With the draft and the bulk of free agency behind us, it’s time to turn our attention to the burning questions we hope to get answers to at some point this season. Here are just a few of mine.
1. Will the Cowboys make the playoffs? Yes, in my opinion but likely as a wild card. That doesn’t mean they won’t necessarily make a Super Bowl run as other teams have shown the way (as recently as last year’s NY Giants). It all depends on how well they are playing at the end of the season. Peak at the right time and stay healthy enough and win-loss records don’t necessarily matter anymore.
2. How many games before Detroit Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz throws a hissy fit and tries to punch the opposing coach or a player after a loss? I say by mid-season Schwartz will have embarrased himself and his organization once again after a tough loss to the 49ers last season. Some applaud his “passion for the game” but I find him to be an incredibly annoying and obnoxious person without the necessary class to show restraint in a loss or a win. Cowboys fans won’t soon forget how he basically gloated and laughed in our faces about the Cowboys meltdown last season. They won’t because they’ve got Megatron, but I’d be thrilled to see them go 0-16 every season after that.
3. Who will have the better rookie season – Andrew Luck or RGIII? Many assume it will be RGIII because he has a better supporting cast around him in Washington than Luck has in Indianapolis. But, I’m not convinced. I agree the Redskins will probably have more wins at the end of the season, but I think Luck will have the higher QB rating. He’s made for the NFL game while RGIII has yet to prove his unique talent can translate to the NFL. Better question might be, who cares? Neither Indianapolis nor Washington are going to sniff the playoffs this season.
4. Will the Saints still be competitive in 2012 with all the upheaval they’ve already experienced? Many experts will start to count them out – especially if they stumble early – but this team still has a ton of talent. The real factor will be whether or not they get Drew Brees signed to a long-term deal. He doesn’t appear to be willing to sign the one-year franchise tender so they’ve got to get something done there or start the season with Chase Daniel behind center. The rest of the division got better around them so they would be crazy not to pay Brees what he wants and move on. If they do, they will still be a tough out.
5. How many games before the Jets have a full blown QB controversy? Uh. Feels like we have one already. Tebow is a fine young man but has one of the worst arms in terms of accuracy I’ve every seen. But, no one can argue that he doesn’t find a way to win. It should be interesting to see how this plays out but if Sanchez struggles the unforgiving Jets fans will be calling for his head and for Tebow. I’m not sure they’ll be any happier after that move unless it produces wins.
6. After missing the entire 2011 season, is Peyton Manning really healthy enough to make it through an entire NFL season? Everyone will be anxious to see him suit up and play some live game action but I doubt we will see a lot of that in the preseason. I have to believe every time he gets sacked each and every Bronco fan will be holding their breath unti he gets up. Younger, healthier QBs have trouble making it through an entire season without missing any significant time. Manning makes the Broncos instantly better but I would have my backup taking snaps in practice with the first team every week.
7. Who will lead the NFL in rushing in 2012? As a Cowboy fan, the obvious choice for me is DeMarco Murray! But, in Jason Garrett’s pass-happy system it’s unlikely that Murray gets enough touches game in and game out to make that happen. MJD led the league last season with 1606 yards, but Jacksonville will have a few more weapons this season. He’ll have another all-pro season if he stays healthy but I don’t see him repeating. Arian Foster, Michael Turner, and Ray Rice should all be in the mix. LeSean McCoy just signed a huge contract extension – that usually signals a dropoff in production – and his offensive line is not whole with the loss of Jason Peters. Adrian Peterson is another year older and coming off a significant knee injury. Getting back to 100% will be a big accomplishment and I don’t see him getting the help he needs to dominate. Maybe it’s my Arkansas roots, but I’m looking for Darren McFadden to have a big year. Word is he’s completely recovered from his foot injury that sidelined him in 2011.
8. Who makes the playoffs in the NFC and AFC in 2012? Kind of silly to make predictions this early, but what the heck, here goes:
NFC East – Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys (WC)
NFC South – Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints (WC)
NFC North – Chicago Bears
NFC West – San Francisco 49ers
AFC East – New England Patriots
AFC South – Houston Texans
AFC North – Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers (WC), Cincinnatti Bengals (WC)
AFC West – Denver Broncos
I’m sure other people will see it differently but that’s okay. That’s my educated guess right now. It will be fun to see how it actually turns out. I’m not going any further like naming Championship game participants or the Super Bowl matchup because its even more pointless at this stage.
Well, I’m sure there are other questions you have. Feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll be happy to give you my answers. This is shaping up to be a really fun season in my opinion. I can’t wait for the start of training camp and then the regular season. Go Cowboys!!