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Need to Know: Five bold predictions for the 2016 Redskins

Need to Know: Five bold predictions for the 2016 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, September 9, three days before the Washington Redskins open their season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 11:55; Jay Gruden and Sean McVay news conference and player availability after practice approx. 1:15

—The Redskins last played a game that counted 243 days ago. It will be three days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 9; Browns @ Redskins 23; Redskins @ Ravens 30

2016 Redskins bold predictions

Here are some long-shot predictions for the 2016 Redskins. They are best-case scenarios that will need everything going right plus a little bit of luck to for them to come to fruition. I did this a year ago and two of the five turned out to be correct.

Matt Jones will rush for 1000 yards—Normally saying that a starting running back has a chance to rush for 1000 yards in a season would not be very bold but there are a lot of questions surrounding Jones. If he runs as well as he is capable of, the only thing that will keep him from topping 1000 would be a lack of carries. An average of 4.0 per carry is a reasonable goal and with 250 carries he will get his 1000. An injury or someone like Rob Kelley taking carries from him will keep him short.

Ziggy Hood will get 7 sacks—Yes, I’ve gone from a guy who, at the start of training camp, predicted that Hood would not make the final 53 to a big fan of his play. He’ll have to stay healthy and play well for 16 games to make this happen and the defense will have to be playing with a lead consistently. But he has the ability to have a late-career revival season.

Preston Smith will be in DPOY discussion—This is probably the longest shot on the board here. Second-year players who didn't really come on until the end of their rookie years usually don't get serious defensive player of the year considerations. I don’t think he’ll win it but he could get a combination of sacks, interceptions, forced fumbles, and defensive touchdowns to raise some eyebrows.

Kirk Cousins will have a 5:1 touchdown to interception ratio—I’m thinking 30 touchdowns to six interceptions but it could be closer to 35 and seven. This would not require any vast improvement over last year, just a continuation of his last 10 games last year when he rang up 23 and three.

The Redskins will win 11 games—I see this is their best-case scenario, a number they could reach with a reasonable amount of good fortune. The key would be going 5-1 against the NFL East. Even if they aren’t at the level to be able to beat the Cardinals or Panthers they could get to 11 by winning three out of four against the NFC North and against the AFC North. Home games will be the key. They play only one true road game against a team that had a winning record (Cardinals). If they take care of business at FedEx Field they have a chance to have their highest win total since 1991.

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2018 NFL Draft order has Redskins pick nearing top ten as losses stockpile

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USA Today Sports Images

2018 NFL Draft order has Redskins pick nearing top ten as losses stockpile

LOS ANGELES — Some years, the December talk is of playoff tiebreakers.

Other years, it’s about draft position.

This is one of those “other” years.

The Redskins’ current skid of four losses in their last five games has knocked them out of playoff contention but into more favorable position in the 2018 NFL Draft, which is scheduled to take place in late April.

The Redskins' record is 5-8 through Week 14,  and if the season ended today, Washington would be picking either 11th or 12th in the first round.

Here’s the big picture: As of Monday, there are eight teams that have fewer wins than Washington. All of them would be picking ahead of the Redskins. 

The Bengals and Jets also have eight losses so the one and only draft order tiebreaker would be applied.

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 3.0

This does not work out well for the Redskins.

The NFL Draft tiebreaker is strength of schedule with the teams with the weaker schedules getting the better picks. I am sure you have heard about how tough a schedule the Redskins have all year long. It was a point of pride for many fans. But now it comes back to bite them.

The Jets (opponents winning percentage .488) and the Bengals (.444) have faced weaker schedules than the Redskins (.574). That pushes Washington back to 11th.

RELATED: FEW UPS, MANY DOWNS VS. CHARGERS

But there is a Week 14 game pending. The Dolphins, who have seven losses, play the Patriots on Monday Night Football. If they lose and join the eight-loss group, they would jump ahead of the Redskins based on the SOS tiebreaker, pushing Washington back to 12th.

Of course, the season doesn’t end today and a lot can happen.

But if the bottom doesn’t completely fall out it seems likely that they will end up somewhere between 10th and 12th in the first round.

We will be looking at what that might mean for the Redskins in the coming days and weeks as the offseason comes early for the Redskins one more time.

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NFL Playoff Picture: NFC bracket projection starting to come into focus

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USA Today Sports

NFL Playoff Picture: NFC bracket projection starting to come into focus

The NFC Playoff picture is no clearer in Week 14 than it was in Week 8.

Throughout the 2017-18 NFL season, the NFC in particular has been a gauntlet. So much of a gauntlet that one of the league’s best in the past five years, the Seattle Seahawks, sit outside of the postseason with an 8-5 record.

As of the conclusion of Week 14’s action, only the Philadelphia Eagles (11-2) have locked up a postseason spot.

The Eagles claimed the NFC East for the first time since 2013 with a win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. The will clinch a first round bye with a win and losses by the Saints and the Panthers this weekend.

The Minnesota Vikings (10-3) with their loss remains second in the conference, still within striking range over the overall No. 1 seed.

With losses to the two teams ahead of them, the Rams (9-4) have a tough hill to climb to claim a first-round bye, but first they need to get back in the win column.

For the WildCard berths there was a wrench thrown into many teams plans with the Atlanta Falcons (8-5) defeating the New Orleans Saints (9-4) on Thursday night. Atlanta owns a tiebreaker over pretty much every team chasing them for the final playoff spot.

For the five remaining unclaimed spots in the postseason, 10 teams are still alive.

After Week 15 though, that number could dwindle down significantly.

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 3.0

NFC Playoff Picture Week 15

NFC PLAYOFF BRACKET PROJECTION:
— #1 Philadelphia Eagles* (11-2) vs. BYE
— #2 Minnesota Vikings (10-3) vs. BYE
— #3 Los Angeles Rams (9-4) vs. #6 Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
— #4 New Orleans Saints (9-4) vs. #5 Carolina Panthers (9-4)

NFC TEAMS IN THE PLAYOFF HUNT:
— Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
— Detroit Lions (7-6)
— Green Bay Packers (7-6)
— Dallas Cowboys (7-6)
— Arizona Cardinals (6-7)

NFC TEAMS ELIMINATED FROM PLAYOFF PICTURE:
— Washington Redskins (5-8)
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9)
— Chicago Bears (4-9)
— San Francisco 49ers (3-10)
— New York Giants (2-11)

SEEDING NOTES:
— Eagles own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rams, Panthers.
— Vikings own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rams, Saints, and Falcons.
— Saints own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Panthers.
— Rams own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Saints.
— Panthers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Vikings.

WILD CARD NOTES:
— Panthers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions.
— Falcons own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions, Packers, Cowboys, and Seahawks.
— Lions own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cardinals.
— Packers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seahawks, Cowboys.
— Cowboys own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cardinals.

Week 15 NFC Games With Playoff Implications:

Sat., Dec 16: Bears at Lions (4:30 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Bengals at Vikings (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Jets at Saints (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Eagles at Giants (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Cardinals at Redskins (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Panthers at Packers (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Rams at Seahawks (4:05 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Cowboys at Raiders (8:30 p.m.)
Mon., Dec 18: Falcons at Buccaneers (8:30 p.m.)