Biggest question for every NFL team entering the 2018 season

Arizona Cardinals – Biggest Question: Can David Johnson stay healthy?

The Cardinals actually did fairly well last season as they finished 8-8 despite missing star running back David Johnson for basically the entire season. It is especially important that Johnson stays healthy this season since the Cardinals have such uncertainty at the quarterback position. Johnson is undoubtedly one of the best running backs in the NFL, but if he misses significant time then the Cardinals offense could have serious issues.

 

Atlanta Falcons – Biggest Question: Will the offense improve with Steve Sarkisian as the play caller?

Atlanta had a dynamic offense in 2016 as quarterback Matt Ryan won the NFL MVP while leading the Falcons to the Super Bowl. However, Ryan’s play dropped off significantly last season with 1st-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Atlanta has too many weapons on offense not to be successful, so it is up to Sarkisian to do a better job with play calling in his 2nd season as offensive coordinator. Expect better results from the Falcons offense in 2018, but Sarkisian certainly needs to do a better job organizing the offense.

 

Baltimore Ravens – Biggest Question: How long will Joe Flacco last as the starting quarterback?

Joe Flacco is entering yet another season as the clear starting quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens. However, there is much more pressure on Flacco in 2018 after the Ravens drafted rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson in the 1st round. Jackson proved that he is still a raw prospect during the preseason as he struggled with his passing at times. However, if Flacco plays poorly again this season then Baltimore might be pressured to make a change sooner rather than later. Flacco’s starting role should be safe at least for this season, but the Ravens clearly didn’t draft Jackson just to have him sit on the bench for a long time.

 

Buffalo Bills – Biggest Question: What is the Quarterback situation for the Bills?

The Bills enter the 2018 season with a very strange situation at the quarterback position as they basically have three guys competing for the starting role. Rookie Josh Allen has the most potential for sure, although he proved during the preseason that he likely isn’t the immediate answer for the Bills. Nathan Peterman has looked good in the preseason, but he still might not be even a good short-term solution for the Bills. A.J. McCarron seemed like the clear short-term starter for awhile, yet his injury kind of took him out of the race to be the week 1 starter. Either way, the Bills have three young and inexperienced starters that are all competing for the starting job. The Bills have many issues on their team, but the quarterback position is a complete mess right now.

 

Carolina Panthers – Biggest Question: Will the offensive line be up to the task?

The Panthers have some elite offensive talent especially with quarterback Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey. However, the offensive line is definitely the biggest question mark on offense for the Panthers heading into the 2018 season. The loss of guard Andrew Norwell this offseason really hurt Carolina especially since they didn’t do anything to replace him. Meanwhile, the Panthers have already tested their offensive line depth in the preseason as they have dealt with a few injuries to their starting offensive line. Carolina is looking for Cam Newton to play better this season, but if the offensive line doesn’t give him much time then it could be a problem for the Panthers offense.

 

Chicago Bears – Biggest Question: Is Mitchell Trubisky ready to be a quality starter?

Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky took over as the full-time starter late last season for the Bears and he wasn’t very impressive to say the least. Most of that could be attributed to the horrible supporting cast that they had to throw to. However, last season showed that Trubisky might not be ready to be a good NFL starting quarterback. There is a lot to like about Trubisky as he is a very good playmaker with terrific athletic ability. Hopefully having a full offseason of preparation as a starting quarterback and some much better receivers to throw to will help him out. Either way, Trubisky is clearly the starter now and the pressure is on him to perform because he has much more around him this season.

 

Cincinnati Bengals – Biggest Question: Will the offensive line play better?

The Bengals offensive line was an absolute disaster last season and that was the main reason that the team struggled. However, the Bengals took the initiative to fix the offensive line as they added Cordy Glenn as their new left tackle. Also, the team drafted center Billy Price in the 1st round and he figures to start right away as a rookie. We’ll see how big of a help those two players will be for the offensive line, but they couldn’t be any worse than what the team had last season. If the offensive line can just play at respectable level then the Bengals have some good talent to improve the offense in a major way.

 

Cleveland Browns – Biggest Question: When will Baker Mayfield take over as the starting QB?

Tyrod Taylor is clearly the starting quarterback for the Browns at least early on in the 2018 season. However, it certainly won’t be long before 1st overall pick Baker Mayfield has the chance to turn around the Browns franchise. Mayfield certainly looked like the real deal during the preseason and the team didn’t just draft him that high to have him sit on the bench. It might not be this season that Mayfield gets his chance as the starter especially if Taylor continues to play well. However, it is possible that Mayfield could become the full-time starter soon rather than later.

 

Dallas Cowboys – Biggest Question: Who will step up as the top receiver?

Dez Bryant is no longer with the Cowboys and that means the Cowboys group of receivers will look way different this season. Allen Hurns was brought in to possibly take over the role as the number one receiver, although his injury history shows that he might not be a very reliable option. Rookie receiver Michael Gallup has impressed during the preseason as well, so he figures to have a big role early on. Also, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley figure to have a decent role in the offense as well. Meanwhile, the Cowboys are a complete mess at the tight end position after the sudden retirement of Jason Witten. Dallas is now without their only two reliable pass catchers and they must replace those guys effectively or it could be a long season for the Cowboys offense.

 

Denver Broncos – Biggest Question: Is Case Keenum the answer at quarterback?

Denver had poor quarterback play last season and that was the main reason they struggled so much. However, the Broncos have their quarterback for the 2018 season as they signed Case Keenum to a rather big deal this offseason. Keenum really should be an upgrade over what the Broncos had at quarterback last season. He was surprisingly really good with Minnesota last season as he led the Vikings to the NFC Championship game. However, Keenum has been a journeyman backup for basically his entire career and it makes you wonder if last season was just a fluke. Keenum has plenty of talent around him with the Broncos and there is no reason that he shouldn’t replicate last year’s success. That being said, Keenum wasn’t too impressive during the preseason and it will be interesting to see if he is the answer for the Broncos at quarterback.

 

Detroit Lions – Biggest Question: Will the Running Game improve tremendously?

The Detroit Lions have struggled at the running back position for awhile now, but the good news is that they made some serious improvements in that area this offseason. Detroit signed LeGarrette Blount in free agency and he figures to be the starter at least early on this season. Rookie 3rd round pick Kerryon Johnson should see plenty of carries throughout the 2018 season as well. Meanwhile, Theo Riddick has his role basically carved out as the 3rd-down running back and last year’s starter Ameer Abdullah could see some carries as well. Detroit still doesn’t have a great running back group, but it couldn’t be any worse than it has been in recent years. If Blount and Johnson can play well then it should take a lot of pressure off the Lions passing game.

 

Green Bay Packers – Biggest Question: Who is the starting running back?

Green Bay’s passing offense should be fine as long as Aaron Rodgers is the starting quarterback. However, there is a major question mark at the running back position for Green Bay as they have 3 players vying for carries this season. Ty Montgomery was the starter for the Packers basically the past two seasons, but he might be in for a lesser role this season. Also, Montgomery hasn’t proven that he can stay healthy consistently which is a major concern for the Packers. Jamaal Williams appears in line to be the starter early on and he should see most of the carries this season. Meanwhile, Aaron Jones seems like he might not have a big role especially since he is suspended to start the season, yet he could still see plenty of carries when he returns. Green Bay doesn’t have a clear starter right now and it seems as if the Packers are using a committee approach with their running backs. Either way, Green Bay is hoping that somebody takes the job and runs with it.

 

Houston Texans – Biggest Question: How effective will the offensive line be?

The Texans offensive line was definitely the main source of issues for the Texans offense last season and it is still a major concern heading into the 2018 season. However, Houston did at least attempt to solve their offensive line issues in free agency. They added Zach Fulton and Senio Kelemete to be their starters at both of the guard spots. Also, they added Seantrel Henderson to be the new starter at least temporarily at the right tackle position. Those three shouldn’t make a huge difference for the Texans offensive line, but they certainly should be an upgrade over the disastrous offensive line that the team had last season. The number one priority for the Texans should be keeping quarterback Deshaun Watson healthy and it is still unknown if they will be able to protect him effectively.

 

Indianapolis Colts – Biggest Question: Can the defense at least be average?

It is the same issue every year, but the Colts just can’t seem to find a way to try and improve their defense. The good news is that star quarterback Andrew Luck will be back to start the 2018 season, but there is only so much that he can do. The Colts did add some young talent to the defense early on in the draft and that should upgrade the defense a little bit. That being said, there are still major concerns all across the board on defense especially in the secondary after they let go of their starting cornerbacks. Young safety Malik Hooker is really the lone bright spot in the Colts secondary and he will be relied upon to help carry the defense. Meanwhile, veteran Jabaal Sheard is the anchor of the Colts defensive line as he led the team in sacks last season. However, the Colts will have to rely upon their rookie defenders early on as Darius Leonard will be expected to start right away at linebacker. Also, rookie defensive end Kemoko Turay will be relied upon to start immediately and hopefully help the Colts defense that finished 31st in sacks last year. Rookie 2nd round defensive tackle Tyquan Lewis also could see plenty of playing time early on, although he shouldn’t have to be a starter immediately. Overall, the Colts defense is extremely inexperienced and they still have to improve at basically every position.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars – Biggest Question: Who will step up at wide receiver?

