As training camps around the NFL continue to develop tons of great story lines leading into the 2007 NFL season, there are plenty of questions that surround even the top teams in the league. Here below are some of those questions that surround some of the top AFC teams, and our answers to them:
Will the Colts Have Enough Defense to Repeat as Champs?
Indy lost quite a bit this past offseason on defense, which really stepped up in last years playoffs to help them get to and win the Super Bowl. Gone are Nick Harper, Cato June, Montae Reagor, Mike Doss, Jason David and Gilbert Garnder. The team is going to need corners Kelvin Hayden and Marlin Jackson to really step up, and the D-line with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis will have to be solid as well. Six of the teams eight draft choices were on defense, so expect there to be some growing pains and mistakes. Overall, this team does have enough offense to survive and get in shootouts if it needs to if the defense falters.
Is there Too Much Pressure on the Patriots to Win it All?
There is an extreme amount of pressure on the Pats this season, as many have already handed them the title after an offseason that saw the roster reload to be one of the most scariest teams the league has seen in sometime. Instead of reading their own headlines though, the Pats realize they will be the hunted each week, and despite questions about coach Bill Belichick’s future, and a running game that could be in trouble if Laurence Maroney’s shoulder is not fully healed, this team is going to stay level headed enough to make a serious run for a game in Glendale, AZ in early February.
Can the Chargers Be as Good as Last Season When they were 14-2?
I can see the Chargers taking a small step back this season, but with that they are still one of the top three teams in the AFC and should take home the West barring any huge injuries or letdowns. LaDainian Tomlinson and the rest of the offense remains intact from a season ago when they scored 492 points. The big question will be the wrinkles that new coach Norv Turner adds to the offense, and if those don’t go over well early, how quickly they will adjust. The first five weeks with games vs Chicago, at New England, at Green Bay, vs KC and at Denver will show a lot about the 2007 Chargers.
Do the Ravens Have Enough Offense to Get Past Cincy and Deep in the Playoffs?
Last season the Ravens did all they could to stop the Colts express in the playoffs, and while their defense held the Colts to 15 points, the offense was nowhere to be found, losing 15-6. This season the team upgraded with Willis McGhaee coming in to replace running back Jamal Lewis. The bigger question is Steve McNair and the passing game, which was not good at all down the stretch. This unit as a whole is going to need to play better to make it to late January. They ranked 17th overall last season, and 25th rushing.
Can the Bengals Finally Take the Next Step?
Two seasons ago the Bengals were 11-5, but lost Carson Palmer early in the playoff game vs the Steelers and then ran out of gas after leading 17-7. Last season the team started 3-0, but then forgot how to stop the run and lost three straight twice, the second time to end the season and miss the playoffs at 8-8. While Marvin Lewis has turned the franchise around since he showed up in 2003, this team has too much talent to not win at least 10-11 games in 2007. They will have a tough stretch to start the season though, as five of their first six games are against teams that made the playoffs.
Is Jay Cutler the Real Deal Enough to Lead the Broncos to the Post Season?
This seems to be a rather easy question to answer, as Cutler had the Broncos knocking on playoffs door before falling at home in the last game of the season to the 49’ers. They were 7-2 in November but couldn’t finish the job and finished 9-7. Cutler showed signs of being a leader though, and in throwing just over 1000 yards with 9 TD’s and five picks, he showed he is the teams QB of the future. He will need help from the running game, and if he gets it, he and Broncos should be in position to challenge the Chargers or at least be a wild card.