Ten pressing questions for the 2015 NFL season

NFL_Crystal_BallIf we had a crystal ball to tell us what’s going to happen this NFL season, we’d all be millionaires.  Unfortunately, Lady Cleo and Dionne Warwick have cornered the market on clairvoyance so you and I are going to have to rely on our educated guesses.

Below I’ve listed what in my mind are ten of the most intriguing storylines of the upcoming NFL season.

 

Jimmy GrahamJimmy Graham to Seattle

Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks was one of the more notable off-season transactions to come across the wire.  And we didn’t even have to wait long for it.  It was as if Seattle was so pissed about losing the Super Bowl in the manner they did, they wanted to get better instantly.  By adding Graham, they did just that.  Just when we thought the Seahawks couldn’t get any stronger, they landed the second best tight end in the league.  Meanwhile, New Orleans laments.  Graham was one of Drew Brees’ favorite targets in New Orleans which leaves us wondering how many chances Graham will get in the less, pass-happy Seattle offense and how Brees will manage to amass another 5,000 passing yards with his biggest target playing for another team.

 

DeMarcoCowboys Offensive Line and DeMarco Murray to the Eagles

I love questions like this, the unquantifiable kind.  All last season, we talked about the cohesiveness of the Cowboys’ offensive line.  Did DeMarco Murray lead the league in rushing because he was that good or was it because he ran the ball behind the game’s best O-line?  How much was a combination of the two?  Well, we’re about to find out.  DeMarco Murray is now a Philadelphia Eagle, where he’ll likely be relied upon more than he was in Dallas.  Meanwhile, back in the big D, the Cowboys will resort to running back by committee which includes Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar.  None of those guys are DeMarco Murray.  We’ll soon see how much that matters.

 

PeytonHow far shut is Peyton Manning’s window?

When Peyton Manning first joined sides with the Mile High John Elway brain trust, most of us assumed it was only a matter of time before he was fitted for his second Super Bowl ring.  That hasn’t happened yet.  We also knew he didn’t have much time to make that happen.  One can’t help but think that window is even more closed as Manning is now 39 years old.  Peyton should still put up gaudy numbers on his way to the playoffs but it’s his post-season success that always comes into question which is why the Denver Broncos are no longer such a heavy favorite to reach the Bowl.

 

Tebow ManzielWill Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel play and if so, how much?

Come on, no NFL season preview would be complete without wasting time talking about the two cults of personality, Timothy Richard Tebow and Jonathan Paul Manziel.  In fact, my website traffic just skyrocketed at the mere mention of their names.  If I set the over/under of their combined touchdown passes at 5 ½, would you take it and how many of you would jump on the under before I had to adjust the line?  While the successes, failures and clipboard holding techniques of these two former Heisman heroes makes for trivial conversation, the fact is that their games are increasingly ill-suited for the NFL lifestyle.  Only their images are.

 

Winston MariotaJameis Winston vs Marcus Mariota

Let us not forget the biggest draft debate between these two rookies was based as much on character as it was talent, with Winston considered more of the potential trouble-maker compared to the squeaky clean Mariota.  Both are going to make mistakes this year and both will have moments that make us turn our heads.  But which of the two will win more ballgames and which will become the better leader?  This question likely won’t be answered this year nor will the more intriguing question which is… if Tennessee had the number one pick, would they have drafted Jameis Winston?

 

BradyWhat will the Patriots’ record be without Tom Brady and will his absence allow another AFC East team to challenge their recent dominance?

DeflateGate is the soap opera we all wish would go away.  It wouldn’t surprise me to see Susan Lucci at the next hearing.  As it currently stands, Tom Brady is taking the league to court, insisting upon his innocence and that his four-game suspension is excessive if not unwarranted.  If only we could put both parties on Judge Brown, the whole damn thing would be over in thirty minutes.  As the season approaches, it looks more like Jimmy “Don’t Call Me Janeane” Garoppolo will start in Brady’s absence, meaning that even with Belichick calling the shots, New England’s record over the first four games will not be as good as it could have been with Brady starting.  Even when he does come back, he won’t be in early to mid-season form.  So how will this all play out?  The Pats will likely still make the playoffs but will this suspension end up costing them a playoff home game down the road and will that cost them another trip to the Super Bowl?

