This summer we had TV's million-dollar quiz show. Today some of the NFL's multimillion-dollar questions begin to be answered.
Here are some of the most relevant ones:
With John Elway retired in Denver and Miami now picked by some to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, will the Dolphins' twin-personality defense play as well on the road as it does at home? Of the seven games the Dolphins lost last year, including the playoff, their average yield was 30 points. For that matter, Miami hasn't won a road playoff game since the undefeated season of 1972.
The Jets have major problems on offense. Until a week ago, one of the key parts of their offense was the use of three first-rate receivers. The opposition was obligated to double-cover both Keyshawn Johnson and Wayne Chrebet, which left speedy Dedric Ward with single coverage. Ward continually hurt the Bills.
Then last weekend Chrebet suffered a broken foot. Now the enemy is able to double both Johnson and Ward. The new third man is 34-year-old Quinn Early, whom the Bills found expendable. Beyond that, neither of the Jets' starting guards ever played a regular-season down in the NFL. An even bigger question is whether Vinny Testaverde has another season in him like last year's ruby.
In Buffalo's case the question is whether the red-zone blues will be sung again, especially in light of the running game's limp performance in the preseason.
The Giants, after spending serious money to sign risky free agent quarterback Kerry Collins, got high-grade performances from veteran Kent Graham in the summer games. Can Graham keep it up? Is he Testaverde Lite?
On performance in the exhibition games, Jacksonville was the most impressive AFC team. Yet the Jaguars' defense finished 25th in the NFL a year ago. Does the hiring of Dom Capers as defensive coordinator mean that much? Will they finally use ex-Bill Bryce Paup correctly?
Has Bill Bidwill, owner of the Arizona Cardinals, gone back to his John-the-Ragman ways? After his team won its first playoff game since 1949, Bidwill stood by and watched left tackle Lomas Brown, linebacker Jamir Miller and fullback Larry Centers get plucked by free-agent raiders. It took some public prodding by young quarterback Jake Plummer before Bidwill finally came to contract terms with wide receiver Rob Moore.
In Pittsburgh the whole season revolves around the question of whether Kordell Stewart is a bona fide NFL quarterback. This summer he looked no better than he did during last season's free fall.
The Seattle owner, Paul Allen, is up in the financial stratosphere with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, but the Seahawks, who missed the playoffs by the length of Testaverde's helmet on 1998's phoniest touchdown, still haven't signed their best player, wide receiver Joey Galloway. Will the new quarterback, Jon Kitna, sink without him?
Can New England, a talented team in the NFL's toughest division, survive the loss through injuries of linebacker Teddy Johnson and running back Robert Edwards, as well as the free-agent defection of its best lineman, center Dave Wohlabaugh? The Pats need injury-prone players like wide receiver Terry Glenn, defensive end Willie McGinest and linebacker Chris Slade to play at least 14 games in order to stay in contention.
The Comeback is back
The current issue of GQ Magazine, devoted entirely to football, contains a retrospective on the Bills' famed "Greatest Comeback" victory in the January 1993 playoff against Houston. The game is seen through the eyes of both the Buffalo and Houston players.
Bills legends get their props
The Sporting News just published a coffee-table book, "Football's 100 Greatest Players," in which many of the game's best of all time pick their personal lists of the top 10.
O.J. Simpson of the Bills made many of the lists. Dwight Stephenson, Miami's Hall of Fame center, picked both Bruce Smith and Fred Smerlas on his list of 10 toughest defensive linemen. Smith made several lists, including No. 3 on Troy Aikman's list of the best defenders he's played against. Hall of Famer Gene Upshaw, president of the Players' Association, put Bruce and O.J. on his list of the 10 best players he's seen.
Andre Reed made the top 10 receivers list of his Hall of Fame coach, Charlie Joiner, as well as No. 4 on Ronnie Lott's rankings of toughest receivers to cover. Guard Larry Little, another Dolphin Hall of Famer, put Reggie McKenzie on his list of guards he most admired. Jack Kemp made the list of John Mackey, the great Colts' tight end.
Three Buffalo coaches, past and present, made lists. Joiner was on several, including No. 1 on that of ex-teammate Kellen Winslow. Sam Huff ranked Jim Ringo, ex-head coach, No. 2 among "most intense offensive linemen." Charley Taylor had Bill Bradley, current defensive backfield coach, on his list of toughest corners to beat, although Bradley made Pro Bowls as a safety.