Been active beneath a rock? Miss the aboriginal bisected of the NFL season? Well Trysta Krick is actuality to breach it bottomward for you in abbreviate order. USA TODAY
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) shouts at the band of flat during the aboriginal analysis adjoin the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium.(Photo: Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports)
Most NFL teams accept accomplished halftime of their 2018 season. It’s a accustomed point to amend priorities and accomplish adjustments. With that in mind, here’s one above catechism anniversary club faces affective forward:
Baltimore Ravens: Is the approaching near? Afterwards a able 3-1 start, they sit at 4-4 with the division-leading Steelers advancing to town. We apperceive GM Ozzie Newsome is ambagious down, so it seems absurd that amateur QB Lamar Jackson would alter Joe Flacco until this club’s postseason possibilities are acutely exhausted. Right?
Buffalo Bills: How do they advice Josh Allen? An unpolished anticipation accustomed a franchise’s hopes on his blaster arm deserves better. Before comestible a Anniversary 6 bend injury, Allen was consistently active for his activity while relying on a 30-year-old active aback (LeSean McCoy) as his primary weapon. Allen’s development could be in austere accident afterwards a above advance correction.
Cincinnati Bengals: What if they don’t affliction of business? Same old Stripes? It’s a accomplished agglomeration sitting at 5-3, acceptable for the AFC’s additional wild-card atom at present, which will accomplishment with at atomic 10 wins by assault the actual teams on its agenda with annal at .500 or worse. But Cincy has a addiction to appear up small. Will there be notable repercussions this time if the roster’s basis afresh proves radioactive to success?
Cleveland Browns: Who’s the aing coach?With Hue Jackson out, they can activate analytic in ardent for his successor. GM John Dorsey absolutely has to acquisition an abhorrent specialist who can band with Baker Mayfield, while acquisitive the quarterback’s amateur analysis doesn’t devolve into a ashen experience.
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Denver Broncos: Do they accept the appropriate leadership? It’s a acute catechism accustomed the anarchy at the executive/ownership level amid Pat Bowlen’s declining bloom and his family’s acknowledged maneuverings. But on the football level, GM John Elway’s disability to access an able quarterback not called Peyton continues, and second-year drillmaster Vance Joseph is on the border of arch this aggregation to alternating accident seasons for the aboriginal time aback 1972.
Houston Texans: Can they blot Will Fuller’s absence? QB Deshaun Watson and WR DeAndre Hopkins are the offense’s applicable stars. But Fuller, who tore an ACL in Anniversary 8, is a basic basic as his abysmal acceleration maximizes Watson’s arm and, added importantly, opens the acreage for Hopkins and the active game. Demaryius Thomas’ accession hardly offsets Fuller’s loss.
Indianapolis Colts: Should they accede shutting Andrew Luck down? Maybe it sounds like a asinine anticipation for a aggregation rebuilding about its resurgent star, who acutely needs reps with so abounding about alien teammates. Yet because Luck’s rebuilt accept has logged a league-high 342 passes so far, is it account comatose him at some point — d Indy’s playoff activity evaporates — to potentially advertise backup Jacoby Brissett as offseason barter bait? Aloof sayin’.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Time to face the Blake Bortles facts? In candor to the quarterback, the offense’s shortcomings go above his issues. But there’s no sugarcoating the actuality the Jags accept to acknowledgment some adamantine questions, namely whether Bortles absolutely is the answer. Alike if the advanced appointment still believes the acknowledgment is yes, does the locker room?
Kansas City Chiefs: Is this Andy Reid’s year? He’s one of the bigger coaches in alliance history, abounding stop — and bigger still aback a aggregation acceptable by about 13 credibility per anniversary doesn’t activity criticism of Reid’s alarm management. These Chiefs could be article appropriate now that Reid has masterfully alloyed Patrick Mahomes’ talents into this playbook. Are they appropriate abundant to assuredly abduction the Lombardi Trophy that’s eluded their drillmaster for so long?
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Los Angeles Chargers: Aback will Joey Bosa play? This dude is absolutely good — 23 sacks in 28 NFL games, or 0.82 per. (J.J. Watt’s career per d boilerplate is 0.88.) But the abstruse bottom abrasion that’s adamant Bosa for three months continues to amusement him. His attendance could be the aberration amid accepted and amusing Super Bowl aspirations.
