most worth watching.
Odell Beckham Jr.: No one player in football is more likely to break Twitter because of something he does on the field. When he made the catch against the Cowboys — you know, that one — old people who had no idea what Twitter was created an account just so they could talk about it. But he wasn’t just a one-crazy-catch-pony as a rookie last year: Beckham Jr. had 1,305 receiving yards in 2014 in just 12 games, a number that makes my brain hurt. I don’t see him being affected by the “Madden curse,” I don’t see him having a sophomore slump, and I don’t see him disappointing as a second-year player at all. He is impossible to cover, is better at catching passes with one hand than most guys are with two, and does really cool dances after scoring touchdowns. ODB is the captain of my “Can’t-Miss Team.”
J.J. Watt: Another obvious choice. For those of you who’ve made the smart decision of following HBO’s “Hard Knocks” this offseason, you’ve been able to confirm the suspicions we’ve all had for a while: J.J. Watt is the human race’s greatest creation. He is, in my opinion, the best human ever. Seriously, I can’t stress this enough: If the human race had to select one person to save the world from extinction, I would vote for Watt. I’ve watched “Hard Knocks” religiously, and now I know he runs late-night wind sprints at full speed, he is an incredible trash talker , he can catch passes off of a JUGGS machine while standing 36 inches away and he absolutely, positively cannot be stopped. Last year, he almost won the MVP award, had 20.5 sacks, and caught three touchdowns. This guy is a beast. I am dying to see what he does in 2015, and you should be, too.
Jay Cutler: Let me have Grantland.com writer Andrew Sharp explain why he put Cutler on his list of most interesting quarterbacks to watch , and it’ll basically show you why he makes my “Can’t-Miss Team,” too:
I just Googled Jay Cutler’s middle name, and sadly, it’s Christopher, and not “IDGAF.” That would be more fitting for a man who throws off his back foot constantly and pouts like a kid whose parents won’t get him a $10 bag of popcorn at the movies. I love watching Jay Cutler screw up. I would hate to miss the next great Jay Cutler screw up. That’s why he’s on this roster — no NFL player has better gaffes than Chicago’s signal caller.
Eric Berry: Berry recently got cleared by doctors to resume football activities after a fight with cancer. Nothing else needs to be said; everyone will be pulling for him, and though he has already won a far more important battle, watching him come back and try to restart his NFL career will be equal parts scintillating and inspiring.
Leonard Williams: The Jets’ 2015 first-round draft pick looks like he could be the NFL’s next dominant defender. If you need proof, look no further than his performance against the Falcons, where he notched 1.5 sacks and a safety. But sure, I get it, you may not be impressed because that was only preseason. Well, just wait — the 6’5”, 290-pound defensive lineman is going to wreak havoc on opposing offenses in the regular season, too. In the end, I see the five teams who passed on him in the draft regretting it, and the 26 other teams who missed out on him being very sad as well. And did I mention his hair? Williams is going to be a stud for a long time, so don’t miss his debut campaign. It’s going to be the start of something special.
Column: Todd Bowles on first-round pick Leonard Williams: He won't talk or boast. He'll just knock your head off. nyjhttp://t.co/FjF7NtzSR5
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) September 4, 2015
Jason Pierre-Paul: Anyone who has to amputate a finger after a fireworks accident and is going to try to play football just a few months after said accident is worth monitoring.
DeSean Jackson: DeSean Jackson is not the most consistent receiver in the NFL, he is certainly not the biggest receiver in the NFL, and he is definitely not the best receiver in the NFL — well, according to anyone besides him, that is. But he is among football’s most explosive players, someone who is as entertaining after the whistle as he is between it. And there is a chance that he just loses his mind this season (his second with the Redskins, which is more than enough time for someone to go crazy) and tears Washington’s locker room apart. There’s nary a deep threat in the league better than DJax, and he can haul in a 60-yarder on any snap. But if the balls aren’t coming his way this season, fret not; it may cause Jackson to go off — and not in the statistical sense — which would be equally as awesome as him catching long TDs.
Tom Brady: He is going to be so angry this year. He is going to try to singlehandedly destroy the entire league this year one pass at a time. And I am going to love every minute of it. Also, watching Brady means you may get a glimpse of Gisele, and that’s never a bad thing.
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