Is Drew Bledsoe a Hall of Famer? Which early-season game will tell us the most? Which team has the toughest first four games? Our experts tackle those questions in our weekly Burning Questions.
1. Is Drew Bledsoe a Hall of Famer?
Eric Allen: I'm not sure Bledsoe is a Hall of Fame quarterback. While he was one of the best quarterbacks in the game for a few seasons, he only really led one team to the Super Bowl, and lost that one. He did put up very big numbers, but his severe lack of mobility may hinder his ability to make it to the Hall of Fame. Defenses knew going into every game he could be gotten to if a decent rush was given, because he didn't have decent footwork to move around in the pocket.
Joe Theismann: Who knows what the Hall of Fame voters are thinking when they enter that room, but in my estimation, he's a Hall of Fame quarterback. He put up great numbers, helped make every team he was on a playoff contender, went to two Super Bowls, and was consistently considered one of the top quarterbacks in the game throughout his career. He may not be first ballot, but he deserves to be in the Hall.
2. Which early-season game will tell us the most?
Allen: San Diego visiting New England is going to be the most telling game of the early part of the schedule. The Patriots made a lot of big moves in the offseason to improve their passing game and linebacking corps. So it's going to be very interesting to see how they mesh against what should be one of the best teams in the NFL.
On the other hand, San Diego has had an offseason of turmoil, losing its head coach and both coordinators. This is going to be a major test for new head coach Norv Turner in only the second week of the season.
Theismann: The first game of the season, pitting the Saints versus the Colts, will tell us a lot about these two teams. The Saints haven't done a whole lot this offseason, but still have the ability to be one of the best teams in the NFC. They just have to realize that for the entire season they are going to have to deal with having a major target on their backs, which isn't something most of these players are used to dealing with.
On the flip side, the Colts have to battle the apathy that can doom every defending Super Bowl champion. It's tough defending a title, because you're the target for every team and every game has that playoff intensity. It is going to be interesting to see how the Colts face a great football team when the world is watching.
3. Which team has the toughest first four games?
Allen: The Buffalo Bills must have upset someone in the NFL's scheduling office because they have the toughest opening schedule in the league. They start off at home against Denver, then travel to Pittsburgh and New England before going back home to play the Jets. That's four playoff-caliber teams.
Theismann: Cincinnati starts out at home against a tough Baltimore team, then travels to Cleveland to face a Browns team that could be surprisingly good, and to Seattle to face a team that could contend for the NFC crown, before returning back home to face the Patriots. That's a tough four-game stretch at any point during the season, much less during a time when the Bengals will be without Chris Henry due to a suspension.