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Will it be the glory of 2007 again for the Giants?

Or will it be the nightmare of 2009? No one is giving the Giants much of a chance coming off last year's 8-8 disappointment, which featured one of the biggest defensive collapses in team history. But I'm not writing off this team just yet. Too much talent on defense, and with excitable new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell replacing the emotionless Bill Sheridan, there should be a marked improvement on that side of the ball. Eli Manning comes off his first 4,000-yard season with a more experienced wide receiver corps. Translation: no reason not to expect a playoff run.

Can Brady lead the Patriots back to Super Bowl grandeur?

Or are the Patriots a team in decline? It's now Year 2 of Tom Brady's recovery from a season-ending knee injury in 2008, and don't ignore the fact that most players see a marked improvement in knee function the second year. The big issue on that side of the ball is whether slot receiver Wes Welker can recover from his own knee injury and be an effective threat.

Is Brett Favre coming back?

Please. My unofficial over-under on his reporting date to the Vikings is Aug. 25. I'll take the over - Aug. 28.

Are Steelers toast because of Roethlisberger's suspension?

Ben Roethlisberger has been suspended for the first six games, although it's likely to be reduced to four. With Byron Leftwich taking over, the Steelers figure to struggle early.

Have the Colts recovered from a Super Bowl hangover?

Let's answer the question this way: The last team to lose a Super Bowl one year and get back to the game the following year was the 1993 Buffalo Bills, who lost in the Super Bowl for the fourth consecutive year in January 1994.

Is Tony Romo a championship quarterback?

This has to be the year that Romo steps up and becomes a reliable player in the playoff crucible. Romo has been generally excellent in the regular season, but his playoff struggles mirror this team's struggles in January. And don't forget the fact that he and coach Wade Phillips have exactly the same number of career playoff wins to their credit: one.

Are the Eagles in for a fall with Kevin Kolb?

It was a bold move not only to trade McNabb but to trade him within the division, especially given that Kolb has minimal experience. Throw in the fact that this entire roster is in transition, and it could be a difficult year for coach Andy Reid.

Can Aaron Rodgers make Packers fans forget Favre?

Rodgers was terrific in Year 2 as the Packers' starter, and there's no reason to think he can't fling the ball around the lot again in 2010. And if Dom Capers' defense can take the next step, Green Bay might be ready for a big year. A really big year.

Will the Chargers be Super Bowl-good?

There's no question Philip Rivers is an elite quarterback. And the addition of rookie running back Ryan Matthews will be a huge boon to the running game. But with a depleted defense and nasty contract issues with tackle Marcus McNeil and receiver Vincent Jackson, it'll be tough.

Are the Saints ready to defend their title?

There hasn't been a Super Bowl repeat since the 2003-04 Patriots, so history is going against a team that put on such a splendid performance last season. Tell you what, though. In an NFC with only a handful of elite teams, it's silly to dismiss the Saints out of hand.

Is the third time the charm for Joe Flacco?

The Ravens' third-year quarterback has been to the playoffs twice and considers this year's team better than the previous two. His receiving corps finally is up to snuff and the defense is terrific.

Can the Cardinals win without Kurt Warner?

One of the NFL's all-time greats has called it a career, leaving Matt Leinart as the starter. No Warner. No Anquan Boldin. No Antrel Rolle. Could be a long year in the desert.

Does Jay Cutler turn it around with Mike Martz calling the shots?

The Bears' quarterback led the NFL with 26 interceptions last season. But now that he's with pass-happy offensive coordinator Mike Martz, he ought to be more productive.

Will there be a lockout in 2011?

I say there will be football next season despite continued labor issues. But no matter what happens at the bargaining table, don't even think about it. Time for football.


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