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Need to Know: Will the Redskins' special teams improve in 2015?

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Need to Know: Will the Redskins' special teams improve in 2015?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 28, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

I’ll also take your Need to Know questions via email. Hit me up rich.tandler+csn@gmail.com with “NTK” in the subject line. Just keep them relatively brief, please. 

Today’s question is from Twitter:

The Redskins’ special teams did improve last year but they were historically awful in 2013 so they were still among the worst in the league.

Per the numbers crunchers at Football Outsiders, the Redskins’ special teams DVOA (their metric for measuring a unit’s performance) was minus-12 percent. That was the worst in the league by almost five percentage points and one of the worst special teams performances since they started tracking these numbers.

Last year Washington’s special teams DVOA was minus-5.4 percent. That was better but still an unacceptable 29th in the NFL. It’s hard to celebrate it as a great achievement when there still are only three teams worse than you are in that category.

But improvement is improvement and all the Redskins can do now is try to continue to get better. I think the chances are pretty good that they can for three main reasons:

They’re in a second year under Ben Kotwica—There is every reason to believe that Kotwica will be able to get the job done. The team improved under him last year with a minimal improvement in personnel.

Jamison Crowder could be a quality returner—Andre Roberts didn’t scare any opponents last year, posting pedestrian averages of 7.4 yards on punt returns and 23.7 on kickoffs. He never threatened to break off a long return. Crowder has a quick first step, good speed, and solid instincts and should be a solid upgrade.

Better personnel—As noted, the Redskins did little to enhance the personnel on special teams after the 2013 debacle. This year they brought in a few draft picks in addition to Crowder who know right off the bat that special teams will be a primary part of their duties, players like Kyshoen Jarrett, Evan Spencer, and Martrell Spaight. They also retained veteran Niles Paul, a special teams mainstay for the past several seasons.

We will see what happens. Injuries could take a toll and things might not click for other reasons. But there seems to be an active awareness of the problems and, hey, there is no place to go but up.

Timeline

—It’s been 182 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 77 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 32; Preseason opener @ Browns 46; final cuts 69

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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2017 NFL Power Rankings: The NFC is much better than the AFC through 11 weeks

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USA TODAY Sports

2017 NFL Power Rankings: The NFC is much better than the AFC through 11 weeks

Through 11 weeks, the NFL's playoff picture is far from clear. But one thing is: The NFC is the superior conference. 

And that's not just because Nathan Peterman plays in the AFC.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON'S NEW POWER RANKINGS CAN BE FOUND RIGHT HERE

In this week's rankings, seven teams in the top 10 come from the NFC. The middle and back-end of the rankings even out, but at the top, one side of the league is stronger than the other.

The bottom line is that a few deserving squads in the NFC will miss out on the postseason. Meanwhile, in the opposite conference, a couple of mediocre ones will be playing in January.

To see who lands where overall in the post-Week 11 breakdown, click the link above or below. You know who No. 32 is, but there was plenty of movement in the other 31 spots.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON'S NEW POWER RANKINGS CAN BE FOUND RIGHT HERE

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Week 12 Redskins vs. Giants Thanksgiving Game Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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USA Today Sports Images

Week 12 Redskins vs. Giants Thanksgiving Game Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Redskins enter Week 12 against the Giants on Thanksgiving looking for a lot of thanks. 

The Redskins were up by 15 points with less than 5 minutes to go against the Saints in Week 11. Despite being major underdogs, they thought they had the win in hand.

Then, as D.C. fans have witnessed all too often, everything fell apart.

Even after their terrific Week 9 win in Seattle, the Redskins still probably needed to split the next two against the Vikings and Saints.

It seemed like they had done exactly that, right up until Drew Brees reminded everyone why he's one of the greatest passers in NFL history.

The loss was doubly painful, as everybody's favorite breakout star Chris Thompson suffered a fractured fibula and will undergo season-ending surgery. Thompson has been one of the few bright spots on offense this season, and his loss will be felt by a team clinging to its playoff hopes.

Despite seeing yet another key cog go down with an injury this season, the team will look to bounce back against one of their NFC East rivals. The Giants have been one of the worst teams in the NFL this season, but are coming off a 12-9 win over a quality Chiefs squad, so the Redskins will have to show up ready to play.

On a short week against a division rival, anything can happen. Every game matters, but this is as much of a must-win for the Redskins as it gets. It's Thanksgiving night, and the Redskins will have the stage all to themselves. 

Before the Week 12 Redskins-Giants matchup, here's a preview of everything you need to know, including game time, TV channel and live-stream info.

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

WEEK 12 Redskins vs. Giants

Who: New York Giants at Washington Redskins

Where: FedEx Field, Landover, MD

What: Week 12 of the 2017 NFL season

When: Thursday, November 23, 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Live Stream: Fubo.TV: Online with no cableTV: fuboTV (Try for free)

Radio: Redskins Radio Network

Betting Odds: According to OddsShark.com, the Washington Redskins are 7.5-point favorites against the New York Giants.

Washington Redskins 2017 Regular Season Schedule:

Week 1 (Sun. 9/10): 30-17 loss vs. Eagles (0-1)

Week 2 (Sun. 9/17): 27-20 win at Rams (1-1)

Week 3 (Sun. 9/24): 27-10 win vs. Raiders (2-1)

Week 4 (Mon. 10/2): 29-20 loss at Chiefs (2-2)

Week 5 (Sun. 10/8): BYE WEEK

Week 6 (Sun. 10/15): 26-24 win vs. 49ers (3-2)

Week 7 (Mon. 10/23): 34-24 loss at Eagles (3-3)

Week 8 (Sun. 10/29): 33-19 loss vs. Cowboys (3-4)

Week 9 (Sun. 11/5): 17-14 win at Seahawks (4-4)

Week 10 (Sun. 11/12): 38-30 loss vs. Vikings (4-5)

Week 11 (Sun. 11/29): 34-31 OT loss at Saints (4-6)

Week 12 (Thurs. 11/23): vs. New York Giants, 8:30 p.m.

Week 13 (Thurs. 11/30): at Dallas Cowboys, 8:25 p.m. 

Week 14 (Sun. 12/10): at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. 

Week 15 (Sun. 12/17): vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1:00 p.m. 

Week 16 (Sun. 12/24): vs. Denver Broncos, 1:00 p.m.

Week 17 (Sun. 12/31): at New York Giants, 1:00 p.m. 

MORE REDSKINS: WEEKLY MVP'S ON REDSKINS OFFENSE AND DEFENSE