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- Season Approaching Questions

Chris Pokorny June 11, 2005
Chris Pokorny
PFC Owner & Writer

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The NFL season is still a few months away, but each day that goes by brings us closer and closer to the first game of the 2005-2006 regular season when the Oakland Raiders will battle the New England Patriots. So many questions are yet to be answered such as, "How will Randy Moss perform in Raider Nation?", "How will new head coaches like Nick Saban and Romeo Crennel do in Miami and Cleveland?" or "Who will be in this years Super Bowl?".

In this edition, I will propose ten questions heading into the NFL seasons and give my thoughts and opinions on them. Let's start out with one of the things that has been bugging me the past few years now...

1. Will Peyton Manning "Pick Apart" the New England Patriots Defense?
Although it seems like I say this every season, Peyton Manning has to break out of it. Manning is the best quarterback in the league and could turn out to be one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. Until he beats New England though, people will mostly remember him by "the guy who played great but could never make it big". Manning has not been able to defeat the Patriots defense the past few years, but things are starting to change. Romeo Crennel is no longer in charge of the defense, as he went to the Cleveland Browns. The Patriots will be without Ty Law and Tedy Bruschi this season, although Law hardly played at all last season due to injury. Losing Crennel may not make a difference if Bill Belichick is the true reason Manning struggles. I believe that Manning will be able to take apart New England's defense this year not because Crennel is gone, but because he will finally find a weakness in the Patriots defense. Now, whether the Colts defense can stop anybody to assist Manning is a completely different story.

2. How Will Randy Moss Perform in Raider Nation?
There is no question about this one, Randy Moss can perform on any football team he plays on. The real question may be if Randy Moss is better off as a Raider than he was a Viking? On the Raiders, Moss can get a semi-new fresh start with a new city. He has already gotten comfortable with new quarterback Kerry Collins, and has even stated that he feels Collins can be better. I would question that since Culpepper had an MVP season last year if it weren't for Manning. However, maybe Moss is the reason Culpepper was able to perform so well at times, drawing defenses away from other players. If Collins can utilize that correctly, especially with having another dangerous receiver in Jerry Porter alongside Moss, then Moss will have one of his best seasons in the NFL. Remember also that the AFC players are not as used to Moss as some of the NFC players were.

3. How Will New Head Coaches Nick Saban and Romeo Crennel do in Miami and Cleveland?
Both coaches are trying to build their teams for successful futures. This year, both teams should be tough teams to face but they still won't be too strong. Having new systems, players, and coaching staffs usually take some time to get prepared for. I think the Browns are a little better off than the Dolphins are right now. Cleveland's offense is better than last year after the organization brought in a re-vamped offensive line, Braylon Edwards, and Reuben Droughns. The Dolphins will have David Boston this season along with running back Ronnie Brown, but I don't think they have a strong enough quarterback to get them in the right direction just yet. The Dolphins should have the edge defensively as they worked well as a unit most of the season last year. The Browns are switching to a 3-4, even though they may not have the right players for the scheme. Only time will tell how things work out for both teams this year.

4. Why Did the Denver Broncos Want The Browns Defensive Line This Year?
Last year, the Cleveland Browns had Courtney Brown, Geraud Warren, Ebenezer Ekuban and Michael Myers playing for their defensive line as either starters or backups. This year, all four of those men are now on the Denver Broncos. Ironically, the Browns defensive line coach from last season is now also on the Broncos. He pushed for all of these men to be on Denver, despite the Browns defensive line having a poor defensive showing the past few seasons. Maybe Butch Davis was the only reason this unit didn't succeed. Warren will be the only starter of these four for Denver and may have less pressure on him from the fans since he never lived up to the hype of a number one draft pick with the Dawg Pound.

5. Will Ben Roethlisberger Have a Sophomore Slump?
Roethlisberger had the best season ever from a rookie in my opinion, and there's no way he will be able to match his performance as a sophomore. It's nothing against Big Ben, but it does take some luck to win all of your games in the regular season, even if you are good. While Roethlisberger should continue to be a good quarterback this season, some defenses will pick up on him and force Big Ben to have only an above average season. Also, the Steelers did lose Plaxico Burress, who became Roethlisberger's favorite target at times. I don't think Big Ben will have sophomore as much as him not having some of the same luck he did last season.

6. What Is The Most Underrated Free Agent Pickup This Offseason?
It would definitely have to be the Baltimore Ravens signing Derrick Mason. For years, the Ravens have not had a single wide receiver do anything worth while. The only threat in the passing game was Todd Heap, who was injured part of the season last year. Mason is a proven veteran who has had a lot of success with the Tennessee Titans. He is a Pro Bowl type of player and the first reliable wideout for the young Kyle Boller. If Mason even adds a little bit of help to the Ravens offense which has struggled in the passing game the past few years, the Ravens could make a push towards getting back to the Super Bowl.

7. Who Will Be The NFL's Worst Team This Season?
Last year it was the San Francisco 49'ers followed by the Miami Dolphins and the Cleveland Browns. This year, I think the 49'ers will still be the worst team in the league. The 49'ers didn't get anywhere last year with Rattay or Dorsey, so Alex Smith should be the starter. Being a rookie, especially with not a whole lot of talent surrounding you, I don't see Smith having too much success. Kevin Barlow was a huge disappointment last year, and the only real threat on the passing game was tight end Eric Johnson. This team has not really changed from last year, while the rest of the teams in their division have either gotten better or stayed about the same.

8. Could It Be? The Chiefs Have a Defense?
Kansas City should be considered one of the top teams in the AFC heading into the season. Their offense doesn't need to prove anything, it's their defense that has caused them from doing a whole lot. This offseason, they decided to go nuts and sign Patrick Surtain, Sammy Knight and Kendrell Bell. Even Eric Crouch is in the mix there(with a slim chance of making the team...). These three huge additions to the Chiefs can take pressure off of other defensive players, making the unit better all around.

9. Could It Be? The Vikings Have a Defense?
Like the Chiefs, the Vikings went out and made a lot of big defensive moves. The Vikings signed Fred Smoot, Darren Sharper, Pat Williams, Napoleon Harris and Sam Cowart. I don't know about you, but I think this unit will be significantly different than it was last season. The players they signed aren't fill in players, they are good at the position they play. The Vikings upgraded their defense more than any other team in the NFL, which may finally be enough to contend for the division title. Of course, that's only if they survive without Randy Moss on the other side of the ball now.

10. What Is Your Early Super Bowl Prediction?
Representing the AFC will be the Indianapolis Colts and representing the NFC will be the Carolina Panthers. I think everyone understands why I believe the Colts will make it - their offense. It's too good to be stopped once again by New England or any other defense in the AFC. The Panthers should be considered a serious contender in the NFC. Don't forget that they represented the NFC in the Super Bowl two years ago. And last year, despite all of their injuries and poor start, they nearly made the playoffs. John Fox is an excellent coach and can get his team back to the Super Bowl.

Ten major questions are down, but there are more to follow. Stay tuned to Pro Football Critics as we reveal ten more questions and answers, coming soon. On a side note, congratulations to Amsterdam, who defeated Berlin 27-21 in the World Bowl in NFL Europe. Yes, I did watch the game actually, and it was fairly entertaining in the fourth quarter.

- Chris Pokorny

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