Thursday, September 08, 2011

Keys to the NFL Season Part II

16. This is the end my friends. Neck and spine injuries are no laughing matter, and neither is having Kerry Collins as your starting quarterback. If you ever wondered how important Peyton Manning is to the Indianapolis Colts, wait till you watch the Colts play sans Manning.

15. It’s about change. As a city Detroit has needed change for decades, for 2011 the Detroit Lions will be experiencing change. A change in culture and a change in attitude will see the Lions improve this season. Thanks to dominant force Ndamukong Suh, and his partner in crime Nick Fairley the Lions are going to one mean bunch. There are no pushovers in the Motor City.

14. Rebuilding made easy. The Jacksonville Jaguars revamped their offense last year thanks to a reach with the 10th pick and they are yielding the rewards now. There are plenty of questions surrounding the Jags offense, but the defense could be good enough to carry them.

13. Was it just a dream? That’s what many are asking about the 2010 campaign put on by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The youngest team in the league shuck up the NFL and nearly slipped into the playoffs. But with their schedule getting tougher and two potentially elite teams in the division, they'll have to improve to win as many games as they did last year.

12. We like being under the radar. Those are words you never thought you would hear from the Dallas Cowboys, but that’s exactly where they current sit. Dallas went 5-3 in the Jason Garrett half of last season, but many cannot forget their 2-6 start. The Cowboys need to prove to the world that they are as good as they look on paper. Maybe having lowered expectations will help this team.

11. This year we are going to do it. I mean it!! Every year there is a breakout team in the NFL, and for the past four seasons that team has been the Houston Texans. Unfortunately for the Texans they never break through the glass ceiling. Thanks to additions on defense, and a shaky AFC North, this may finally be the Texans year.

10. Mark Sanchez is good enough. Yes I really mean that. The New York Jets have a loaded defense and talent at the skills positions. Now they need to trust and believe in Mark Sanchez. His stats aren’t great, but he is great in the 2-minute drill, and that will win you a lot of games.

9. The defense can’t save you this time. The New York Giants won 10 games last year, despite Eli Manning's 25 interceptions. Last year they had a healthy defense that saved the Giants when Eli got them into trouble. This year, Manning may not have that security blanket to fall back on thanks to injuries.

8. Find a way to make the pieces fit. So far, for Chad Ochocinco the issue hasn't been showboating or calling attention to himself, but instead, finding a way to fit into the New England Patriots offense. If things are bad enough for the Patriots to consider Randy Moss, you know the Patriots have concerns.

7. Its Joe Flaco’s time to shine. The defense is getting older, and does not have the big play making ability they once possessed. The offensive line has some holes in it, and the power running game may not be there. The Baltimore Ravens to have a host of reliable receivers who can make plays. Now it’s time for Flaco to take control of his team and prove he is an elite NFL quarterback.

6. It’s all about getting off to a good start. For three consecutive years the San Diego Chargers have gotten off to dismal starts, despite having the top ranked offense and defense in the NFL. The sluggish start and special teams mistakes cost the Chargers last year, they cannot allow either to happen in 2011.

5. Let the aerial display begin. The Atlanta Falcons were a great team last year, who fell short against a red hot Packers club. In order to keep pace with their rivals from the north, Atlanta traded up in the draft to secure the rights to Julio Jones, who is looking to make an immediate impact opposite Roddy White.

4. Is this really a dream team? The Philadelphia Eagles went against their recent history and they spent big in free agency this offseason. They spent big on their own players (See Mike Vick’s contract). Now it’s time to see if the Eagles spent their money wisely, or if this will be Andy Reid’s last stand.

3. Old habits die hard. If you’re the New Orleans Saints that’s a good thing. Last season the Saints suffered from a post-Super Bowl hangover. This year Drew Brees and company have been as focused as any team in the NFL, and the results will be seen on the field.

2. Will they play Pittsburgh Steeler football? We know they will on defense. But will the Steelers go back to a powerful ground attack that has made them one of the best teams in the NFL? There are not a lot of questions around this team.

1. First and 10 let’s do it again. The Packers were firing on all cylinders by the time the post-season came around last year. That was without several key players who were out on injury. This year they are healthy, and there will not be a post-Super Bowl hangover.

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