But the season presents enough other questions to fill an Ivy League semester. And as we wait for it to get fully underway this weekend, here are 10 of the most pressing:
What will happen to the Mark Sanchez-Tim Tebow experiment?
Let’s answer that question with a question: What happens when you jump up and down on a pogo stick while holding a vial of nitroglycerin?
Look for Greg McIlroy to get a serious shot at the job at some point, and look for the Jets to embark on a new quarterbacking direction in 2013.
Can the Lions tame themselves and concentrate on football?
Cornerback Aaron Berry was cut in July after an arrest for simple assault; he had been arrested earlier in the year on a DUI. Running back Mikel Leshoure was also arrested twice this past offseason. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley was arrested twice. Offensive tackle Johnny Culbreath was released after being arrested in January for marijuana possession. Ndamukong Suh, who has had several run-ins with the league office for on-the-field behavior, is facing a $1 million lawsuit over a car crash in December.
This isn’t a football team, it’s a remake of “The Longest Yard.”
The Lions have a lot of talent and promise, but they run the risk of sabotaging themselves through self-generated distractions. The Lions need leadership to keep their young and unruly members in line. This is probably a make-or-break year for coach Jim Schwartz to see if he can direct the Lions toward making positive headlines on the field instead of notorious ones off it.
Will Michael Vick remain healthy and will he lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl?
No, and no. That was easy.
Michael Vick is like a housefly: He shows some impressive escapability, but eventually he’ll get swatted. And that super-duper flak jacket around his abdomen? Won’t help. He would need to pad himself like the Michelin man to make it through an entire NFL season. Vick will probably make it through the opener at Cleveland. But then he’ll face the Ravens, and they don’t much like houseflies.
Rookie Nick Foles may be quarterbacking this team by Week 3. Vince Young, no longer with the club, called the Eagles a “Dream Team” before last season, but if and when Vick goes down with an injury, the dream will be like the kind experienced by a subject in a CIA experiment involving psychedelics.
Which of the five rookie starting quarterbacks will have the least success?
That would be Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins, and that would be through no fault of his own. He appears to have the makings of a fine NFL quarterback, and in time he’ll be one.
But the Dolphins had the 22nd-rated offense in the NFL last year, and they traded away Brandon Marshall. Tannehill won’t have an embarrassing year, and will show glimpses of excellence. Yet he’ll struggle more than the other four rooks.
Can the Giants repeat?
Absolutely. Don’t be misled by the opening loss Wednesday to Dallas. It’s one game, and they’re accustomed to scrambling their way through the season before finding postseason bliss. The Giants have all the requisite parts, especially a great defensive line and quarterback Eli Manning.
Also, remember that, when you get right down to it, they weren’t the champions of the 2011 season. They were only the champions of the tail end of it. They barely made the playoffs. They were 7-7 and then prevailed in their final two contests, against the Jets and Cowboys. They did a magnificent job once they got into the postseason, beating the Falcons in the wild card game at home, then knocking off the favored Packers and 49ers on the road before outlasting New England in the Super Bowl.
The point is this: The Giants don’t come into this season as fat cats, but as survivors. They’re not full of themselves after a 15-1 record in 2011 and a cruise through the postseason; rather, they’re still hungry with something to prove. They didn’t lose Wednesday because of overconfidence. They lost because Dallas wanted it more on that day.
And really, even though they’re defending Super Bowl champs, they’re flying under the radar, since NFC teams like the Pack, Niners, Bears, Lions, Saints and Eagles are getting more attention. It’s the ideal scenario for a repeat.
PFT: Tom Brady says the loss of Wes Welker didn’t come as a surprise because Brady has been around long enough to know that there are no safe jobs in the NFL.
2013 SNF Schedule
Check out the 2013 Sunday Night Football schedule.
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