Tampa Bay Bucs: It’s difficult to consistently win if you turn the ball over, and Jameis Winston has been a turnover machine. Eighteen as a rookie (15 INT, 3 fumbles) and 24 last year (18 INT, six fumbles). The sluggish offense added TE OJ Howard and WR DeSean Jackson. Last year the Bucs won in Atlanta and Kansas City, beat the Seahawks, and swept Cam Newton.
Cincinnati Bengals (6-9-1): They missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010, but AJ Green only played 10 games (hamstring), and so did RB Gio Bernard. TE Tyler Eifert missed eight games. They lost two OL in the offseason. Tough to say rookies will be the key, but they need RB Joe Mixon to be a factor, and WR John Ross to stretch the field for Green and Eifert. If they miss the playoffs again, it’s tough to see Marvin Lewis returning.
Tennessee Titans (9-7): The most sexy pick to play in January, and it goes beyond the rapidly rising Marcus Mariota. Draft picks Adoree’ Jackson (CB) and Corey Davis (WR) are expected to start and contribute. The defense only created 18 turnovers, tied for 23rd in the NFL.
Philadelphia Eagles (7-9): Carson Wentz went from “he’ll redshirt” to a solid rookie year in which he threw 607 passes. Downfield passes were his kryptonite (accuracy percentage on 20+ yard throws: 38.2%, 25th in the NFL), but they’ve added Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. LeGarrette Blount should help an anemic ground game. If the Cowboys falter, the deeply religious Wentz should have the Eagles ready to slide into the postseason.
Carolina Panthers (6-10): Cam Newton rebounded from an MVP season with the worst of his career, completing just 52 percent of his passes and rushing for the fewest yards of his career. But they get a last-place schedule, and should be 3-0 headed into a showdown with the Patriots. Christian McCaffrey will be the ultimate safety valve, and should finish in the Top 3 in ROY.