 

ADHow will Adrian Peterson do?

All off-season, we wondered where Adrian Peterson would play or if he would ever play again.  Minnesota didn’t want him then they did.  Adrian didn’t want to play there then he did.  A lack of options makes for strange bedfellows.  Peterson went from being hands down the best running back in the league to persona non grata all because of a tree branch and some bad parenting.  This year, he’s back with something to prove, however, he is thirty years old, the age at which league backs begin to see a sharp decline in productivity.  If there’s anyone with the motivation to clear his name and prove he can still be a force in this league, it’s Adrian Peterson.  In fact, Las Vegas lists him as the favorite to lead the league in rushing.  I’m not too sure that’s a bet I’d be willing to make.

 

CutleryCan the Bears possibly be that bad again?

If you watched any football last season in the company of a Bears fan, you probably experienced as much exasperation and frustration as humanly possible.  Last year’s Bears were inexplicably bad.  I know, I know, most of you will try to explain how bad they were with two simple words: Jay Cutler.  But keep in mind, the Bears allowed the second most points per game last season and ranked 30th in passing yards allowed.  Sorry for bringing up that old shit, Bears fans.  The good news is you start 2015 with a clean slate and still have Matt Forte so things can’t possibly be as bad as they were last year.  Can they?

 

AaronHow pissed off are the Packers and can they carry that through a full season?

When we last saw the Green Bay Packers, they were busy coughing up a 12-point, fourth quarter lead to the eventual NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks.  Packers fans were so pissed they were calling for their head coach’s head.  Newsflash, Mike McCarthy is still coaching that team, Aaron Rodgers is still their quarterback and the Packers are projected to win eleven games this season.  If you think they’re still bitter about the way last season ended, betting that over might be a safe play.

 

Andrew LuckHow good can the Colts be?

I look at the Colts over/under of 10 ½ and think that might be the easiest money to be made all season.  We might be on the dawn of a new era.  These Colts look scary good, at least on paper they do.  We all knew Andrew Luck was the second coming but he’s even exceeding those expectations.  And don’t think they’re not pissed off about Tom Brady’s balls.  No, not those balls, the ones he (allegedly) deflated in the game against the Colts to (allegedly) give them a distinct advantage in that all too realistic 45-7 beat down of an AFC Championship Game.  That game reminded us just how far the Colts have to go if they want to become the best team in the league.  To be the best, you have to beat the best.  This year should provide them one giant step closer.  Adding Frank Gore and Andre Johnson to this roster just seems unfair.

19 thoughts on “Ten pressing questions for the 2015 NFL season

  1. Not particularly a Dolphins fan, but I wonder if they couldn’t sneak up on the Pats and make a run. I know the Bills are stacked but have no QB. Jets – forget it. Plus, if the Dolphins got some more facetime I could get more looks at Tannehill’s wife.