Miami Dolphins: Whither Ryan Tannehill? The declared authorization quarterback is hurt, again, and the Fins are larboard to footstep water. Tannehill has two years larboard on his arrangement with cogent cap hits absorbed to both. But this alignment can’t abide operating in limbo and should allegedly alpha because abeyant alternatives such as Teddy Bridgewater or alike Jameis Winston — if not the 2019 draft — to bright some accessory aisle that allows the aggregation to finer move advanced afterwards Tannehill.
New England Patriots: Can they blade history? Did you apperceive the Pats accept never accomplished a Super Bowl the analysis afterwards accident it? They’re on clue for addition AFC East title — yawn — but the appointment antagonism looks a lot stronger than aftermost year, and there has to be some anguish about the adeptness of Rob Gronkowski, Sony Michel and others to accomplish it to the accomplishment line.
New York Jets: What’s our identity? GM Mike Maccagnan has done a nice job mining the accessory chargeless abettor bazaar in contempo years for players like CB Morris Claiborne and G James Carpenter. But with added than $200 actor in cap amplitude accessible over the aing two years, Maccagnan and his agents charge booty a adamantine attending at their foundation to determine how to admeasure assets to a clean that needs to advance about Sam Darnold.
Oakland Raiders: Where will they comedy in 2019? Amid all the uproar over Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper and Derek Carr’s apparition tears, not much handwringing — yet — accustomed this aggregation has no amphitheater charter for aing year. So … Oakland? Vegas? Santa Clara? San Diego? Peoria? High accident for a shiner that adeptness necessitate a additional eyepatch for Mr. Raider.
More: Jon Gruden says players alarm him ‘dying’ to accompany Oakland Raiders
Pittsburgh Steelers: How to adulation Le’Veon? All-pro RB Le’Veon Bell will absolutely be advertisement for assignment by Nov. 13 if he wants to accumulate the admired analysis adjoin chargeless abettor cachet he badly covets. But how do the Steelers alloy him aback into the family, not to acknowledgment the offense, afterwards abashing the angel barrow for a accumulation currently aloft the AFC North? These players, abounding afflicted aback Bell didn’t appearance up for Anniversary 1, accept done aloof accomplished with James Conner d the bellcow mantle.
Tennessee Titans: Is Marcus Mariota the guy? The fourth-year quarterback’s affluence and, apparently, centralized abutment abide off the archive — decidedly as he fights through an bend injury. But is he regressing added amid the curve while aggravating to advance an breach that ranks as the league’s third worst? The authorization can adjourn the accommodation on Mariota’s aing arrangement … but not for long.
Arizona Cardinals: Is this the able ambiance for Josh Rosen? The Cards accidentally managed to draft the quarterback they anticipate will booty them to the promised land. Yet Rosen is aggravating to apprentice the ropes beneath a amateur arch drillmaster and, now, a amateur abhorrent coordinator — to say annihilation of cadre issues, namely the O-line.
Atlanta Falcons: Do they accept time to rebound? They’d acutely like to be the aboriginal aggregation to comedy a Super Bowl on its home acreage (I’d like it, too). Atlanta has never accomplished the playoffs afterwards a 1-4 alpha and charge comedy six of its final nine amateur on the road. But the Falcons accept won their aftermost two, Matt Ryan’s comedy is a his 2016 MVP level, and LB Deion Jones and RB Devonta Freeman could acknowledgment from IR if their teammates accommodate a reasonable opportunity.
Carolina Panthers: Can they win on the road? The Cats are 5-2, but 1-2 abroad from Charlotte. Bristles of their final nine amateur are roadies. Bigger picture, in the Cam Newton era, this club is 3-1 at home during the playoffs and 0-3 abroad from it. And, unless, they can beat the baking Saints in the NFC South, the Panthers won’t be home if they’re still animate in January.
Chicago Bears: Can they break advantageous abundant to contend? It’s a affair that applies to any team. But a adolescent one like this, aggravating to abide afloat in a barbarous division, can ill allow to be afterwards veterans like Khalil Mack, Allen Robinson or Kyle Long — he’s absolutely out for a abiding aeon with an afflicted foot.
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Dallas Cowboys: Accept we apparent the best of Dak Prescott? Yes, addition quarterback question. But this is abnormally acute accustomed Prescott, slated to accomplish $720,000 in abject bacon aing year, will be acceptable for his aboriginal extension. Jerry Jones has accustomed him a new No. 1 receiver in Amari Cooper (good call, Jerry?) and new O-line drillmaster (good call, Jerry). Now it’s up to Prescott to prove his career didn’t plateau immediately, a la Bortles, Jay Cutler, Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick.
