It's time I answered my own questions
1) Which team(s) is/are just as lovable this season compared to their original season?
No doubt about it! Jet & Cord and Gary & Mallory...PERIOD... and also Margie & Luke, Jaime & Cara, and Mel & Mike.
Why Jet & Cord? Do I even need to explain? They are two awesome cowboys, I admire them so much and want to be like them. They are genuine, sincere, nice, polite (something kind of rare these days), and lovable. This season was no exception to their first, they are the same cowboys the world has grown to love.
Why Gary & Mallory? Do I even need to.... Ok, you get the point. There's something special about them, I didn't exactly have a loving family growing up, so it was nice to see that it actually exist. Gary is the perfect dad and Mallory is just a bumble of fun, what's great about Mallory is that even though she's a beauty queen and famous, it hasn't gone to her head like a lot of people. Just like the cowboys, they are both genuine, sincere, and real people, plus Mallory is hilarious!
Other teams I thought were just as lovable (but didn't get a whole lot of screen time this season):
Margie & Luke - Luke's an inspiration and a great stereotype-breaker (Being a mixed person, I deal with twice the amount of stereotypes so I hate them) and Margie is the perfect mom (kinda like Gary being the perfect dad, man I wish I had parents like that), plus she's freakin' bionic woman.
Jaime & Cara - "The redheads are back", she forgot it was the spicy redheads. The thing about Jaime and Cara is they compliment each other perfectly (they are complete opposites). Jaime is impatient, loud, slightly obnoxious, and xenophobic (of course) and doesn't mind belittling people while Cara is quiet, more patient (but with some impatient moments), lovable, sweet, and I don't recall her ever shouting to a cab driver or local for not being able to understand English. What's extremely ironic is that even though it's so clear that these women are complete opposites, they look almost completely identical. Although after watching every episodes of season 14 and 18 with the "spicy redheads", I can now easily tell them apart.
Mel & Mike - Poor, poor Mel & Mike. They only lasted 3 legs (or 2 if you count the first superleg as only one leg). But they're just the same, a father and son team that sticks together no matter what. Again, it's the whole family thing that gets to me.
2) Which team(s) seemed different?
Kent & Vyxsin, Ron & Christina, Zev & Justin, and Kisha & Jen
I'm not ashamed to say I pretty much WORSHIPPED Kent & Vyxsin in their first season because they were the ultimate stereotype-breaker, and they were funny too. It's interesting to see a dating team where the genders seemed to have been switched, it's clear that Vyxsin should have been the male and Kent should have been the female. That's just hilarious (Kent being dragged in a luggage cart by Vyxsin? Priceless). So why are they different? Well not only aren't they as strong as in their first season but they now fight more. It's not exactly a bad thing because a bit of fighting in a relationship is a good thing and helps relationships to grow (don't tell me you weren't touched watching Vyxsin cry in the car in Japan, telling Kent how much she loved him and how special he was to her). There's no denying that Kent & Vyxsin aren't the same as before, but I have no doubt that they will stay together. Who knows? I think I hear wedding bells in the future, and yes, I'm serious.
Ron & Christina, they were very difficult to place on this list. Why? Because, technically, they managed to be the same team we remember, yet still different. Confused? Let me explain... when I used the word "they", I'm referring to Ron. Christina is the same, but Ron is a special case. He was different in the first half and the second half of his season. In the first half, he was a grumpy dad who nagged a lot and belittled his daughter and in the second half, he was a changed man. In the seven episodes of this season he was in, he was right in the middle of these two different Ron's, he still nagged a lot but nowhere to the extent of the first half of their original season (remember the bike detour?) so it's like he is being both the first half Ron and the second half Ron in the course of this season. One thing that's the same about Ron is his deadpan humor, and as much as we hate him for his attitude, he's one funny guy.
Another team I had difficulty placing is Zev & Justin, I mean they're obviously the same regular friends viewers loved, but the difference in their performance is mind blowing. It was tough deciding whether I should judge them as being different or the same for their performance or for their personalities, one would say that it should be for their personalities. I agree, but Zev & Justin's performance difference is too big and overwhelming to ignore and slightly inches out over their personality (even though we love 'em). They went from lasting only 4 legs (not winning any of them), losing their passports, and being eliminated in 9th place to winning a staggering 4 legs against really strong returning teams, that says a lot.
Kisha & Jen, This one's going to be short. What's different about them? Well, maybe the fact that they're still lovable, but not nearly as memorable as in their first season. This is most likely due to them not getting a lot of airtime and no more shoving matches at the clue box, but I don't really care that much about this team anymore. No, I wouldn't mind at all seeing them win, but I would prefer they start becoming more interesting as the race nears it's end.
3) Which team(s) do you absolutely not recognize?
Amanda & Kris and Flight Time & Big Easy
I don't particularly hate Amanda & Kris, they seem like two very nice people, but I just don't like this team. It's a cliche of society, the tall, strong, muscular guy with the short, blonde girl, and reading this article, you know how much I don't like stereotypes, and this falls under the couple stereotype. Oh well, they were boring and pretty invisible in their first season as well as this season, thank god they were quickly gone.
Flight Time & Big Easy... where do I even being? I can't stand this team, they are the typical alpha male, air-headed team. Why did I put them under the "absolutely not recognize" section? because, believe it or not, I actually loved them in their first season. Sure they were still the alpha male team and slightly air-headed, but they were funny and fun-loving. What happened to them? They were actually pretty funny in some moments of the early episodes (like the 6th leg, "Run!Run!Sign in!Sign in!", that was funny) but they've changed. They're no longer fun to watch and probably won't be for the rest of the season, but let's hope I'm wrong.
I hope you've enjoyed my extremely long answers about what I personally think of each team. Remember, this is just my opinion, don't take it too seriously.