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Bold Predictions--Just Win, Baby

Bold Predictions--Just Win, Baby

You can reach me by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

You’ve seen them on TV countless times, the Oakland Raider fans dressed up in spikes and chains. They’re screaming, yelling, rattling their chains and supposedly turning McAfee Stadium into the infamous “Black Hole”. ESPN.com recently ran an article that centers on one such fan who goes under the moniker of “Spike”. The ESPN writer caught up with Spike, whose real name is Mark Shadinger of Sacremento, the morning of a home game against Denver:
"Today we raise hell. Today we turn the Black Hole into an absolute jungle. No mercy today. It's the Broncos."

Seven hours later, the Oakland Raiders are about to take the field against the Denver Broncos. Every beer-chugging, street-strutting, look-at-me-the-wrong-way-and-I-might-pop-you-in-the-mouth Raiders fan is charging toward McAfee Coliseum, eager to not miss a play.
Spike’s brother goes as the character “Howie”, presumably a tribute to ex-Raider Howie Long. He talks tough:
"We're evil. We're the devils, the degenerates.The Raiders, man. We're the bad guys. The misfits. I watch T.O. run his mouth off and I think to myself, 'Keep it up buddy and the sooner you'll be out here with us.' We're the guys that nobody wants their daughters to marry."
However, as the article title says, these vicious-looking characters are just that, characters. They’re all bark and no bite.
Three of the most visible Raider fans out there -- the go-to guys for photographers looking for that fan reaction shot -- are more Saturday morning cartoon characters than Friday night devil worshipers. They tell you they want Mike Shanahan on a stick. That they want someone to clothesline John Lynch. But then you find a neon green children's book in the back of the Durango, complete with a pop-up rubber football that squeaks when you squeeze it.

"Oh, that's for the kids," Spike says.

The Black Hole? It's more like a pink locker room.
Teams do not always take after their fans or vice versa. However, in this case, no matter which is the chicken and which is the egg, the team is just like its most noted fans. It lives off of the tough, bad-boy, misfit image but that’s just an image.

Randy Moss has left the field a couple of seconds early and delivered an ersatz moon shot in Lambeau Field, but he’s no Bill Romanowski. Warren Sapp has run through other teams’ warmup drills and mouths off on occasion but John Matuzak he ain’t. Kerry Collins used to drink too much and said some things that he shouldn’t have, but all that was years ago. He’s been nothing but a model citizen since leaving the Panthers following the 1997 season.

There is nobody else on the team who has what could be even remotely described as a checkered past unless some of them have some outstanding library fines.

It’s not like a bunch of good guys can’t go out and play some good, tough football. The Raiders, though, are a bit, well, soft. Their defense doesn’t scare anybody. They’re 19th in the NFL in rushing defense and 24th overall.

There’s not much there to put fear into opposing defenders either. Their rushing attack is 26th in the NFL. Collins’ play at quarterback has been respectable but far from spectacular.

The may have that famed “Commitment to Excellence”, but right now they are a thoroughly mediocre football team.

All in all, this team is a reflection of its head coach, Norv Turner. If you need an explanation of that, you missed the seasons from 1994-2001.

The Redskins should handle this pedestrian group. There is a temptation to say that they will handle them easily, but nothing has come easily for the Redskins this year. To take another phrase from the Raiders’ glorious past, the Redskins will “Just Win, Baby.”

Redskins 24, Raiders 17.

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a Pro Bowl-type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know, we’re 7-9."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

Every week during the 2017 Redskins season, NBC Sports Washington found two Redskins fans in the crowd and paired them in a head-to-head matchup on Twitter to determine the fan of the game.

And now that the season is over, it's time to take each of those winners, throw them into a NCAA Tournament-style bracket and let Twitter pick the Redskins Fan of the Year.

Starting on January 8 over on the @NBCSRedskins Twitter account, one matchup a day will be posted at 11 a.m., and fans will have 24 hours to vote for their favorite supporter by retweeting or liking depending on their preference. Week 1's winner will face off with Week 17's, Week 2's will play Week 16's, etc.

The winners will advance, and eventually, one member of the Burgundy and Gold faithful will stand above all the rest, earning the coveted title of Redskins Fan of the Year. 

Check out the results below, which'll be updated every day. To see the tweet that corresponded with each matchup, click the link after the date, but remember, retweets and likes submitted after the 24-hour period won't be counted.

ELITE 8 RESULTS

January 18: Round two, matchup one

The first Elite 8 matchup was... not close:

January 19: Round two, matchup two

The Elite 8's second tilt is underway. Vote now:


FIRST ROUND RESULTS

January 8: Round one, matchup one

This was a close one that came down to the last-minute, but at the 24-hour mark, Week 17's winner garnered justtttttttt enough retweets to move on.

January 9: Round one, matchup two

In this tournament, a giant Redskins chain is apparently worth more than a giant football hat.

January 10: Round one, matchup three

In the tournament's third showdown, we have our first winner from the Likes side:

January 11: Round one, matchup four

Was there anyway she wasn't gonna win, especially with the little Hogettes nose?

January 12: Round one, matchup five

Our fifth matchup's winner earned the most retweets of anyone up to this point:

January 15: Round one, matchup six

These three 'Skins fans had to witness Washington's Thursday night flop in Dallas, so it's only fair that they get to advance to the second round:

January 16: Round one, matchup seven

You'd think a turkey hat would be enough to capture a W, but not in this one:

January 17: Round one, matchup eight

The Elite 8 is now set with this showdown going to the retweets side: