[size=18px]5 questions + 5 answers[/size]

Last update: July 25, 2006 – 8:09 PM

1. Will T.O. wreck the Cowboys?

Terrell Owens is a disaster off the field. Selfish and greedy, he is destined to infect and/or really tick off those around him (see: San Francisco, Philadelphia, B. Childress).

However...

The root of T.O.'s problems is greed. Everything was fine in 2004 when he was new to Philly. The contract was acceptable and the level of play exceptional all the way through the Super Bowl. Then T.O. wanted more money and, well, that was that. He brought down the Eagles and himself as the world watched ESPN chronicle every millisecond.

T.O. is now in Dallas, saying all the right things -- again. He'll implode eventually, but not this year. Even T.O. waits at least one season to complain about his contract.

Answer: Not this year.

2. Can Big Ben -- and the Steelers -- take a hit?

The defending Super Bowl champion Steelers lost Jerome Bettis, perhaps the best short-yardage weapon in NFL history, to retirement. Then dynamic receiver/returner Antwaan Randle El became a Washington Redskin, while safety Chris Hope joined the Titans.

Then quarterback Ben Roethlisberger crashed his motorcycle in June, suffering broken facial bones, the loss of some teeth and a concussion.

The Steelers are saying Roethlisberger will be ready for the start of the season. Physically, at least.

Mentally, who knows whether he's ready to accept the kind of beating an NFL quarterback must absorb.

Answer: The AFC is too talented for the Steelers to stay on top, even with Roethlisberger. With backup Charlie Batch, forget it. Remember, this was the AFC's sixth seed last year.

3. Will Daunte have the last laugh in Miami?

Right now, the Vikings have no problem convincing their fans that a second-round pick was just fine for Daunte Culpepper. He's coming off a major knee injury, had a terrible 2005 season and wasn't happy with his contract.

Getting rid of him seemed like the only solution. But what happens if Culpepper rebounds in Miami while the Vikings struggle early on with a difficult schedule? When Culpepper was surrounded by Scott Linehan, Randy Moss and a good offensive line, he nearly won the league's MVP award in 2004. In fact, he would have won if Peyton Manning hadn't set the NFL record for touchdown passes in a season.

Answer: We haven't heard the last of Culpepper. The Dolphins won their final six games in 2005 and could be a surprise team this year.

4. How important was/is the Edge(rrin) to the Colts, Cards?

Edgerrin James' move from Indianapolis to Arizona is as intriguing as all the big-name quarterbacks who switched teams this offseason.

The Cardinals ranked No. 1 in passing and No. 32 in rushing last season. James gives them a back with four 1,500-yard rushing seasons over the past seven years.

The Colts, meanwhile, are left with rookie Joseph Addai and career backup Dominic Rhodes to fill the considerable void. Yes, the Colts still have a couple of guys named Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison, but so much of their success depended on the play-action with James.

Answer: The Colts won't be nearly as powerful, but they will make the playoffs because of Manning. James will help the Cards, but a questionable offensive line and an aging Kurt Warner will keep them out of the playoffs.

5. Will 2006 bring redemption or an ugly replay of 2005 for Favre?

Most people who don't wear purple face paint would like to see Brett Favre leave the NFL the way John Elway did: wagging an index finger while holding the Lombardi Trophy aloft during a shower of confetti.

Well, good luck with that one.


Javon Walker is gone. Both starting guards could be rookies. And Ahman Green is coming off a major injury.

Answer: It sure looks like an ugly replay of 2005. Then again, who thought a year ago that the Bears would win the NFC North in 2005?


MARK CRAIG, STAR TRIBUNE

5 questions + 5 answers