  2. 1. I think Graham was nicked up his last couple of seasons in New Orleans but you still had to be wary of him. Regardless of stats I feel Brees is on the decline and Graham’s move is a bigger hit to the Saints than a revelation for Seattle. Graham is a nice piece to add for the Seahawks…especially if they plan to throw again at the goal line at the end of the Super Bowl.
    2. Ironically we are getting the impression here in Philly Murray is just a piece and not the whole pie. The buzz is Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproules are going to be on the field just as much…that is, if Ryan can stay healthy and Darren doesn’t go “missing” as he did at the end of last season. Chip Kelly sent some solid OL personnel packing and their front is now a huge question mark for both pass and run. I do think it matters who runs behind that line in Dallas and that stable of RB’s doesn’t wow me at all. Tony Romo will have to make things happen big-time.
    3. I bet against Peyton a couple years back and looked like a moron. So I can’t go there. However, Denver’s O-Line has more questions than Philadelphia’s and that’s a huge problem for Manning going forward. That line is also learning a new scheme…new head coach, etc. Duck, Peyton. Duck.
    4. I’ll take the over on Tebow and Manziel’s combined TD passes line. I think they will all be from Manziel but both will stick in the NFL this season.
    5. Winston looked lost in his first pre-season game and I read Mariota was apparently much the same. I think they will both struggle but I believe Jameis has more weapons and will have better numbers…and wins. I am not sure if the Titans would have gone with Winston #1 however. (I do know Chip Kelly wouldn’t have…heh, heh)
    6. Tom Brady will come back bitter and angry and determined to take out the entire league. That’s bad news for Pats’ opponents. He’ll be fine, they’ll be fine…and playing in the snow and cold of New England come January.
    7. Adrian Peterson will come back bitter and angry and determined to take out the entire league. That’s bad news for Vikings’ opponents. He’ll be fine…and Minnesota may be the sleeper team in the NFC.
    8. The Bears can be that bad again and will be. Jay Cutler should head for the exercise bike now.
    9. I would take the over on Green Bay winning eleven games. That fourth quarter indeed had to sting all off-season and I’m betting everyone will be dialed in and focused.
    10. The Colts will benefit from their division as well. I believe Gore and Johnson still have some gas left in their tanks. Indy also picked up two former Eagles from Chip Kelly’s scorched earth purge of Andy Reid’s starters…OL Todd Herremans and LB Trent Cole. The 10 1/2 over/under for wins indeed looks to be very conservative.

  3. Well, hopefully the preseason won’t be a precursor of what we’re likely to see in the regular season. Tim Tebow is already proving his game still isn’t suitable for the NFL . Jameis Winston is proving that even with a preseason schedule to get himself in sync he is nowhere near being ready for the NFL . Stevie Wonder knows this and so do the members of NFB (National Federation for The Blind). About the only people who don’t seem to be aware of this, are the Buccaneers’ coaching staff and some of the fans of the franchise.

    The Patriots are likely to decline and at the same time, the Tom Brady Roger Goodell idiocy will continue to drag the league further into the depths of stupidity.

    The NFL can’t withstand all of the negatives and still expect to come out ahead in spite of them still making money. They’ve reached saturation point on the North American landscape and the only place for growth is overseas and if they can’t get their #hit together there, they will fail just as they did with the NFL Europe.

    The Colts will run away with the AFC South, as they’re the only credible team in the division.

    Jim Tomsula and the Niners will be in for a tough time in the NFC West, as I believe that is likely to be the most competitive division in the NFL this season. The Cardinals , Rams are likely to make things tough for the Seahawks.

    Peterson and the Vikings will only be as good as the confidence shown by Teddy Bridgewater.

    Unless the Eagles show they can actually play defense then look for them to fall off the face of the NFL landscape. Chip Kelly is a good coach, but not a great head coach. He still believes he is coaching in the PAC-12 and that is the real problem concerning the franchise.

    Jason Day was spectacular in the PGA Championship . Had Jordan Spieth played a little better in the third and final round , he would have won his third Major of the season.

    Do the Rays actually know what the word winning means , much less know how to accomplish getting a victory in baseball nowadays ? These and more are some of the questions that need to be asked ?

    Does Caitlyn Jenner stand up while using a public restroom for a certain bodily function ?

    And if Floyd Maweather doesn’t want to stare down Ronda Rousey does that mean Justin Bieber will try and make an @ss of himself by tweeting a selfie of him and Money ” spooning ” each other in an octagon ?

    Tophatal ………

  4. I suppose it’s possible, Moose.

    The Pats have owned that division for so long with the other teams only taking incremental steps.

    This could be the year that either Miami or Buffalo (I agree with you, not the Jets) at least take advantage of the head start they’re about to get without Brady in the lineup.

  5. Burnsy…

    Graham has, get this, 99, 85, 85 and 85 receptions the last four years. No way he comes close to that many this year, right?

