#5 – Will the Rams be able to mount any kind of passing attack to take the pressure off of Todd Gurley?
Gurley may be one of the most special backs the league has seen in a long time. The thing that could hinder him is constant nine-man fronts.
If the Rams have any kind of passing attack, it could go a long way in helping Gurley’s development and to building a stable offense in Los Angeles.
Tavon Austin can be a threat, but he doesn’t seem to get enough targets. Kenny Britt is hit or miss as well. The other options are fourth round pick Pharaoh Cooper, tight end Lance Kendricks and Brian Quick.
Quarterback Case Keenum needs to find a bond with one or two of these guys and get the passing attack working in order for the Rams to have any success this year.
#4 – Will Blaine Gabbert be able to revive the 49ers offense?
While most pundits are probably correct that the skill positions are where San Francisco is lacking, the offensive line is quietly becoming a strength. Anthony Davis is not only back, but he is the new right guard, paving the way for second year mammoth Trent Brown at right tackle. Rookie Joshua Garnett is set to take the left guard spot, while veterans Joe Staley and Daniel Kilgore will solidify the line at left tackle and center, respectively. This is a much better unit than last year and should give Gabbert time to find open receivers.
The question is, who will get open? Carlos Hyde should be able to run effectively, but the Niners will be counting on big plays from Torrey Smith, reliable tight end play from Garrett Celek and Vance McDonald, and perhaps most importantly, anything from Quinton Patton.
If the offensive line play is better, it is possible that the 49ers, while not a playoff team, could be better than many think.
#3 – Does Jimmy Graham make more of impact in 2016?
Jimmy Graham was the missing piece to the puzzle, or so Seattle thought last season. He is coming off an injury, but the Seahawks look poised to expand their passing attack that looked great at the end of 2015.
He has the size and the hands that could be a real matchup problem for defenses. The big question mark is, does he truly fit this offense?
If he does, he could have a big season.
#2 – Can the Cardinals get one more big season from Carson Palmer?
Palmer was an MVP candidate in 2015 and is poised for another big year. The Cardinals added veteran guard Evan Mathis in free agency and with the likely emergence of David Johnson, Arizona’s arsenal is stocked.
If upright, Palmer should have another big season and that could spell a Super Bowl berth for what appears to be the most complete team in the NFC.
#1 – Will Seattle’s offensive line prevent them from making a run?
This is probably the most common criticism for the Seahawks. Max Unger is gone. Russell Okung is gone. The Jahri Evans experiment failed. The line is led by rookie Germain Ifedi and J’Marcus Webb.
While it’s certainly possible that the line issues won’t be a problem, it’s more likely that it will hinder the offense and Beast Mode is no longer around to pick up the slack.
Russell Wilson is more than capable of offsetting some of the weaknesses on the line, so it’s not like they won’t have a good year, but this could be an issue in the playoffs.