THIS week we will see NFL teams resume activities (halleluiah!) when they rock up to training camp. For the most part, teams have their newly structured rosters and are rearing to sink their teeth into the final phase of the offseason. Not all questions have been answered though, with plenty still up in the air. Before the season kicks off here are the biggest puzzles we need to solve.
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What will Dak Prescott’s follow up act look like?
BEHIND the best O-line in the league and buoyed by his co-rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott looked poised and comfortable under center years beyond his experience. With Tony Romo no longer breathing down his neck the keys to the Cowboys franchise are clearly Prescott’s and many (myself included) aren’t expecting Dallas to repeat their 13-3 season. That being said if Dak can find his groove and catapult into a stellar sophomore season who knows whats possible.
Does J.J. Watt’s return mean the Texans own the No. 1 defense?
PROBABLY. The Texans conceded the fewest yards in all of football last year, largely thanks to career seasons from defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and linebacker Whitney Mercilus. Having Watt back in the fray though changes their dynamics completely with his ability to single handedly swing the result of a game. Bad news for the rest of the NFL, this trio could be set to take the league by storm.
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How much has Jared Goff improved?
AMAZINGLY the Rams have the highest payroll in the entire NFL, which is incredible considering how many holes they have in their team. After trading up to take quarterback Jared Goff No. 1 overall last offseason they are handcuffed to the Californian native as their play caller. His was a disappointment last season, granted a lack of protection, pass catchers and running game ass impacted him negatively. The addition of a few pieces to the squad to help solve those issues should see Goff have a much better second season.
Can Bill Belichick and his Patriots really do it again?
YOU have to wonder when the Patriots will finally fall in a heap and stop reeling off SuperBowl victories. After a killer offseason though it doesn’t look like that will be happening anytime soon. An influx of talent from New England via several trades and signings means that they arguably have a better team than their winning SuperBowl team last year. Are we even surprised at this point?
Is Marshawn Lynch the final piece of the puzzle?
IF Derek Carr didn’t break his leg last year we very well may have a different SuperBowl champ. Keeping much of their same roster from a season ago the Oakland Raiders are set for another deep run into the playoffs and the addition of Marshawn Lynch to the back field could be the difference maker. Lynch is 31 and has spent a year on the sidelines so don’t expect him to start ripping off these 20-25 carry games with a portion of the reps likely to be split between Jalen Richard and Dwayne Washington. If Lynch can stay healthy and become a key part of their dominant offense, the skies the limit for the Raiders.
Who will be atop the Broncos depth chart at QB?
STARTING quarterback at the Denver Broncos is still up grabs. They aren’t exactly spoilt for choice, with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch the two duking it out for the coveted role. Siemian was the man they called upon last year, with his first year as starter equating to 3,401 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Lynch had his moments nearly totalling 500 yards with a pair of TD’s and an interception. It seems like the job is Siemian’s to lose, but training camp could yield anything.
Eli’s last SuperBowl chance?
I have a sneaky suspicion that the New York Giants are going to be a real threat this season and could even go on a SuperBowl run. A lot of that hinges on if Eli Manning can remain healthy and on target to find his talented receiving core with regularity. Manning has reeled of TWELVE STRAIGHT SEASONS of 16 games not including playoff games, so he has plenty of miles on his 36-year-old body already. If New York can’t go all the way this year, it could very well be the end of an era for the franchise.
Image from si.com
Will Zeke’s off field antics cost him?
AFTER a tumultuous offseason Ezekiel Elliott faces the prospect of missing the first few Cowboys games. NFL officials are apparently looking into a domestic abuse incident involving Elliott from July 2016 to understand all the facts. If that translates to a suspension it could see him miss the season opener against the New York Giants, which, should it translate to a loss, could be a huge impact on the Cowboys playoff hopes.
Will Colin Kaepernick find a new home?
THE protests from Colin Kaepernick last year in San Fran really cost him. There’s no doubt that Kap can still contribute to a team but as camp looms he still finds himself without a home. I think by the time the season begins he will have found a place after injuries and regression take place leading to a spot opening up. If it doesn’t though Kaepernick faces the legit possibility of heading into the 2017 season without a paycheck.
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