Happy July 4th
Happy July 4th! Enjoy the bounties of this American celebration.
And what is more American than football? NFL training camps open later this month, so we’ll do a quick profile of the AFC and the NFC Tuesday and Wednesday to get you prepared for another great season.
Today: The AFC
Team to beat: The New England Patriots. The Super Bowl champions improved their roster over the one that produced a 14-2 record without Tom Brady for the first four games. This could be scary.
Team to watch: The Oakland Raiders. QB David Carr is healthy again and the Raiders coaxed running back Marshawn Lynch out of retirement to play in his hometown. Khalil Mack anchors a tough defense. The Raiders should win the AFC West easily unless the Denver Broncos somehow figure out their QB situation.
Team on the rise: The Cleveland Browns. They have nowhere to go but up after a 1-15 slog. Personnel is better and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will get that group playing at a much higher level. Keep an eye on rookie DE Myles Garrett, the first pick in the draft. Will the Browns compete for the AFC North title? No. But they will compete.
Team on the decline: The New York Jets. They dumped receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker and LB David Harris, their all-time leading tacklers. They appear to be angling for the first overall pick in the 2018 draft and they just might get it. The QB situation is a complete mess, with 37-year-old Josh McCown the top contender to start.
Coaches on the hot seat: The Jets’ Todd Bowles, Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman