[Ezra keeps the questions coming with another set of pivotal topics as we inch our way to the core of Week Two in the NFL. In my mind, the questions (almost exclusively) surround the match up between Big Ben and the upstart Mahomes. But Ezra makes a nice case that there are some other topics –including second-year RB Kareem Hunt–that merit additional thought this weekend. Go Chiefs!]
1. New Coaches
This year, seven new coaches were hired for teams throughout the league: Titans, Giants, Lions, Cardinals, Raiders, Bears and Colts. Only one of these teams made the playoffs last year, but three other ones made the playoffs just two years ago. Will these new coaches turn their teams around or just continue the losing ways of this past season?
2. Second Year Players
The 2017 NFL draft class could go down as the greatest of all time. A whopping four rookies from last year made the Pro Bowl (Alvin Kamara, Budda Baker, Marshon Lattimore and Kareem Hunt) in addition to players who had great seasons like Christian McCaffrey, Jamal Adams, Myles Garrett and many more. Can last year’s rookie stars build on their success, or will they fall victim to the infamous “Sophomore Slump”?
3. NFC South
In past years, the NFC South has been irrelevant, with the only competition being for the highest draft pick. However, we have recently seen a resurgence in the division. The Saints erupted in 2017, led by future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, rookie phenom Alvin Kamara, and dynamic receiver Michael Thomas and look primed for another big year. Meanwhile, the Falcons, armed on both sides of the ball, had the same record as the Saints last year and look to become NFC champs for the second time in three years. The Panthers went 15-1 and lost the Super Bowl only three years ago and are lead by Cam Newton as they look to build off their 11-5 season where they lost in the Wild Card Game to the Saints. Who will win the division this year? Will there be three NFC South representatives in the playoffs this year again?
Last year the Eagles did the unthinkable: they went from worst-to-first in the NFC East and took home the Lombardi despite most preseason models projecting them to improve by only a game or two. Can they repeat that success this season with a roster that stays largely the same, but begins the season with a rehabbing MVP-caliber QB Carson Wentz and several banged up starters, such as WR Alshon Jeffery and WR Mack Hollins.
5. Travis Frederick
A few weeks ago, it was reported that Cowboys All-Pro Center Travis Frederick has Guillain-Barré syndrome and has no timetable for his return. We wish him the best and hope he returns later this year.
I have one more round of questions before we get to the core of Week Two Kickoffs on Sunday at noon eastern time. Hopefully readers will come to the site again in the morning (and offer some opinions as they are watching college games today). You have to love this time of year. Thank you for reading.