Arizona Cardinals – Is Carson Palmer Finished?
A disappointing 2016 has put the Cardinals in a peculiar place. Their roster is fairly similar to the one that was one game away from a Super Bowl bid two seasons ago. The elephant in the room is the sharp decline of veteran QB Carson Palmer. Arizona’s signal-caller took a massive step back from a production standpoint following his stellar 2015 campaign. He boasted his worst completion percentage since joining the Cardinals, and turned the ball over a remarkable 28 times. His signature throwing power seems to have left him, as his average yards per attempt dropped from 8.7 from the previous season to 7.1 in 2016. The Cards don’t have any choices behind Palmer, making his health and productivity imperative to their success.
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Atlanta Falcons – Will They Suffer a Super Bowl Hangover?
Losing in the playoffs hurts. Losing in the Super Bowl hurts even more. Losing a 28-3 lead in the last twenty minutes of the Super Bowl? That’s unimaginably painful. Even the most talented of teams would struggle bouncing back from a collapse like the Falcons did in Super Bowl LI. Reigning MVP Matt Ryan will attempt to get this team back on track and capture another NFC South title. We know guys like Ryan and Julio Jones will be relatively unfazed by the terrible loss, but are we so sure that we can say the same for the rest of the team?
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Baltimore Ravens – Is Joe Flacco Healthy?
Baltimore will be without its starting QB for the entirety of the preseason. A preexisting back injury has kept Flacco sidelined throughout training camp, and there doesn’t seem to be a definitive timetable for when he’ll return. If Flacco is forced to miss any regular season time, it’s a cause for concern. He’s missed just six games (all in 2015) in his entire nine-year career. Back injuries can be tricky though, and the way in which Baltimore handles the rehab will have a drastic effect on their season. Without Flacco, this Ravens offense goes from passable to one of the very worst in the league.
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Buffalo Bills – Can Their Receivers Make Any Plays?
With Sammy Watkins out of town, this Bills receiving group lacks a true No. 1 option. Jordan Matthews was a steady contributor during his time in Philly, but lacks the elite characteristics of a top wide receiver. Veteran Brandon Tate isn’t much more than a return man. Former Raiders Andre Holmes and Rod Streater could never breakthrough in Oakland (and that was with a better quarterback). Rookie Zay Jones could be leaned on heavily. However, first-year receivers often struggle to get their footing at the NFL level. QB Tyrod Taylor will be earning his next contract this year, as his crew of receiving threats are one of the thinnest talent-wise in the league.
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