The NFL preseason is nearly upon us, and there's a lot of unanswered questions. I've taken the liberty of picking out the best, most provocative queries for you to ponder as you wait out the last few weeks until preseason games get under way.
Is Tom Brady good enough to get the Patriots back into contention?
The Patriots' proverbial window is closing — quickly too. The offense in particular looks nothing like the units the Patriots won Super Bowls with, putting all the pressure of winning on Tom Brady. If the Patriots somehow found a way to win a Super Bowl this time around, we would have to think long and hard about Brady as the greatest quarterback ever.
Which hot seat coaches will lose their job?
There's a number of head coaches that are entering the season with de-facto ultimatums in place, even if those "do or else" statements were never actually said. Rex Ryan, Mike Munchak, Jim Schwartz, and a handful more absolutely must make their way to the playoffs.
Who's the Cinderella team going to be?
Every year, or at least nearly every year, a team that was dismissed in the preseason finds its way into the playoffs. Last year, the Colts and Vikings split that role. This year, no team jumps out as that under-the-radar pick, but with some development, some bottom feeders may make their way to the top of the standings.
What team falls flat?
As with Cinderella teams, there's always a team that completely underwhelms everyone. Last year, the Chiefs were expected to do big things, even compete for an AFC West title, but instead they were making the first overall selection in the NFL draft. My thoughts are that the Ravens and Patriots could be in trouble in a similar, but certainly not as extreme, way.
Is there a sophomore slump for last year's quarterback class in-store?
Last year's quarterback class was one of the best groups of young guns we've seen in a very long time. Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck were all blockbuster picks. With the weight of their respective franchises on their shoulders, how will they handle their second season at the professional level? Something tells me that Wilson and Luck may have a rough go of it. Griffin, on the other hand, may be able to maintain his rookie stats.
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Fair enough, but the D still sucks now. It's not a championship D which is what they used to have and they don't have a runner like Corey Dillon
I didn't say he was bad, I said the running game isn't what it once was when the Pats were winning Super Bowls.
@Avbanig But Antowain Smith ran for 1157 yards and 12 TDs in the Patriots run to Super Bowl 36. He never even got close to 1000 yards after that. Fortunately, the Patriots picked up Corey Dillon for the run to Super Bowl 39, a move that may have been their saving grace that year (1657 yards but still only 12 Tds). That might be the best running game they had since Curtis Martin, and clearly possible for Ridley to better those numbers in 2013.
I think I was since they last won a Super Bowl their running game hasn't been the same and in 2001 Smith shared the duties with Faulk & Redmon who had nearly 300 YDs
Danny Woodhead 301 yds. 4 TD Shane Vereen 251 yds. 3 TD
Brandon Bolden 274 yds. 2 TD
The problem with the Patriots isn't the passing offense, it's other parts of the team. Tom IMO is the best Qb in the league and he will succeed as long as he gets protected (the guys never been hit much) and his wrs can get open and catch, he's proven that throughout his career.
The problem is that it's a team game and the Patriots running game isn't what it once was, their defense isn't close to as good as when they won it last and had players like Vrabel, Bruschi, Milloy, Law, Seymour and Samuel and their return game hasn't been the same since the days of Troy brown.
So yeah, they will win their cup cake division and at most have 4 losses and probably get a home playoff game or 2, but unless their D and running game do a 180 this year, I don't see them winning it all.
I would like to mention not having Hernandez and Gronk (for some of the year) will hurt, Welker gone will hurt, but Amendola, Edleman and Ballard are certainly capable of being good recieving weapons in the NFL. Michael Jenkins, Donald Jones can possibly be decent and Dobson and Boyce have a lot of talent as rookies.
That being said, Patriot fans can not just chalk this off as Tom will fix everything this year because I believe there are too many problems to overcome
@Avbanig 1263 yards and 12 touchdowns is bad? Ridley was 7th last year and that was his first full year as the feature back! But I agree on the D. With a few nice additions I see that improving this year as well. I think they will be the surprise in the AFC.
Luck has his best WR getting old, his #2 is gone and replaced by hey-bey who's always been an enigma and his offensive coordinator is gone who was not only responsible for getting Luck ready, but did a lot to make Roethlisberger the great passer he is today.
I guess I agree with you about Wilson but something just tells me the Seahawks are going to have a down year
Brady's top receivers in the super bowls they DID win:
Super Bowl 36: Troy Brown, JR Redmond, Kevin Faulk
Super Bowl 38: Deion Branch (rookie season), Brown, David Givens
Super Bowl 39: Deion Branch (MVP), Corey Dillon, Givens
I think this years receiving corps looks a LOT like the units that won the Super Bowls. You media types always forget that the Pats teams that won SB's were a group of no-name stars playing as a team, while the Pats who LOST SB's were the star-studded rosters with Moss, Welker, Gronk, etc.
I think the N.E.Patriots and poor old dad, Thomas Brady, will do just fine digging through the scraps of free agency to find someone to throw to. Welker was good, not a Randy Moss, will be missed. I guess they had a player that never missed who hurt the team and his whole heritage more than anyone would have expected. It is Boston, New England, the people that brought you a revolution in 1776. We haven't lost since in the big picture. We have the best owner, coach and team, we will do fine. Where is the Super Bowl this year, I hope it isn't too hot.
Good luck to all those who got hurt last year around the league, come back strong and put on a good show for the world.