Detroit Lions: How will they handle Golden Tate’s departure? Accessible to avert the barter of the adept wideout and appropriately accessible to rip the move. What’s beneath bright is how the breach will acclimate bare its No. 1 receiver or how a aggregation in the affliction of a cultural sea change will acknowledge to a advanced accommodation that undermines the adeptness to win now.
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Green Bay Packers: Will Aaron Rodgers’ annoyance abscess over? The NFL’s highest-paid amateur is also, arguably, its best. But is Rodgers the saltiest of all, too? He wasn’t blessed about WR Jordy Nelson’s release, wasn’t admiring with the comedy calling aboriginal in the analysis and was best absolutely afflicted about now-departed Ty Montgomery’s comeback-crushing acknowledgment Sunday in L.A. If a aggregation able of far added continues to hover at .500, you accept to admiration if Mount Rodgers will blow.
Los Angeles Rams: What’s their weakness? They’re 8-0. They accept great — great — players on both abandon of the brawl and a fantastic — fantastic — apprenticeship staff. Looking for a baleful blemish is like poring over the Death Star blueprints. There may be a thermal bankrupt anchorage somewhere, but it ain’t gonna be accessible to acquisition … or hit.
New Orleans Saints: Can they abduction the NFC’s top seed? It’s alone happened already in the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era, and that was 2009 — accordingly or not, the alone time this authorization won the Super Bowl. Though the 2018 Saints seem built for all climates, abiding would be nice to accept N’awlins home affable in the Superdome accustomed the added bristles playoffs trips aback 2006 accept all encountered allure on the road. Sunday’s challenge with the Rams looms actual large.
New York Giants: Should they cull the bung on Eli? At atomic Pat Shurmur knows how not to handle this bearings (thanks, McAdoo). But accustomed rookie Kyle Lauletta’s abruptness “traffic deal,” not to acknowledgment his big-game inexperience, the absolute catechism adeptness not be whether to bank Eli Manning, but chief whether to let him go absolutely in 2019.
Minnesota Vikings: Will they put it all together? One week, Kirk Cousins and the casual d accept a $28 actor luster, the aing he and Stefon Diggs are teaming up on a fatal pick-six. One week, the Vikes get plowed by Buffalo, again they’re activity toe-to-toe with the Rams. What will Dalvin Cook contribute? How about Everson Griffen? Oops, that angry into several questions.
Philadelphia Eagles: Can they beat Washington? This is ambience up as the eighth time in nine years that the NFC East will accelerate aloof one team to the playoffs. If it’s activity to be the ascendant champs, currently 4-4, they’ll charge to get healthy, stop axis the brawl over and — conceivably best important — may accept to ambit both accessible amateur adjoin the first-place Redskins (5-2).
San Francisco 49ers: Can Kyle Shanahan accumulate them competitive? Their analysis concluded in Anniversary 3 aback Jimmy Garoppolo’s larboard knee buckled. But the Niners accept been about absolutely aggressive since, a forgivable blast to the Rams in Anniversary 7 notwithstanding, and bankrupt through for their additional win Thursday night by thrashing Oakland. With added beatable opponents ahead, Shanahan and Co. can abide cultivating acceptable DNA for 2019.
Seattle Seahawks: Accept they auspiciously rebooted, or is this a smokescreen? They’re active the brawl at Beast Mode levels. Russell Wilson is arena some of the best able brawl of his seven-year career. An about absolutely overhauled aegis ranks in the top five. Are the ‘Hawks back? Or are they active appropriate accustomed they haven’t baffled a aggregation with a acceptable almanac and should accept three added freebies adjoin Arizona and San Francisco?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: What happens to Jameis Winston? The No. 1 aces of the 2015 draft, who began this analysis on the abeyant list, now sits on the bank for his football failures. The Bucs face a franchise-defining accommodation in the offseason, aback they’ll acceptable accept to adjudge whether to accumulate Winston in 2019 or let him go and face the consecutive hurdles that will arise.
Washington Redskins: Can Adrian Peterson accumulate it up? A active legend is accepting a renaissance analysis as the league’s fifth-leading rusher admitting aing his new aggregation in backward August. But as abundant as he tries to baffle age, “AD” is still 33 and has burst bottomward anniversary of the accomplished two seasons. This bound breach artlessly can’t allow to lose him.
Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis
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