Every year heading into the NFL season, there are hot topics of discussion leading the tabloids. Let’s face it; fans love to talk about America’s favorite sport. Last year, it was all about Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension, Donovan McNabb’s surprising trade to the Washington Redskins, and the return of Brett Favre from retirement. But what’s circulating around the league this year? Here’s my list of the Top 10 biggest storylines of the 2011 NFL season.

Impact of the Lockout

After dominating Sportscenter for the good part of four months, you knew this was coming. Even though the lockout has been lifted and football is back in full swing, we’ve still yet to see the real on-field implications its brought upon us. Injuries have already sidelined key players and we should expect a hamstring fest in the coming weeks. Will the talent level drop to a level where it’s unsatisfactory? Will we see a replica of last year’s outcomes? Will rookies and players that switched teams over the offseason struggle to get adjusted in comparison to previous years? We’ll just have to wait and see to find out.

Cam Newton

With becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, you not only receive a hefty contract but you also get bestowed with heavy responsibility of turning around a franchise in major need of assistance and all the scrutiny that comes with it. Leading up the draft, everyone evaluated Cam Newton and whether or not he was deserving of the top pick. Right or wrong, now that he is, it’s time to project how he will perform with the Carolina Panthers. Everyone will be watching his every move in the NFL, and he better be ready.

Eagles ‘Dream Team’

The Philadelphia Eagles made not only the biggest splash in free agency by signing Nnamdi Asomugha, but made the most headline grabbing moves, so there’s no way they miss this list. Vince Young said it best calling the Eagles the ‘Dream Team’. There’s so much hype surrounding this team and the question is, will they live up to it?

Packers Repeat

Every year we ask what the chances are that a team will repeat as Super Bowl Champions. This year’s no different; so will Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy for Super Bowl XLVI? It’s only been done seven times in league history, so the odds are against them. But the nucleus of talent returns and we’ve seen crazier things happen in the NFL before, so don’t count them out.

Tim Tebow

When the Denver Broncos drafted former Florida Gators star quarterback Tim Tebow, the breaking news spread like wildfire and soon he had the top selling jersey in the league. While most of the discussion was related to the shock and hype around his name, this year’s a bit of a different story. Even though fans still adore him, Tebow is currently in a position battle with Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn for the starting quarterback job. Based on his play, he certainly hasn’t proven himself, be he is the popular choice. Will we seem him anointed the starter at some point through the season? I wouldn’t be surprised.

NFC West

Maybe its just me but the fact that a team with a losing record qualified for the playoffs is unjust, especially when teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants deserved it more. Of course, the Seattle Seahawks did validate it by upsetting the New Orleans Saints, but still it’s debatable. Anyways, if they don’t pick up their game, then I wouldn’t be surprised to see either a division switch or a new rule established after them.

Redemption Year?

The Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings, both teams that won their respective divisions in 2009, took a free fall last year for various reasons whether it be injuries or a lack of discipline. Either way, they both hired interim head coaches and will be looking to regain their composure. While it’s going to be tough to get back into Super Bowl contention, I could see them making a push for the playoffs at the very least. Both teams made significant moves and should be improved over last year’s debacle.


The New England Patriots had a marvelous season, but it fell short as they lost to the New York Jets in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. With that being so, they came into this offseason knowing they had to make some moves if they hoped to stay at the pinnacle of the NFL. As a result, they brought in Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth, both of whom are troubled players from a character perspective but have endless potential to be Pro Bowl caliber performers. Which they get will be determined by how the organization handles the situation, but if they can achieve the latter then they could be right back in it come playoff time.

Carson Palmer

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback and 2002 No. 1 overall pick Carson Palmer has made it very clear that he demands a trade or release from the team or he will retire. So far he’s stuck to his words and so had owner Mike Brown who repeatedly expressed his stubbornness to move Palmer. In fact, the team has already drafted his apparent successor in Andy Dalton, but refuses to grant Palmer his wish. While I think it’s a foolish move on the Bengals part, this is a situation that could go on into the season. Let’s say Palmer decides that he wants to continue playing football, or if a team loses a quarterback and is in desperate need of veteran services, how will this all play out? It’s quieted down over the past few weeks, but this is something to keep at the back of your mind.

Terrelle Pryor

The Oakland Raiders continued their unorthodox drafting ways when they selected Terrelle Pryor in the supplemental draft, giving up next year’s third round pick in the process. Scouts and analysts have showed little confidence that Pryor can be a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL, but clearly the Raiders feel otherwise. The former Ohio State Buckeyes star is suspended for the first five games of the season due to NCAA violations, but it’ll be interesting to see if he gets on the field even after his return.

Quarterbacks on the Move

In a pass-heavy league, having quality quarterback play is critical for any level of success in the NFL. Several teams drafted a signal caller early this year, even though most don’t possess a skillset that makes them ready for the pro game. However, some like Cam Newton or Andy Dalton will be forced to play from the start. Others like Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder will have the luxury of learning behind a veteran; not to mention the option to hand it off to three of the best running backs in the game. The Titans picked up Matt Hasselbeck and the Vikings traded for Donovan McNabb with the hope that they can be a stop-gap solution before their rookies develop. Moreover, the Cardinals dealt for Kevin Kolb and awarded him a $63 million contract. So many quarterbacks, among other positions, were on the move and I can’t wait to see what type of an impact they all have with their new ball clubs.


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