The Jaguars wide receiver group will look a lot different than it looked at the start of last season. Most notably they lost their top two receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in free agency this offseason. They did give Marqise Lee a big contract to keep him around, although he is out for the season after suffering a gruesome knee injury in the preseason. Jacksonville did add Donte Moncrief in free agency and he figures to now become the number one receiver for the team after the injury to Lee. However, Moncrief hasn’t proven that he can be a consistently reliable receiver during his time in Indianapolis. Meanwhile, rookie 2nd round pick DJ Chark could also see a much bigger role sooner than expected in the Jaguars offense. The good news is that Jacksonville has arguably the best running game in the NFL, but the offense could struggle if they need their receivers to step up and make big plays. The Jaguars already came into the preseason with a big need at wide receiver, but now they are even more thin at the position and they will need their inexperienced receivers to step up.

 

Kansas City Chiefs – Biggest Question: Can Patrick Mahomes prove that he is the franchise QB?

The Chiefs had plenty of consistency at the quarterback position for the past few seasons with veteran Alex Smith leading the offense. However, Kansas City is going in an entirely different direction this season with 2nd-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes as the new full-time starter. Mahomes is basically a rookie since he only had one start last season for the Chiefs, but there is no quarterback competing with him for the starting job this year. There is a lot to like about Mahomes as he has a terrific arm and he has terrific athletic ability as well. However, there are some concerns that he might turn the ball over too often which is certainly not what the Chiefs have been used to with Alex Smith under center. There is plenty of weapons around Mahomes though as he has Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Sammy Watkins to throw to this season. Also, he has terrific running back Kareem Hunt alongside him to try and take some of the pressure off. The Chiefs entire season will depend on the success of Mahomes and they are hoping that he can live up to the hype and follow in the footsteps of Alex Smith.

 

Los Angeles Chargers – Biggest Question: Can the Chargers find some stability at Kicker?

The Chargers had a revolving door at the kicker position last season as they had 4 different kickers appear during the regular season. This season they are hoping to have much more stability as Caleb Sturgis heads into 2018 as the new kicker. Sturgis has been very reliable throughout his career and the Chargers are hoping that they can rely on him. The Chargers are a team with playoff aspirations this season and if the kicking situation isn’t solved then it could have the potential to cost them a chance at the postseason. Caleb Sturgis seems like he will be a major upgrade for the Chargers at kicker, but until he proves his worth then it will continue to be a huge question mark for the team.

 

Los Angeles Rams – Biggest Question: Can Jared Goff continue to improve?

Quarterback Jared Goff had an absolutely miserable rookie year in 2016, but last year the new coaching staff made a huge difference in his performance. Goff ended up playing at a pro-bowl level last season for the Rams and he proved that he is the franchise quarterback. However, this year is absolutely crucial for Goff as there is much higher expectations for him and the Rams in 2018. Goff has even more talent around him this season, so there is really no excuse for him not to take another step forward in 2018. I don’t think he will regress to the type of player that he was in his rookie season, but he needs to prove that last year wasn’t just a fluke.

 

Miami Dolphins – Biggest Question: Is Ryan Tannehill the answer at quarterback?

The Dolphins had some major issues at the quarterback position last season and it made them realize how much they actually missed Ryan Tannehill as the starter. Tannehill missed all of last season with a knee injury and it will be interesting to see how well he has recovered. Even when he is healthy Tannehill hasn’t yet proven that he is anything more than an average starting quarterback. It certainly won’t help that Tannehill doesn’t have much to work with on offense especially after the departure of star receiver Jarvis Landry. Tannehill has been in the league for awhile now, yet he still hasn’t proven that the Dolphins can rely on him consistently. However, if the Dolphins want to compete at all this season then they will need much more out of Tannehill especially considering that they don’t have much talent with the rest of the roster.

 

Minnesota Vikings – Biggest Question: Was Kirk Cousins worth the money?

The Vikings had some good quarterback play last season from Case Keenum, but they decided to try and upgrade even more by signing pro-bowl caliber quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency. Cousins is clearly an upgrade over Keenum, but many believe that the Vikings paid Cousins way too much. Minnesota gave Cousins a fully guaranteed $84 million contract which is a lot especially for a quarterback that isn’t even considered a top 5 QB in the NFL. Cousins has much more around him than he ever had in Washington as the Vikings have super bowl aspirations this season. Cousins has plenty of weapons especially on offense, so there is really no excuse for him not to play at an elite level in 2018. Cousins is set up for success, but he will have to prove a lot if he wants to show that he was worth all of that guaranteed money.

