The Redskins are NFC East contenders

Tim Hightower and the Washington Redskins are currently in first place in the NFC East. AP Photo/Nick Wass

Adam Schefter answers reader questions in his mailbag every Monday and Wednesday. Got a query of your own? Submit it here.

Q: Rex Grossman made a bold prediction before the season that the Washington Redskins would win the NFC East. With all three NFC East teams dealing with injuries (two of them significant QB injuries), is the NFC East Washington's for the taking?

-- Hank (R.I.)

A: That might be a bit strong, Hank. But the one thing we've seen over and over is that as unlikely as some things seem in football, they happen. Buffalo is in first place in the AFC East; Detroit is tied for first in the NFC North. No season goes as predicted. So why can't Washington win the NFC East? It might be a stretch to say it's Washington's for the taking. It's not a stretch to say they can make a real run in the division. And if the Redskins can win Monday night, that will be even more true.

Q: Is Tony Sparano now officially on the hot seat? With games coming up against the San Diego Chargers and New York Jets (with a bye in between), the Dolphins could easily be 0-5 in a few weeks.

-- Jonathan (Calif.)

A: His seat is hot, Jonathan, absolutely. First off, ownership did him no favors in the offseason, undermining him by pursuing Jim Harbaugh. The way the schedule sets up doesn't help his cause, either. As you pointed out, the Dolphins play in San Diego on Sunday, with a chance to go to 0-4 as they head into the bye week before a Monday night game at the Jets. So if the Dolphins ever are going to make a coaching change early in the season, next week would be the time if this team can't win at San Diego. Also keep in mind that Sparano got a two-year extension after the botched attempt to hire Harbaugh. Whether he stays or goes, he will be paid through 2013.

Q: The Detroit Lions are back! That offense looked unstoppable in the second half against the Minnesota Vikings. Do you think this team can not only make the playoffs, but make some noise in the postseason?

-- Tony (Mich.)

A: Why not, Tony? This team has been one of the best in football this season. The history of teams starting 3-0 in since the NFL realigned its playoff format is that 76 percent of them make the playoffs. And if the Lions went 7-6 from this point on, they'd still finish 10-6. So the postseason definitely is within reach. As long as Matthew Stafford stays healthy, this team can play with just about any team -- the question is whether he can stay healthy. Regardless, it's fun to root for the Lions these days -- something that hasn't been said much since 1999, the last year the Lions made the playoffs.

Q: Adam, what a game in Buffalo. It's good to see the Bills competitive again. Do you think they have a shot at making the playoffs? Was this game enough to prove to you that they're for real?

-- Yancy (La.)

A: Yancy: The above-mentioned stats in which 76 percent of the 3-0 teams make the playoffs tells you how legitimate Buffalo's chances of making the postseason are. But beyond that, the team is as explosive as just about any in the NFL, including Green Bay and New England. Yes, Buffalo is for real. The Bills are as real as their 3-0 record. Enjoy it, Buffalo. The city, and Bills fans, deserve it.

Q: What did you think of Blaine Gabbert's first NFL start. I know the weather wasn't great, but did he look impressive to you?

-- Tim (Ore.)

A: He was decent, Tim, nothing great, nothing terrible. Keep in mind he's throwing to a depleted receiving group, and he was doing it in wet-and-wild conditions Sunday. Gabbert was OK, as you'd expect a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start on the road to be. What Jacksonville will be looking for is signs of improvement, signs of growth. Gabbert will have some challenging games, but if he can shine in some, Jacksonville will have to feel pretty good about its QB going forward.