Welcome back from your July 4th holiday. The blog hopes you enjoyed it fully and are now happy to be at your desk again (ack!).
With NFL training camps opening later this month, we took a quick look at the AFC in Tuesday’s blog. Moving right along…
Today: The NFC
Team to beat: Seattle Seahawks. Only the Arizona Cardinals can challenge them in the NFC West and their home-field advantage generally yields an 8-0 or 7-1 mark. If they split on the road, they’re the division winner and should have a home playoff game. Running back Eddie Lacy gets an improved offensive line to run behind.
Team to watch: Washington Redskins. QB Kirk Cousins is in what amounts to a contract year. The Redskins looked as if they would repeat as NFC East champions before losing four of their last six games, especially a 19-10 disaster at home against the New York Giants that cost them a playoff berth. Then they let WRs DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon walk. Win or lose, they will be fascinating to follow.
Team on the rise: Tampa Bay Buccaneers. QB Jameis Winston will continue to make strides in his third season and gets another deep threat in Jackson, formerly of Washington.
Team on the decline: Detroit Lions. They wasted a five-game winning streak by dropping their last two games and they do not seem to have improved. They’re not good enough to catch the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North and they need to make the playoffs to save their coach’s job.
Coaches on the hot seat: John Fox of the Chicago Bears, Jim Caldwell of the Lions.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman