2005 NFL Preview
NFL 2005
Their bibles are team-issued binders crammed with hundreds of meticulously designed plays. Their mission is to change their teams' fortunes in the blink of an eye. They stretch to the first-down marker on third-and-long. They make the stop on fourth-and-inches. They are PLAYMAKERS
Going by The Book
So you think playbooks are just diagrams with lines going this way and that? You'll be amazed at what coaches stuff in them and how much the poor player has to learn
Anatomy of an NFL Play
Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Fassel doesn't waste any time, installing one of his favorites, PFB Double Square Out, on Day One
NFL 2005 Wideouts
They're bold and brash, and with the trend toward multireceiver sets, there are more of them than ever--and they all want the ball. When the pass arrives, be it on a slant or a deep post, something electrifying tends to happen
NFL 2005 Safeties
They are the new wave of defensive stars, delivering bone-jarring hits in run support and patrolling the middle of the field in coverage. And when they get their hands on the ball, watch out!
1 New England Patriots
Never mind that both coordinators and a pair of starting linebackers had to be replaced. Nothing seems to rattle the two-time defending champs
2 New York Jets
Chad Pennington's tender shoulder ... a big hole at nosetackle.... Such pivotal issues will decide whether this club goes far in the postseason
3 Buffalo Bills
After finishing strong in '04, a team with savvy veterans puts its fate in the hands of a 24-year-old quarterback who has thrown five NFL passes
4 Miami Dolphins
Trying to jump-start the run game, Nick Saban hired a respected line coach, welcomed back a familiar face and added a versatile rookie
1 Baltimore Ravens
Everybody is terrified of their defense, but can Kyle Boller strike fear into opposing secondaries? He finally has the receiving weapons to do it
2 Pittsburgh Steelers
After his sensational rookie season, what can Ben Roethlisberger possibly do for an encore? Well, there is one thing ... get to the Super Bowl
4 Cleveland Browns
Still trying to get its act together, the six-year-old franchise looks for leadership from a rookie coach and a veteran quarterback with Super Bowl savvy
1 Indianapolis COLTS
It's business as usual for Peyton Manning and the high-scoring offense, but for this team to get past the Patriots, the defense has to raise its game
2 Jacksonville JAGUARS
A new coordinator takes the chains off the offense, installing a quick-strike attack that emphasizes long passes and putting a lot of points on the board
3 Houston TEXANS
Having ably played the role of expansion-team celebrity, it's time for David Carr to fulfill his promise on the field by getting into the playoffs
4 Tennessee TITANS
After 32 years and great success in the college game, new offensive coordinator Norm Chow is daring to make a difference in the NFL
1 Kansas City Chiefs
A new arrival, elite corner Patrick Surtain, gives the revamped defense an identity--and the team the jolt it needs to finally get to the Super Bowl
2 San Diego Chargers
Rejuvenated linebacker Steve Foley and the defending division champions are bent on proving that their startling 2004 was no fluke
3 Denver Broncos
In a city where expectations run mile-high, the pressure is mounting on passer Jake Plummer to lead his team deep into the postseason
4 Oakland RAIDERS
All eyes are on Randy Moss, but success could hinge on whether another new player, former Jet LaMont Jordan, can revive the ground game
1. Philadelphia Eagles
A lesser team would wilt from the heat and tension of this summer soap opera, but Andy Reid will get his fractious bunch back to the playoffs
2 Dallas Cowboys
Bill Parcells hopes to re-create some of his old magic with a return to his preferred defensive scheme and the addition of some hungry players
3. New York Giants
They'll go as far as their franchise quarterback takes them--just don't expect Eli Manning to play like his famous brother. At least, not yet
4 Washington Redskins
The ball is still in Patrick Ramsey's hands, but there are two other options at quarterback if the offense sputters as it did a year ago
1 Minnesota Vikings
The defense has been fortified and a major distraction is gone, but Mike Tice & Co. still have to prove they can finish what they start
2 Green Bay Packers
The front office underwent a shake-up, but the defense--which was in dire need of one, too--will have to get better with the same players
3 Detroit Lions
Whether he'll admit it or not, Joey Harrington is entering a make-or-break season for a team that needs his arm to make the jump to the playoffs
4 Chicago Bears
All-Pro wideout Muhsin Muhammad is a major addition to an offense that was the league's worst in '04, but who's going to get him the ball?
1 Carolina Panthers
Defensive end extraordinaire Julius Peppers and the return to health of a handful of stars make this club the team to beat in the NFC
2 Atlanta Falcons
If young deep threats Michael Jenkins and Roddy White get open and make plays, they will add another dimension to Michael Vick's game
3 New Orleans Saints
Coach Jim Haslett is getting back to the basics with the emphasis on a ground game bolstered by two new faces on the right side of the line
4 Tampa Bay Bucs
A rejuvenated Brian Griese and a new Cadillac will drive the offense, but the lanes may be clogged because of a suspect offensive line
1 St. Louis Rams
With bruising back Steven Jackson and other talented young starters getting comfortable in the offense, Mike Martz's team has its swagger back
2 Seattle Seahawks
The quick development of a young secondary, including converted safety Michael Boulware, will be key to a defensive turnaround
4 San Francisco 49ers
This up-and-down franchise is counting on its new-look defense to lay the groundwork for a return to respectability. It may take a while
Sports Illustrated: Bonus Flashback
Inside Baseball
Crunch Time
Twelve (contenders) doesn't go into five (postseason spots up for grabs), so which teams will make the cut?
Inside The WNBA
Title Role
The sharpshooting of newcomer Nicole Powell could decide whether Sacramento finally makes the finals
Inside College Football
New Top Dawg
After sitting behind David Greene for four years, quarterback D.J. Shockley finally gets the chance to lead Georgia
A French paper has joined the chorus of critics who say Lance Armstrong cheated his way to those Tour de France titles. Expect the Texan to weather the storm
Q+A: George Lopez
The fifth season of the comedian and Dodgers fan's sitcom, George Lopez, starts on Sept. 28 on ABC
Rating the Ballparks
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