Here are some of the storylines that have our attention as the 2012 NFL season begins:
Peyton Manning — Perhaps this is the first time in NFL history that fans and teams alike are eagerly waiting to see a quarterback get hit. Everyone wants to know if he can take it. And also whether he will be the Peyton of old or something close to it or will the 3 neck surgeries put him closer to the QB retirement farm where by the way, he will get a warm welcome from Brett Favre.
Jets Jets Jets — This has so many storylines on so many levels – all of them having the potential to be very, very bad. The upside: The Jets could be a very dynamic defensive team with an effective running/wildcat/spread option game. Or the Jets could be this season’s joke. I’m going for somewhere in between. I see the potential for a good team, but it may take some time to develop the chemistry and talent needed to pull it off. Bottom line, do not sleep on this team.
5 rookie Quarterback Starters — Andrew Luck (Colts), Robert Griffin III (Redskins), Brandon Weeden (Browns), Ryan Tannehill (Dolphins) and Russell Wilson (Seahawks). Teams are now more than ever willing to put the futures of their franchises in rookie quarterbacks’ hands. It will be fascinating to see how it all unfolds and see which rookie QB will excel or fail.
Giants — Can they repeat? That is the question. Now more seasoned and confident, I think they will make a good run at it again. Eli and the boys in Blue just seem to get it done when all the marbles are on the line.
Andy Reid/Philadelphia Eagles — Owner Jeff Lurie has let coach Reid know that there’s no such thing as an automatic lifetime gig in Philly. I think this puts the Eagles in desperation mode. On paper, this looks like the team to beat in the NFC East. It’s what the Eagles do this year off the paper and on the field that may seal Andy Reid’s fate.
Cowboys — Another team in desperation mode as owner Jerry Jones has put the team on notice that ‘time is running out.’ Can the Cowboys live up to their talent-rich potential or will Jerry Jones at the end of the year look at his billion dollar playpen and wonder why the H*** did I build this?
Chargers — I think another team in desperation mode though the owner hasn’t publicly gone on record with ultimatums. But everyone knows the Chargers have underperformed the last couple of years and now have also lost some key personnel. Can Philip Rivers lead his band of brothers to a great start, middle, and end? And if not, will Norv Turner get unplugged?
Falcons — Okay, Matt, waiting on some postseason magic. That is all…
Ravens/Steelers defense — Scuttlebutt on the street is that both these defenses are at or past their prime. Will either or both teams prove the scuttlebutters wrong? I for one can’t wait for them to do just that.
Steelers Offense — What will the dynamic be between new offensive coordinator Todd Haley and the team’s offensive players, especially quarterback Ben Roethlisberger? I for one am waiting on the pyrotechnics to start between Big Ben and the man who would be king.
Undefeated Team?? — Can any team run the table this year? I think we’re at least in store for a couple of 14-2’s.
The mystery sleeper team — Every year at least one team pops out of nowhere and lights up the league. Last year, it was the 49ers, the year before, it was the Chiefs. Possible candidates for mystery sleeper team this year: Titans, Seahawks, Chiefs again, Bucs, Cardinals (cough cough), Raiders and here’s my bold/out on a limb pick: the Rams. Hey, it could happen.
REPLACEMENT REFS — I can’t even talk about this – just 4 words: How long? Why? Stop!