Answers to the NFL questions

Tuesday, September 7, 2004 at 1:00am

Let's play a game of 31 questions, where we wonder about every team in the NFL, from Arizona to Washington. Why 31 and not 32? Well, I'm sure you Titans fans have asked all the questions that could be possibly be asked about this team as it enters the 2004 season. So what could I possibly add?

So, here we go with this quick trip around the league.

Arizona: Will they win a game? Well, they might be able to beat San Francisco, but coach Dennis Green must be hallucinating to say his team will play like a playoff contender.

Atlanta: Will Michael Vick stay healthy, and if he does, will he have any clue how to run the West Coast offense? That's what everyone is asking in Atlanta, especially since rookie Matt Schaub looked better than Vick in the preseason.

Baltimore: Can Deion Sanders still play, and will Jamal Lewis' trial be a distraction? Injury is the biggest concern with Sanders. The Ravens' brass is kidding themselves if they think the Lewis situation is no big deal.

Buffalo: Will Travis Henry and Willis McGahee get along? McGahee's agent is Drew Rosenhaus, who loves to stir the pot. One of them won't be with the team in 2005.

Carolina: Can the Panthers win seven games on their final possession again? No, which means they will be in a battle for the playoffs.

Chicago: How can a guy named Lovie be a head football coach? Well, Lovie Smith is an impressive guy despite his name. But he needs a lot more players before the Bears can win.

Cincinnati: How many steps back will the Bengals take with Carson Palmer at quarterback? A few, but they still should be able to be at least .500 again.

Cleveland: How long will it be until Kellen Winslow calls out his teammates again? Probably this week after the Browns lose at home to Baltimore.

Dallas: Why is Bill Parcells entering the season with Tony Romo as the backup to Vinny Testaverde? This is a disaster waiting to happen.

Denver: Can 5-7 Quentin Griffin handle the load at running back for the Broncos? Denver's backs always do well, but they also get hurt. It won't be long until that happens to Griffin.

Detroit: When will the Lions win a road game? Their last one was Dec. 17, 2000 and since then there have been 24 straight losses. Sunday at Chicago might be their best chance.

Green Bay: When will Brett Favre miss a game? After he retires. He is establishing football's unbreakable record.

Houston: Are the Texans really on the rise? Yes, but the division is just too tough.

Indianapolis: What will keep the Colts from getting to the Super Bowl? Defense, and not getting home-field advantage in the playoffs. They need to play on their carpet in the postseason.

Jacksonville: Might the defense be one of the league's best? Yes. Jack Del Rio demands it, and the signs were there at the end of the 2003 season.

Kansas City: Is Gunther Cunningham the answer to the Chiefs' defensive woes? He's a help, but it still comes down to players making plays.

Miami: What else can go wrong with the Dolphins? Not much, but Ricky Williams could have a team party that results in 53 suspensions for second-hand smoke.

Minnesota: Why is everyone jumping on the Vikings' bandwagon? Good question. They still have too many defensive holes.

New England: Is this team a dynasty? Hardly. They've won two Super Bowls in the final seconds and didn't make the playoffs in 2002.

New Orleans: Will they start slow or finish poorly? Take your pick.

N.Y. Giants: How long will Kurt Warner last as the starting quarterback? Not long. Fans will be chanting for Eli in the Sept. 19 home opener.

N.Y. Jets: Can Curtis Martin defy the skeptics that question over-30 runners? He might be the one to crush the formula.

Oakland: Who will be the Raiders' surprise? Running back Tyrone Wheatley. Watch him run over defenders.

Philadelphia: Will Terrell Owens and Jevon Kearse get the Eagles to the Super Bowl? No.

Pittsburgh: Are the Steelers a running team again? Yes, and they will challenge for the division title.

St. Louis: Will Isaac Bruce have his jersey tugged by defenders anymore? Not if the officials call penalties now. Bruce should be a big beneficiary.

San Diego: Will the Chargers have the No. 1 pick in the draft again? Yes, because LaDainian Tomlinson can't win games by himself.

San Francisco: Is Dennis Erickson second-guessing himself for taking this job? Yes. The Niners are a mess and offensively challenged.

Seattle: Are the Seahawks really Super Bowl caliber? Only if they can stop the run and win on the road.

Tampa Bay: What will life be like without Warren Sapp? Quieter, but not as successful.

Washington: When will Joe Gibbs regret taking this job? When owner Dan Snyder freaks out after a loss.

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