1. Was the Saints' inspiring Super Bowl victory a one-off?
No, they're for real. QB Drew Brees and coach Sean Payton had career seasons, but they have the ability to sustain it. Former Hofstra WR Marques Colston has proven himself as a clutch receiver. Many have questioned the defense, and aging S Darren Sharper is coming off arthroscopic microfracture knee surgery, but coordinator Gregg Williams is among the best at finding ways to pressure the passer.
2. Why did the Colts mess with perfection?
Coach Jim Caldwell will say it wasn't worth the risk to expose Peyton Manning to injury longer than necessary while losing the final two games of the season after a 14-0 start. He should reconsider that philosophy rather than disrupt the offense again before the playoffs. If he does, the Colts might be unstoppable this season with young WRs Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie helping reliable Reggie Wayne and with RB Donald Brown pushing veteran Joseph Addai.
How indeed. The chance of QB Kevin Kolb accomplishing as much as McNabb did for the Eagles is remote. But give new Redskins coach Mike Shanahan a veteran passer such as McNabb, and he might turn around that misguided franchise in a hurry at the expense of the Eagles, not to mention the Giants. Washington visits Philly on Oct. 3 in a must-see game.
Yes, big-time. If his bodyguards are supposed to keep him out of trouble, they did a pretty bad job. Roethlisberger avoided prosecution for allegations of sexual assault, but he couldn't avoid the long arm of commissioner Roger Goodell, who suspended him 4-6 games for violating the conduct policy. It's up to backup QB Byron Leftwich to save the season from going down the drain early.
5. Are reports of Brett Favre's retirement still premature?
It looks that way. He's slinging the pigskin with high school kids down in Mississippi, which is part of his comeback ritual. It might be poetic if Favre had walked away after taking the Vikings to overtime of the NFC title game, but after a season with 33 TD passes and a 107.3 QB rating, you can't say he's squeezed the lemon dry.
6. Will the Cowboys have to buy tickets to a Super Bowl in Dallas?
Yes, but only for family and friends. They should get in free and show up in their uniforms. They were 11-5 last year and won a playoff game over the Eagles before getting blitzed by Favre and the Vikings. QB Tony Romo is ready for the next step, and OLB DeMarcus Ware leads a defense that held 11 opponents to 17 points or less. They're geared to become the first team to play a Super Bowl on their home field.
7. Where is this season's sleeper team coming from?
Tennessee. The Titans were considered a playoff contender last season until they came out of the gate 0-6 with Kerry Collins at QB. When the owner ordered coach Jeff Fisher to play QB Vince Young, he showed the wondrous athletic gifts he displayed in college at Texas to complement 2,000-yard rusher Chris Johnson. The Titans' 8-2 finish was no mirage. They're tough.
Definitely. Dolphins QB Chad Henne was quite proficient last season, and when you give him a deep threat to go along with Miami's running game and Wildcat offense, it spells more trouble for the Jets, who were swept by the Fish last season. At least the Jets won't have to worry about stopping WR Ted Ginn, whose two 100-yard kickoff returns last year beat them at home. He was traded to San Francisco after Marshall arrived.
9. Why does everyone but Favre like Green Bay in the NFC?
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers puts up the numbers. His 30 TD passes and 103.2 QB rating ranked right behind Favre's numbers. Trouble is the Packers lost both "revenge" games against Favre's Vikings last season, and a have defense that gave up at least 30 points five times in the regular season and 51 in a playoff loss to Arizona. Unless that changes, the Packers are pretenders, not contenders.
10. Was former Jets coach Pete Carroll crazy to leave USC after so much success?
No, because he doesn't have to worry about recruiting violations in the NFL. Carroll got out just ahead of then NCAA posse, which slapped the Trojans with various sanctions, including a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships. It's up to Lane Kiffin to clean up Carroll's mess. Carroll gets to clean up the one left by Jim Mora after one year with the Seahawks. It will be interesting to see if Carroll's act plays better in the NFL than it did in his first two mediocre stints with the Jets and Patriots (33-31).