    On a related note, the Cowboys gave Murray the ball 392 times last year. Needless to say, that led the league. How many carries will he get this year? I’m thinking somewhat somewhere close to that but not possibly that many. He also averaged 4.7 yards per carry. Guessing he doesn’t get that this year.

    I’m with you on Manning. Betting against him is never smart. He still threw for 300 yards a game last season and that only looked bad because the year before he put up Tecmo Bowl numbers. 300/game is far more what he’s accustomed to putting up.

    Taking the over on Manziel/Tebow touchdown passes = drinking the Kool-Aid. You’re on.

    I’m giving you the opportunity to build your team around either Winston or Mariota. Heck, I’ll even throw in Tebow and Manziel for good measure. Who you taking?

    Re: Brady and the Pats, I’m inclined to believe you’re right.

    Minnesota? Sleeper team? I’m gonna try to remember you said that.

    Bears that bad again? The cholesterol level of the city of Chicago is already high enough, don’t you think? Dit-ka.

    And I’m with you on taking both the Pack and the Colts over. Those two teams are gonna be really good.

  6. Fair question about Suh in Miami, Conrad. He can’t do anything but help that D.

    The fish allowed over 23 points per game last year. I suspect that number will go down to more respectable levels with him wreaking havoc in South Florida.

  7. Chris, agreed J-Graham doesn’t even sniff that number of receptions in Seattle. I figure Murray only gets about 275 carries in Philly and his average will be about 3 yards per. Hell, he has barely been on the field yet up here and, as warned, that O-line needs to mesh. I would definitely take Winston to build around among the folks you listed. You can note me on that Minnesota remark. I think they will be the NFC sleeper. I also saw a couple readers mention Miami. I do think they are the AFC sleeper.

  8. I’m not so certain I see the Tebow/Manziel story line as a pressing question as it being morbid curiosity. A contender to replace it might be “Which NFL starter will be brought up on charges of spousal abuse, homicide/manslaughter, child pornography or drug trafficking?.”

  9. Chris, Eagles fans hold their collective breath as Chip and the Chip Bots (local nickname since stars have been sent packing and appears Kelly only wants players who either went to Oregon or who are OK with being treated like collegians) prepare for 2015. Bradford and Murray are being kept under wraps/off field most of camp. The offensive line is shaking hands introducing themselves. The top LB brought in from Buffalo for Shady McCoy got a concussion…in a non-contact drill. No one following this team, fans or media alike, can honestly know what to expect. I have never, ever seen a pre-season like this. As for Nick Foles’ departure…obviously Kelly felt Foles would not get his team to the Big Game. As to why…one opinion is Foles wasn’t the same player after getting really beat up. The other is Foles wasn’t appreciating being “coached up” by Kelly. I buy both. What I can’t buy is Sam Bradford. That acronym of a leg is gonna break down and Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley or Tim Tebow will wind up being the QB. Clearly Chip wanted to reach up in the draft and get Mariota. His rationale was/is if you can’t get a #1 or #2 QB in the draft find one a team has given up on a la Drew Brees in San Diego…Peyton Manning fits that profile also. The way they are protecting Bradford so far this pre-season we’re not sure if he’s the Week 1 starter. I hope Sam proves me wrong and stands on two feet all season. I just can’t see that happening. This is a long-winded way of saying I think Dallas will edge out Philly for the NFC East. In a weak division, the Cowboys look to me to be the best of the bunch.

  10. Burnsy…

    I was surprised by the whole Bradford thing too.

    If anything, we’ve proved that you have to have a good quarterback to succeed.

    How could anyone think that Bradford is that guy?

  11. I think these are definitely the top storylines… I think AP will have a big year, I think the Jets will be a mess (as they already are)… I think the Redskins will be improved and oh, did you see the article on Peyton spinning a new offense?

  12. Peyton spinning a new offense? What’s that mean for them? Running the football?

    Notice how I didn’t include RGIII and the Skins in here, KP. Most of us knew it was only a matter of time before he went down.

    Like clockwork.

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