Top Ten NFL Storylines Heading Into the 2012 Season

For those of you facing the quagmire of NFL football withdrawls understand that you are not alone and thinking on the hottest topics going into the season opener we were able to come up with this arrangement to assist in the supression of the lack of football frenzy that many of us are beginning to feel since the completion of the 2012 NFL draft.  We hope to comfot the readers with a countdown of the energizing topics that will begin to playout on Wednesday September 5th when the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants face off at Cowboys Stadium in the 2012 NFL season opener.

10. Randy Moss in San Francisco

After a year away from life in the NFL and unlike former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens, Randy Moss was able to receive a sixth chance in the league after burning bridges in Minnesota, Oakland, New England, Minnesota again, and then Tennessee.

Michael Crabtree has yet to live up to first round expectations. Moss being added along with the off season acquisitions of Mario Manningham, Ted Ginn Jr. re-signing a one year deal and the drafting of Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins 30th overall, all makes for a crowded wide receiver position.

Who emerges as Alex Smith’s number one target is anyone’s guess but it makes for the tenth rated story line leading into the 2012 NFL season. Speedster, undrafted free agent wide receiver and Stanford alum Chris Owusu could be an interesting guy to keep an eye on through camp and into preseason. If Owusu can get past concussion issues this kid could end up being a big time steal for the team.

9. The Cleveland Browns

In April’s draft the Browns drafted Trent Richardson by trading up one spot with the Minnesota Vikings. A move that left many wondering why? Nonetheless the Browns guaranteed themselves the running back the team so desired and later in round one Cleveland chose to bring in competition at the quarterback position by drafting twenty-eight year old Brandon Weeden.

We expect significant improvement by the Browns as does Cleveland President Mike Holmgren but will it be improvement enough to over take a young upcoming Cincinnati Bengals team along with division powerhouses like the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers?

Cleveland really focused on improving the offense during the draft and although it could take a season or two for the fruitation of this years draft class to come to pass, we are betting on the Browns to make huge strides this season.

8. The Dallas Cowboys Defense

Within the state of Texas and especially in the immediate DFW metropolitan area this is a much bigger storyline than number eight on the list for obvious reasons.

Nonetheless since taking over as a defensive coordinator in the league Rob Ryan coached defenses have improve in the second year in all categories except when during Ryan’s second year in Cleveland the Browns sack totals fell from 40 sacks in the 2009 season to 29 sacks during the 2010.

With the recent addition by subtraction of former Dallas Cowboys cornerback Terrance Newman, the free agent acquisition of Brandon Carr and the drafting of Maurice Claiborne the Cowboys defense & Rob Ryan very well could end up reinventing his own version of the Ryan family 46 defense many the NFL offenses to Ryan’s version of his father’s once dreaded 46 defense.

The Dallas Cowboys no longer have the excuse of a weak and shallow cornerback position. After a full offseason to install the rest of Rob Ryan’s defense its time to to get it done on the football field in Big D.

What better stage to show off the revamped defense then on opening night against Eli Manning and the defending super bowl champions at home in Cowboys stadium?

7. Matt Forte’s Contract Status

 Earlier in the off season the Chicago Bears added Michael Bush the formerOakland     Raiders back to take over where the recently retired Marion Barber left off, as well as providing an insurance policy against the Forte holdout. Matt Forte wants a long term deal and has indicated that he will not sign the franchised tender that the Bears have tagged him with.

By re-signing Kahlil Bell some may read intoChicago’s tactics as positioning against the trade of Forte, against the chance that Forte does indeed holdout, or even that Forte doesn’t return to pre-injured form.

We simply believe that the Bears are stockpiling depth. Marion Barber retired after the 2011 season and prior to both theBellre-signing and the acquisition of Michael Bush only second year player Armando Allen was the only other active running back under contract on the team.

Matt Forte is eligible for a one-year guaranteed salary in the neighborhood of $7.7 million.

6. RG III In the Nation’s Capitol

Comparisons to Michael Vick are already being made and RGIII has yet to throw a pass in the NFL.Washingtonyielded a king’s ransom for the opportunity to draft the charismatic youngster and his sock collection.

How Griffin the III holds up to NFC East competition makes for great television and his assault or decent either way will have many tuned in to watch.

5. Andrew Luck & The Indianapolis Colts

As mentioned in the previous number sixth rated storyline both Andrew Luck & RGIII performance will be closely scrutinized and compared to one another’s. These two college standouts did happen to go number one and number two for a reason and everyone will be ready to watch for years to come.

Along with being the top overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, Luck is also one of the reasons the Indianapolis Colts decided to move on from former overall number one pick Peyton Manning.

We imagine amongst Colts fans there were many conflicted feelings regarding the decision to move on from Manning to Luck and many a fan will be anxious to see how the decision by the Colts brass pans out for all parties involved.

4. Houston Texans & Quarterback Matt Shaub

Quarterback Matt Schaub sustained a season ending foot injury last November in a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Questions are being raised regarding the Houston QB’s availability for training camp and as to what percent Schaub will be come July.

Following the Houston Texans first playoff appearance in the franchises history the whole right side of the offensive line departed via free agency. Will the tandem of Arian Foster and Ben Tate remain a running game force behind the newcomers shoring up the right side of the line now?

Will the departure of Mario Williams toBuffaloaffect overall defensive production? Few analysts’ doubt it will considering the Wade Phillips coached defense performed as well as it did after Williams season ending injury last season.

3. The New Orleans Saints

Is there much that won’t be interesting to watch regarding the XLIV Super bowl champions?

Drew Brees wants a long term deal but it seems the New Orleans Saints are reluctant to give him one. How will the defense hold-up under a four game suspension for defensive end Will Smith and a year long suspension for middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma?

Along with Smith and Vilma head Coach Sean Payton will miss an entire season as well. It should be interesting to see how the well oiled machine known as the Saints offense performs with a possible disgruntled quarterback and a missing offensive minded play caller like Sean Payton.

2. Tim Tebow Taking a Bite of the Big Apple

Add Tebow Time as the newest member of the three ring circus known as the New York Jets. It’ll be interesting enough watching how the Jets incorporate Tebow in to the offense let alone if a quarterback controversy begins to unfold within the team.

Word that the Jets are the odds on favorite for HBO’s Hard Knox again this year will definitely place extra lime light on a team whose focus needs to be more about football and less about reality television.

1. Peyton Manning In Mile High

Some have suggested that the storied Indianapolis Colt will not be the same after the neck injury that sidelined the future hall of famer for all of the 2011 NFL season. The Denver Broncos obviously did not feel the same way.

How Peyton Manning holds up against the mile high atmosphere and playing in the elements ofDenverwill be well worth watching. Everyone will tune in to see if Manning returns to form and can lead the Broncos.

If Manning is able to play this will be the most anticipated of all storylines this upcoming NFL season.

Least we not forget the RGIII versus Andrew Luck, quarterbacks one & two, comparisons that well forever have these two QB’s tied together.

Be sure to hit me up on twitter @j0eo1s

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Topics: Brandon Carr, Brandon Weeden, Chris Owusu, Dallas Cowboys, Eli Manning, Maurice Claiborne, Michael Crabtree, Mike Holmgren, Mike Jenkins, Peyton Manning, Randy Moss, San Francisco 49ers, Ted Ginn Jr., Trent Richardson

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