Stories of the Season

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Can the Browns and Lions continue their perceived “upswing” to make some noise this year?  These two have had some really bad luck in recent years, but with some young talent on their rosters it appears these perennial doormats are on the verge of making a comeback.  Let’s all hope that happens.  Even missing the playoffs, which is likely given the ultra-competitive divisions they both play in, wouldn’t be a bad thing if they continue to show the improvement they have shown in the past few seasons.  Wouldn’t it be great to see a Thanksgiving game featuring the Lions in a playoff push?  I’d be up for that.

Rookies, rookies, rookies.  Every season some flop and some flourish.  It never fails, and it’s not the easiest thing to figure either.  The top picks could be the guys that show the least amount of promise while a low sixth-rounder ends up starting and making an impact.  Who can tell?  It will be fun to watch along the way though (as will who make that “reach” in the fantasy draft that misses badly).

Can the players returning from injury return to form?  Whenever someone goes on IR for the season, it’s always a gamble the following season if that player can come back and get back to their previous level.  Can guys like Tony Romo return and make the Cowboys a playoff team again?  Dallas fans can only hope.

Playoff hangover anyone?  Every year it seems too many teams that make the playoffs the year before struggle to make it back.  There doesn’t seem to be any concrete reason for this, but a combination of things seem to play into the “hangover effect”.  Tougher schedules for one.  Injuries and less off-season preparation time also seem to add to this problem.  One thing for sure though, somebody will miss the playoffs this season that went last year.  The trick is figuring out who that will be.

Will there be a repeat?  Can the Champion Packers make it two in a row, a feat they have failed to accomplish in over 40 years?  It won’t be easy, even with all the players they have returning from injury from last season.  With the Eagles re-tooling, the return of Tony Romo in Dallas and free-agent maneuvers from teams like the Patriots, this will be a monumental task at the very least.  History says no, but you cannot count ANY champion out until they’re out of the playoffs, so for now the Pack is STILL the team to beat.

How will all the new head coaches fare?  Denver, Carolina, San Francisco, and Tennessee, among others, all have new head coaches this season.  Can the changes return these franchises back to the level they’re accustomed to?  Time will tell, but with the coaching turnover that we see every season, it would seem likely that a few might not be around much past year three, if that long.

It seems that Tennessee and Arizona have solved their quarterback problems, at least for now.  Even with that there could still be quarterback “controversies” that erupt in several cities this season.  Denver, Washington, San Francisco, Seattle, Miami – all have decisions to make about their signal-callers and all could go either way.  While some teams seem to have finally settled on their guy, only a few bad plays or untimely injuries or even a trade could be all there is between #2 becoming #1.

How will the Peyton Manning neck problems affect the Colts’ season?  Now, I’m no Colts fan, but anytime one of the top players on one of the top teams in the league is having injury issues at the start of the season it could be bad.  Let’s hope he can recover, and fast.  The league is bigger than any one player, but it’s also better when the best players are on the field.

So there you go, some of the stories I will be following throughout the season from now until Super Sunday.  As always, the story of the season will be unique, and as always it promises to be a wild ride.  Let’s tee it up and have some fun!