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10 NFL storylines to watch for this season

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talks with Ezekiel

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talks with Ezekiel Elliott before the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Packers at AT&T Stadium on Jan. 15, 2017. Credit: Getty Images/Joe Robbins

PASS INTERFERENCE NOW REVIEWABLE

After years of resisting the idea of having penalties subject to replay review, the NFL will now include pass interference. Thanks to the missed pass interference call in last season's Rams-Saints NFC Championship Game, owners finally relented. The system isn’t perfect, and there is sure to be controversy, but the NFL is hoping it’s one more way of making sure the final calls are correct. Buckle up for this one.

CLEVELAND: CENTER OF THE NFL UNIVERSE?

The Browns are the must-see team of 2019. With outspoken quarterback Baker Mayfield now throwing to outspoken wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and with a bunch of other big-personality players in the mix, the Browns have been the most talked about team in the preseason. Now we see if they live up to the hype.

BOOM-OR-BEST RAIDERS

Jon Gruden came out of retirement last year and signed a 10-year contract, and he’s all in on 2019. The question is: Can the Raiders be a factor in the AFC West, especially now that mercurial receiver Antonio Brown is in town, or is this a meltdown in the making for the team’s final season in Oakland before next year’s move to Las Vegas?

THE PATRIOTS AGAIN?

In a league where change is almost always inevitable, the Patriots are an incredible example of continuity. It’s now Year 20 of the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady alliance, and with the Patriots coming off a remarkable sixth Super Bowl title, there’s no reason to think they won’t be a factor yet again in the championship equation.

CAN PATRICK MAHOMES OUTDO HIMSELF?

The Chiefs’ star quarterback burst onto the scene last year in his first full season as a starter, winning MVP honors after throwing a remarkable 50 touchdown passes. The Chiefs’ offense is still loaded at the skill positions, so Mahomes has every chance for an encore performance – unless defensive coordinators have figured out something that can at least contain the All-Pro passer.

SAM DARNOLD AS THE ANSWER TO ADAM GASE'S PROBLEMS

The Jets are giving Adam Gase another shot after his three-year run in Miami, but this time, the coach has a quarterback who seems legitimately good. Darnold has a much higher ceiling than former Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, so Gase now gets to operate his offense with the kind of quarterback who can turn him into a consistent winner.

DANIEL JONES AS THE ANSWER TO THE GIANTS' PROBLEMS

It seems only a matter of time before rookie quarterback Daniel Jones takes the reins from Eli Manning, a remarkably similar scenario to Manning’s rookie season in 2004, when he took over for veteran Kurt Warner midway through the season. Manning will do his best to keep Jones on the bench as long as possible. Just not quite sure how long – or short – that might be.

THE BOY WONDER COACH NOW FIGHTS HISTORY

Sean McVay had a terrific year in getting the Rams to the Super Bowl last season, but now comes the hard part. Only once since the 1993 Bills has a team lost the Super Bowl one year and gone back to the Big Show the next. And that was last year’s Patriots, who beat McVay’s team in Super Bowl LIII.

KYLER MURRAY AS THE NEXT BIG THING

The Cardinals ditched the Josh Rosen era after just one year because newly hired coach Kliff Kingsbury believes Murray can reinvent the way offense is played in the NFL. Kingsbury recruited Murray out of high school and now gets the chance to see if the quarterback can make the coach’s “Air Raid” offense work in the pros. 

DO THE COWBOYS PUT IT ALL TOGETHER?

Can this (finally) be the year of the Cowboys? Owner Jerry Jones hasn’t won a Super Bowl since Barry Switzer rode Jimmy Johnson’s coattails to the championship nearly a quarter century ago, but the Cowboys believe they have the makings of a winner. The Ezekiel Elliott holdout certainly puts pressure on that thinking, but Jones is a gambling man who still likes his chances.

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