By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
BASN’s NFL Pre-Training Camp Burning Questions: Part Two
By Tony McClean
Updated: July 18, 2006
NEW HAVEN, Ct. — For the second straight day, BASN will help you get prepared for the 2006 NFL football season with our burning questions.
We took a look at the AFC yesterday and examined the things you wanna know about your favorite teams as two-a-days get set to start.
Today, we’ll end our series with a look at the NFC.
1. Five of the last six Super Bowl losers have not made the playoffs the following season. Will the Seahawks make it six of the last seven?
The last Super Bowl loser to make the playoffs the next season was the 2000 Titans, who ironically like last year’s Seahawks, had their conference’s best record. While there will be a drop off for Seattle, they should still be a playoff team. However with the Rams still lurking and an emerging team in Arizona, the NFC West crown will not be a given this season.
2. Which player will have a larger impact on his team in the NFC East: Terrell Owens at Dallas or Levar Arrington at New York?
The answer to this question isn’t as obvious as you may think. Both players were publically scorned by their former teams and are looking for redemption. The fact that they’ll both see their former team twice this season adds to the intrigue. While Owens’ signing with Dallas got all the hype, dont be surprised to see Arrington make more of a bang on the field in the Meadowlands than T.O. will with the Tuna Helpers.
3. If Isiah Thomas is so bad, then why does Matt Millen still draw a paycheck?
Good question. The boys from Motown have gone 20-55 since Millen arrived back in 2001. This was after a 9-7 season in 2000. That’s a record that would make even the Atlanta Hawks would blush. Now Rod Marinelli is being asked to become wet nurse for a team that has clearly been abysmal over the last few years. Believe it or not, there is some talent there. It just needs the right chemistry. Yo, Matt! If Rod doesn’t work out, I hear Larry Brown is still available!
4. Who will be the Cardinals’ Opening Day starter: Kurt Warner or Matt Leinhart?
Just two years ago, the former NFL MVP was looked as a insurance policy until Lil’ Eli took over in the Big Apple. Now just when Warner was starting to feel comfortable again in the Valley, here comes a Heisman Trophy winner with bigger credentials than Manning. Get that right arm ready, Kurt. You’ll need it to hold the clipboard when you calling in plays to the rookie. Who would have thought Warner has turned into the new Steve DeBerg.
5. Speaking of QB’s, just how much did Brett Favre’s “situation” set back the Packers and new head coach Mike McCarthy?
Given all the uncertainty of “Will he?” or “Won’t he?” that engulfed the Cheeseheads entire off season, the biggest impact came on the free agent markets. When they could have had players like K Adam Vinatieri or DB Ty Law sign, Green Bay had to settle for fellas like K Billy Kundiff and the oft-injured DB Charles Woodson. Nice guys, but not impact players. If Packer backers thought last year was a mirage, you’d better hide the women and children this winter.
6. Can Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister thrive in the same backfield with the Saints?
With apologies to the Odd Couple, but “Can a Heisman Trophy winner and a perennial All-Pro share the same ball without driving each other crazy?”. Me thinks yes. When you also factor in the uncertainty of Drew Brees’ shoulder, the Saints’ running game will probably have to be the focal point of the offense. If it works, this could be the best New Orleans backfield since the days of Dalton Hilliard and Reuben Mayes.
7. Which team bounces back first: McNabb’s Eagles or Vick’s Falcons?
There’s no doubt in my mind that both QB’s will bounce back and have tremendous seasons. The difference will be which defense finally shows up from last year’s slumber. Atlanta dropped from the NFL’s top defense in 2004 to 13th overall last season. Since that time they stole John Abraham from the Jets and signed ex-Bill Lawver Milloy. While the Eagles should be a better team, I think the Falcons bounce back with avengance.
8. Just how much will the Vikings miss Daunte Culpepper?
More than Vikings fans and management want to admit. Yes, Brad Johnson filled in very well after No. 11 went down. He even had the team still in the playoff hunt late in the season. But Johnson is no spring chicken. And if he should go down, say hello to either Shaun Hill, J.T. O’Sullivan, or Mike McMahon. Or as their known by their close associates: Larry, Curly, and Moe.
9. Which new head coach will make the biggest splash during his rookie campaign?
If I had to pin it down, I think Scott Linehan of the St. Louis Rams (above) may have the best opportunity to thrive in his rookie season. No they’re not the “Greatest Show On Turf” anymore, but they still have the likes of Marc Bulger, Steven Jackson, Torry Holt, and others on offense. If they can hold their own on defense, they could give Seattle a scare in the NFC West again
10. Who are the sleeper teams of 2006?
Here are two teams to keep an eye on………
49ers: I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out. Like we said about the Browns yesterday, they may be just a year and a good draft away from real contention. However, San Fran will be a spoiler and then some this season. QB Alex Smith will fall in love with first round pick TE Vernon Davis, who has the makings of becoming the next Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez all rolled into one.
Bears: How can you call a division champ a sleeper? When most media folks think that their season was a fluke. As long as they maintain their tough defense, Da Bears will always be a contender. Now Lovie Smith must decide who he wants to be the starting QB: Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman, or Brian Griese. Also, I think Cedric Benson will bounce back and be the running back everyone thought he’d be when he was the 4th pick overall in 2005.
NOTE: Be sure to check back with BASN beginning on August 31st as we’ll preview the entire NFL season. For eight straight days, we’ll feature our in-depth capsules on all eight division races leading up to Opening Night on Thursday, September 7th when the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Miami Dolphins.