 

New England Patriots – Biggest Question: Who will step up at wide receiver?

The Patriots didn’t have an elite group of receivers last season, but it seems to be an even thinner group this season after the departure of Brandin Cooks. New England has tight end Rob Gronkowski and he figures to play a huge role as long as he stays healthy. However, the Patriots don’t have many great options at wide receiver especially early on in the season. Julian Edelman would likely be Tom Brady’s top target, but Edelman is suspended for the first 4 games of the season. Chris Hogan figures to be the top receiver while Edelman is out and Hogan should see a huge role in the offense even when Edelman returns. However, beyond Hogan and Edelman there is a huge question mark at the wide receiver position. Cordarrelle Patterson and Phillip Dorsett are likely the next options, although both of them haven’t proven that they can be relied upon as receivers. The Patriots passing game should still be elite as long as Tom Brady is the quarterback, yet it is a little bit of a concern that he doesn’t have many good options to throw to.

 

New Orleans Saints – Biggest Question: Has age catch up to Drew Brees?

The New Orleans Saints arguably have the best roster that they’ve had in the Drew Brees era, but the problem is that Brees is nearing the end of his career. Brees was still very accurate as proven by his 72% completion percentage. However, Brees just had a relatively average season by his standards. That being said, his decline in yards and touchdowns could be attributed to a much better running game for the Saints. Brees is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but we’ll see if his statistics continue to drop as he turns 40 years old in a few months.

 

New York Giants – Biggest Question: Will Eli Manning ever return to pro-bowl level?

Age has definitely not been kind to Giants quarterback Eli Manning as it appears that he is just an average starting quarterback these days. However, the Giants hope that having Odell Beckham back from injury and the addition of elite running back prospect Saquon Barkley will help Manning out. Manning certainly has plenty around him, so now there isn’t an excuse for Manning not to play well in 2018. However, Manning needs to stop turning the ball over which has been a problem throughout his career. He has always been inconsistent as he has had some terrific seasons, but he has also had a few really bad seasons. The Giants have the overall roster to be playoff contenders once again, although if Manning doesn’t play well then it might be time for the Giants to find their quarterback of the future.

 

New York Jets – Biggest Question: Is Sam Darnold ready to be the starting quarterback?

The Jets knew that they were making a big investment when they traded up to select quarterback Sam Darnold with the 3rd overall pick in the draft. However, the Jets expected to develop Darnold slowly and let Josh McCown be the short-term starting quarterback. That plan apparently didn’t last very long as Darnold was named the week 1 starter for the Jets and he will be the youngest week one starter in NFL history. The Jets clearly believe that Darnold gives the team the best chance to win right away. Darnold is no doubt the quarterback of the future, but it might not be the smartest move to play him right away if he isn’t ready.

 

Oakland Raiders – Biggest Question: How will the Raiders replace Khalil Mack?

Oakland’s defense was already bad enough last season, but it just got even worse as the Raiders traded away elite pass rusher wKhalil Mack to the Bears. Mack was the only reliable player on Oakland’s defense, but now the Raiders defense appears terrible. The main question is how the Raiders will replace Mack for the 2018 season. It isn’t like they can just go out and sign a good pass rusher at this time of year, so it appears they’ll need their current defensive ends to step up. Tank Carradine seems like the most obvious replacement as he has been the starter for the entire preseason. However, Carradine only has 5.5 career sacks which isn’t exactly a sign of optimism for the Raiders. It will be tough to replace Mack, but the Raiders are hoping that someone can surprise them and at least somewhat fill that void.

 

Philadelphia Eagles – Biggest Question: How much will Carson Wentz play this season?

Starting quarterback Carson Wentz is coming off of a season-ending knee injury late last year. The thought was that he would be ready to start the season, but the good news is that the Eagles have the luxury of having a very good backup with Nick Foles. We already know that Wentz won’t start in week one, but beyond that it is unknown when he’ll be ready. Philadelphia doesn’t seem to be in a rush to play Wentz until he is 100% healthy, yet it will be interesting to see how long Wentz will be out. Nick Foles has proven that he can play just as well as Wentz and it allows the Eagles to take their team and wait until Wentz is completely ready.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers – Biggest Question: Are the Steelers prepared to be without Le’Veon Bell?

