With NFL training camps opening in a little more than two weeks, it's time to dive into all the juicy storylines we've watched develop throughout the long offseason. Here's my ranking of the league's eight divisions, based on the sizzle factor of their top five subplots. Consider it a primer on the 40 hottest topics of the coming NFL season.
1. Stop me if you've heard this one before: Brett Favre will try to get a ring and a little revenge at the same time. In Minnesota, no less.
2. Cutler gives Chicago a top-notch quarterback for the first time since Sid Luckman retired.
3. Will the Lions ever win another game? It's 17 losses and counting in Detroit, meaning rookie head coach Jim Schwartz can go 1-15 and claim first-year success.
4. Rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford will start for Detroit this season. The question is: How soon will the Lions throw their No. 1 pick to the, uh ... rest of the league?
5. Once Favre becomes a Viking, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers will be the division's longest-tenured starting quarterback, in terms of continuous service with one team. You can look it up.
1. Not to overstate this, but the outcome of the entire 2009 NFL season could hinge on the state of Tom Brady's surgically repaired left knee.
2.Terrell Owens will spread his unique brand of sunshine in Buffalo, where it's usually quite cloudy and gray for most of the fall and winter.
3. If nothing else, the Jets won't play boring football. It'll be fun watching rookie head coach Rex Ryan try to back up his brash offseason talk and make a playoff team out of these Jets.
4. Speaking of great expectations, the Jets hope rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez turns into the next Joe Namath and not the next Richard Todd.
5. What can Miami and Chad Pennington possibly do to top their magic carpet ride of 2008?
1. With a new general manager, head coach and starting quarterback, the Chiefs hope their total makeover pays immediate dividends the way Atlanta's did last season.
2. After a rocky offseason, rookie head coach Josh McDaniels needs to prove he's up to the big job he landed in Denver.
3.Kyle Orton used to be in Chicago. Jay Cutler used to be in Denver. We're waiting to discover if the Broncos are better or worse for the switch.
4.Tom Cable says he's the guy who can end Oakland's long nightmare, but that won't happen unless quarterback JaMarcus Russell takes a big step in Year 3.
5. The Chargers and LaDainian Tomlinson are still together. Now they have to prove celebrity breakups aren't inevitable these days.
1. The Browns lacked both discipline and victories last season. New head coach Eric Mangini must supply a bunch more of both in Cleveland.
2. Baltimore's Joe Flacco finished just one game shy of the Super Bowl as a rookie quarterback. Talk about a tough encore.
3. The last time the Steelers were coming off a Super Bowl win, they went 8-8 and missed the playoffs in 2006. Coach Mike Tomlin must prevent Pittsburgh from getting fat or sassy.
4. It's time for Cleveland to find out what it has in Brady Quinn. If Derek Anderson wins the Browns' starting QB job, it won't be good news.
5. It's a make or break season for just about everyone in Cincinnati, starting with the receiver formerly known as Chad Johnson.
1.Tony Romo and Wade Phillips don't need the reminder, but it's time to win (a playoff game or two) in Dallas. Can't blame you-know-who any more.
2. Is Albert Haynesworth destined to be another high-priced free-agent disappointment for the Redskins?
3.Jason Campbell is still the guy in Washington -- at least until someone better comes along. That might wind up being the problem in D.C.
4. The Eagles lost a ton of veteran leadership, but may have gained even more in talent. Will the gains impact their season more than the losses?
5. The Giants couldn't figure out how to replace Plaxico Burress' production late last season. Did the offseason really solve that problem?
1. The Falcons and rookie quarterback Matt Ryan put together a storybook 2008 season, but everything's going to be tougher this time around, starting with the schedule.
2. The Saints remain a defense away from Super Bowl contention, which is where new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams comes in.
3. Tampa Bay's whiz kids -- head coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik -- can't afford much on-the-job training in one of the NFL's deepest divisions.
4. If Carolina's Jake Delhomme can't get over his playoff game meltdown, the Panthers will continue their pattern of being up one season and down the next.
5. Can rookie quarterback Josh Freeman really make a run at the Bucs starting quarterback job?
1. For the Colts, continuity is out and change is in. But will the new look in Indianapolis translate to the status quo in the win column?
2. Even if Kerry Collins returns strong, the Titans need Vince Young to grow up and get back into the picture at quarterback. Or else.
3. In the franchise's eighth year, it's time for Houston to finally stop teasing everyone with those 8-8 records and make a playoff run.
4. If numerous offseason changes don't improve the Jaguars' chemistry issues, coach Jack Del Rio's job status will be a topic from day one in 2009.
5. The Colts released Marvin Harrison in February, which means the No. 3 receiver spot behind Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez is wide open. Pierre Garcon, Roy Hall and Austin Collie will have to try to replace a hall-of-fame talent.
1. In the NFL's weakest division, a two-game improvement can punch a playoff ticket. That means Mike Singletary can build on his successful interim head coaching stint and make the 49ers relevant again.
2. Seven of eight Super Bowl losers this decade have failed to make the playoffs the following season. Will the Cardinals make it eight of nine?
3. The last time Jim Mora debuted as a team's head coach, he led the 2004 Falcons all the way to the NFC title game. Seattle hopes another big first season awaits.
4. It's a big year for Matt Leinart. Either he finds a way to push Kurt Warner in Arizona, or we start to think of the Cardinals' 2006 first-rounder as a top 10 bust.
5. The dawn of the Michael Crabtree era in San Francisco is at hand. Opinions vary greatly on the former Texas Tech receiver, but he could make teams that passed on him in the draft pay immediately, à la Randy Moss in 1998.