LOS ANGELES — The triumphant return of the NFL season is now just days away (hoo-rah!), and in honor of it culminating in the 46th Super Bowl, let’s kick things off in proper fashion with the Top 46 Burning Questions To Start The Season. Now debate!
1.) Is Bill Belichick the greatest coach of all-time? We’re not talking best dressed, obviously, but with his career totals, it’s worth discussing.
2.) How good will the Texans defense be? Defensive whiz Wade Phillips has Mario Williams standing up as a linebacker with hopes it will result in a monster season for the former top pick.
3.) Who with the Broncos has it in for Tim Tebow? Clearly it’s someone or else the rumor he was actually 4th string wouldn’t have gotten circulated.
4.) Is Chris Johnson really worth a 1,625% raise? His strategy worked, now it’s time to show the real Titans fans he’s worth all that cheddar.
5.) Really, the Falcons to the Super Bowl? Many have the Red Birds pegged to represent the NFC come February.
6.) Do the Jets have enough to back up the talk (again)? Knocking on the Super Bowl’s doorstep back-to-back seasons is enough to keep peoples ears percolated.
7.) Does Jimmy Clausen + Cam Newton = Andrew Luck? I wouldn’t rule anything out for the Panthers, even drafting a QB No. 1 overall two years in a row.
8.) Kudos for keeping this joke going, Carson Palmer; now when are you coming back? “Carson, we have Jim Harbaugh on Line 1.”
9.) What will become of Donovan McNabb’s legacy? The last two years haven’t gone well for No. 5, and that’s an understatement.
10.) Why exactly did Sidney Rice sign with the Seahawks? It’s possible he lost a bet with Tarvaris Jackson, right?
11.) If Michael Vick is worth $100 million what is Drew Brees worth? Only once in eight years has he played a full 16 games; Brees won a Super Bowl and saved a vintage American city.
12.) Which rookie QB will have the most immediate success? Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder and Jake Locker will get their chances this season, that is almost a guarantee.
13.) Is Julio Jones a lock for Offensive Rookie of the Year? For the Falcons to make the leap he’s going to have to contribute in a big way, and he’s going to get the opportunity; often.
14.) Is Von Miller the next Lawrence Taylor or Vernon Gholston? Extremes, yes, but there’s a fine line between All-Pro and All-Bust.
15.) Which team will Bill Cowher be coaching next season? If I had to sit next to Dan Marino on a weekly basis I would’ve back on the sideline years ago.
16.) What will Gus Johnson’s signature call be this year? Someone invent a way for Gus to broadcast every single football game each week; they’d all be instant classics.
17.) Will the Lions be as good as everyone thinks, finally? The defense has been impressive, so has the offense to be honest; it’s all on Matthew Stafford’s health, unfortunately.
18.) Will Darrelle Revis and Nnamdi Asomugha have more interceptions this year than me? I had zero last year, which is the exact total these two had, so something has to give.
19.) Is HBO’s next show, Fired or Playoffs: the Gary Kubiak Story? Forget “Hard Knocks,” this is way more interesting; OK, not really.
20.) Is Mark Herzlich the next Zach Thomas? Undrafted free agent makes the team, finds his way on the field and never comes off. Sounds about right for Herzlich.
21.) What will prevent the Chargers from reaching the Super Bowl this year? Every season it’s something, it’s just what week will the shoe finally drop in San Diego.
22.) Imagine for a second if the Packers stay healthy; scary, huh? Green Bay won the Super Bowl with nearly its entire roster missing multiple games; think about that.
23.) What superhero will Stevie Johnson turn into this season? The Joker had the last laugh on the league with a breakout season in 2010.
24.) Is this Alex Smith’s last chance? He has more lives than Phil Connors.
25.) Will Sebastian Janikowski break the FG distance record? It’s pretty bad when your two best/consistent players are the punter and the place kicker.
26.) Is Jamaal Charles the next great all-purpose back? Speed, check. Elusiveness, check. Next 2,000-yard season, to be continued.
27.) Which is greater: Eric Berry’s potential or Ed Reed’s career? Berry was named a Top 100 Player of 2011 as a rookie; Reed is a Top 100 Player of All Time. Your call.
28.) Higher total: Jay Cutler passes off his back foot or times sacked? Both numbers will be high, that’s a given. Cutler should be glad INTs isn’t one of the options.
29.) Which division winner from 2010 will miss the playoffs? Top options include Colts, Bears, Seahawks and Chiefs.
30.) Will Adrian Peterson truck some literally into next week? Ryan Clark is just praying it’s anybody but him.
31.) Will Brandon Marshall return to his Broncos form with Chad Henne throwing him the ball? 307 catches in three years is a lot to ask for, yes, but he is that good no matter who’s throwing him the ball.
32.) How many years does Ray Lewis have left? He turned 36 earlier this year, has missed just two games in the last five years and he’s never looked better.
33.) If Rob Gronkowski spikes the ball hard enough after a touchdown, will it disintegrate? Word is they’re going to start making the footballs with a thin undercoating of titanium to protect them against his spikes. Not really, but you believed it for a second.
34.) If Eli Manning throws 25 INTs again will Mayor Bloomberg send him to jail for 20 months? OK, OK, that’s a bit harsh but Eli’s turnovers last year were at times downright criminal.
35.) Should Troy Polamalu cut his hair does the Steelers defense suddenly become human? Flying over offensive lineman, leaping for one-handed interceptions, Pittsburgh’s defense just isn’t the same without him.
36.) If the Patriots fail to win a playoff game, does the mystique take a hit? Two years in a row with opening round playoff blowout losses sure doesn’t look good on the resume.
37.) Will someone finally punt one off the jumbotron at Cowboys Stadium? We’re entering year three of Jerry Jones’ baby and we have, what, one hit on the jumbotron?! C’mon punters, step your game up.
38.) Will Peyton Manning become a head coach someday? He’s the smartest offensive player ever and if his neck is worse than we think, he’ll have to do something.
39.) How many would-be tacklers will Peyton Hillis and LaGarrette Blount leap over this season? As if it even matters. Just hand these two the rock and get out the way; steeple chase be damned.
40.) If Larry Fitzgerald played with one hand tied behind his back for the whole season, would he still catch 100 passes? Based on some of his catches this preseason, the answer to that is YES.
41.) Why doesn’t Steven Jackson have a cooler nickname? Wait, does he even have a nickname?
42.) Does Mike Shanahan really know what he’s doing in Washington? I submit to the court John Beck and Red Grossman as evidence A.
43.) Fireman Ed knows he jumped the shark like three years ago, right? On second thought, don’t tell him, his stale in-game antics are much funnier this way.
44.) Assuming Jason Garrett uses the “good plays” all season, will the Cowboys threaten the scoring record? Americas Team has first-rate artillery so there’s really no excuse, so it all hinges on Tony Romo’s health.
45.) Will Mike Wallace have the first 4-catch, 240-yard, 4 TD game in NFL history this season? With every Rashard Mendenhall fumble this becomes more and more likely.
46.) How will Brett Favre steal headlines this season? What, you didn’t think I’d leave out the ole’ gunslinger, did ya?
— Chris Brockman