5 questions ahead of the 2016 NFL season

Whose Super Bowl window is closing and what rookies can make a splash?

1. Which rookie is going to have the biggest impact?

Buccaneers Eagles Football Carson Wentz has been named as the Eagles starter. Source: Mel Evans/AP/Press Association Images

OBVIOUSLY A LOT of eyes will be on Jared Goff (LA Rams) and Carson Wentz (Philadephia Eagles) as the first two names off the board in this year’s NFL Draft. However, with Goff already expected to sit out most of this season, it’ll be up to the Eagles player to try become the first quarterback to win Offensive Rookie of the Year since 2012.

He may have competition though in the shape of Dak Prescott who will be under center for the Cowboys until Tony Romo returns from injury. If the former Mississippi State QB can keep up his preseason form – five passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns and no interceptions — Dallas my be reluctant to pull him.

However, the favourite for Offensive Rookie of the Year is also wearing a Dallas Cowboys uniform. Running back Ezekiel Elliott could be in line for a historic season behind what is widely regarded as the league’s best offensive line.

2. Could it be the season of the underdog?

Raiders Cardinals Football Will Raiders fans have anything to cheer this year? Source: AP/Press Association Images

The Buffalo Bills are the only team in the NFL not to make the postseason in the 21st century but are among a number of teams hoping their luck will change over the next 17 weeks.

Oakland (13), Jacksonville (8), Tampa Bay (8) and Tennessee (7) are all hoping to break playoff droughts with a great deal of preseason buzz generated by both the Raiders and Jags.

However, the team under the most pressure to get a playoff win will be the Cincinnati Bengals who have fallen at the first hurdle in the playoffs in each of the past five seasons.

3. What coaches might be looking for a new job come the season end?

Chiefs Rams Football Jeff Fisher is consistent if nothing else. Source: Ryan Kang/AP/Press Association Images

For the reasons outlined above, both Rex Ryan (Buffalo) and Marvin Lewis (Bengals) are in trouble if they don’t manage a playoff win this year while Chuck Pagano (Colts), Mike Mularkey (Titans) and Gus Bradley (Jags) are also among those in the AFC who could be tidying up their desk come next January.

In the NFC, another poor season from the Packers could land Mike McCarthy in hot water though there’s far more heat in the seats of Jason Garrett (Cowboys), Dan Quinn (Falcons) and Mike Zimmer (Vikings) who is a head coach perfectly designed for the 1996 NFL season.

However, the one to really keep an eye on is Jeff Fisher (Rams), who somehow manages to hold a head coaching job in the NFL despite posting just six winning seasons out of 21 in the league.

4. Which team’s Super Bowl window is closing?

Carson Palmer might have one more shot at a Super Bowl. Source: Jeff Roberson/AP/Press Association Images

Eventually, father time is going to sack Tom Brady and the Patriots quarterback is not going to get off the turf. Will it be this year? There’s very little evidence to suggest it will and, indeed, the 39-year-old is only going to have to play 75% of the regular season, but that doesn’t mean the Patriots’ window isn’t closing.

In the NFC there are a number of teams that have one or two shots at the Vince Lombardi Trophy left in their starters. The Giants — who spent a ton of money in free agency — and Cowboys — with an aging, broken Romo — but the team at the top of the list in the Arizona Cardinals.

36-year-old Carson Palmer played well above himself last season to guide his team in the NFC Championship Game. He still has one of the NFL’s most potent offences to help him, but you can’t help but feel it’s win or bust for the former Raiders quarterback.

5. What teams be ‘contending’ for the number one overall pick next year?

Titans Colts Football Will the Colts struggle this year? Source: Darron Cummings/AP/Press Association Images

There is no shortage of options. The San Francisco 49ers have probably the worst roster in football on paper but that doesn’t always equate to the worst record as was shown last season.

The Browns are an obvious choice in the AFC but the inclusion of the Colts as one of the worst teams in the NFL may surprise some people. There is the real potential that this season could go downhill quickly for Indianapolis, particularly if Andrew Luck gets hurt again, as the Colts have one of the oldest rosters in the league.

The Bears, Titans (but only because they own the Rams pick) and Eagles are not without their chances of picking first overall in Philadelphia next year.

Even without Brady, the Patriots remain the best of the bunch in the AFC

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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