Steelers star running backLe’Veon Bell is clearly unhappy with being franchise tagged once again this offseason and he has held out of the entire offseason for the 2nd straight year. However, the regular season is nearing and it is concerning that Bell still hasn’t reported to the team. Sure, he could decide to report just a few days before the regular season like he did last season, but it is still up in the air if that will happen. Either way, it appears that this is very likely Bell’s last season in Pittsburgh unless the two sides can miraculously agree on a new contract. The Steelers must prepare for what they will do if Bell departs after this season. That plan likely includes James Conner who got some valuable reps with the 1st-team in the preseason while Bell held out. Conner has been impressive so far and he is a good backup option if Bell decides to leave the Steelers. Even if Bell ends his holdout, the Steelers would be wise to give a bigger role to Conner as they prepare him to be the possible starter in 2019. Either way, it will be interesting to see how the Steelers handle the running back situation this season.

 

San Francisco 49ers – Biggest Question: What will the 49ers do at running back?

The 49ers seemed to find their new starting running back when they signed Jerick McKinnon to a big contract this offseason. However, the 49ers got some terrible news just prior to the season as McKinnon tore his ACL during practice and he will be out for the season. That means backup Matt Breida and newly signed veteran running back Alfred Morris will likely share the backfield for the 2018 season. The good news is that Breida and Morris have been impressive this preseason, although it will be difficult to replace the explosiveness of McKinnon. Breida figures to be the lead running back, but it is important that both running backs do well or else the offense might really struggle.

 

Seattle Seahawks – Biggest Question: How long will Earl Thomas hold out?

Earl Thomas has been away from the Seahawks all offseason as he has been seeking a new contract from the team. However, it doesn’t appear that there will be a resolution to this situation anytime soon as Thomas seems likely to not play any regular season games until he gets a new contract. Seattle also seems unwilling to trade Thomas unless they get good compensation in return like a 1st or 2nd round pick. Either way, Thomas is a free agent after the season and it seems unlikely that he will re-sign with the team. Thomas is really important to the Seahawks especially since they lost several key players from their defense this offseason. Thomas probably won’t play until he gets a new deal and the Seahawks probably won’t even negotiate a contract until he ends his holdout. Either way, both sides need to compromise or else this holdout could last all season.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Biggest Question: Is Jameis Winston the answer at quarterback?

There is no doubt the talent that Jameis Winston has and he showed it off during an impressive preseason. However, his character has once again come into question as he is suspended for the first 3 games of the season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. The main question though is whether he is the franchise quarterback that the Buccaneers have never really had. Winston often makes incredible plays, but he also makes way too many incredibly dumb decisions. Ryan Fitzpatrick certainly isn’t too much of a threat to take over Winston’s job long-term, yet if Fitzpatrick plays well the first 3 games of the season then it is very possible that Winston will be benched. Either way, this season is very important for Winston as he will need to prove that he is the answer for Tampa Bay at quarterback. If he fails to do that then the Buccaneers may be looking for a new starting quarterback very soon.

 

Tennessee Titans – Biggest Question: Can Mariota have a comeback season?

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota didn’t exactly have a good 2017 season as he threw for 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Tennessee still somehow managed to sneak into the playoffs and win a playoff game, but it was still concerning that Mariota played so poorly. Mariota was still a threat running the ball and he will continue to be a good dual-threat quarterback, but he needs to become more consistent as a passer. Mariota needs to return to the type of player that he was in 2016 when he played at a very high level and he didn’t turn the ball over very often. Mariota definitely has the potential and supporting cast to return to that type of season, but the Titans need him to play better because it will be difficult to win without him. It is likely that Mariota will bounce back in 2018, yet he needs to prove that he is the franchise quarterback for years to come.

 

Washington Redskins – Biggest Question: Is Alex Smith an upgrade over Kirk Cousins?

Washington was very fortunate to have pro-bowl caliber quarterback Kirk Cousins for the past few seasons. However, the two sides couldn’t agree on a contract extension and now the Redskins are moving on with a new veteran quarterback. Alex Smith was acquired by Washington and signed to a 4-year deal to be the Redskins new starter. Smith has already proven that he can be an elite quarterback even though he doesn’t often get considered that way across the league. Sure, Smith doesn’t make huge plays as often as other quarterbacks do, but he is an accurate and reliable quarterback. The best thing about Smith is that he rarely makes big mistakes. He takes care of the football and he usually gives his team a chance to win every single week. Smith might not be the most flashy quarterback, but he proved during his time in Kansas City is that all he does is win games. Kirk Cousins probably has more talent and potential than Smith does, but Smith might actually be an upgrade since he is a proven winner as a starting quarterback.

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