So how will the Redskins rebound after their 3-13 stinker of a season in 2013? There are a lot of ways to try to break it down to make a prediction, most of them just as futile as the other. But that never stops us from trying.
Let’s look at the schedule in terms of preseason expectations, a look at what games they can reasonably expect to win or lose and which ones are too close to call right now.
Strong favorites (4): Jaguars, Titans, Bucs, Rams
These are all home games against teams that didn’t make or even seriously threaten to make the playoffs. Two of them, the Titans and Bucs, have new head coaches although it should be noted that Ken Whisenhunt and Lovie Smith have both taken teams to the Super Bowl. If the Redskins are improved at all they should win at least three of these games if not all four.
Strong underdogs (6): @Eagles, Seahawks, @ Cardinals, @ 49ers, @Colts, Eagles
This is a tough run, looking at it right now. A split with the Eagles is a possibility if the defense has truly improved. The Cardinals have taken a couple of hits to their defense with the suspension of Daryl Washington and the free agent loss of Karlos Dansby. Oh, and they have Carson Palmer as their QB. So there are two possible wins here but it wouldn’t be surprising if they went through group of games at 0-6.
Tossups (6): @ Texans, Giants, @ Cowboys, @Vikings, @ Giants, Cowboys
New York is struggling on offense and the Cowboys don’t have a defense so 2-2 or even 3-1 in those four division games looks possible. It’s hard to get a feel now for the games in Houston and Minnesota so 1-1 is as good a guess as any.
Let’s add it up. One loss when they’re favored and one major upset would put them at 4-6. That would mean that they would need to win either three of the four division games against Dallas and New York or sweep the road tossups to finish at 8-8.
I’d say it’s possible that they will break even but I think that they need a year to regroup under Jay Gruden. I think they split against New York and Dallas and split those games in Houston and Minnesota to go 7-9. That’s some progress and they will work on shoring up their weak spots and becoming contenders in 2015.
Of course, anything can happen. Teams that were bad last year can be serious contenders this year. I was reviewing the version of this post from a year ago and the two games against the Eagles, who were 4-12 in 2012 and breaking in a college coach to the NFL, were an easy sweep for the Redskins. But Chip Kelly wasn’t a joke, the Eagles improved greatly and the Redskins weren’t competitive in either game. The game against the Falcons, the NFC runners up in 2012, was a sure loss. The Falcons were awful (4-12) and the Redskins were a late two-point conversion away from winning it.
But we can only go on what we know now and right now 7-9 or within a game or so either way seems to be where the Redskins are headed. But in a couple of days they start to play the games and we can start to see what they really have.
As long as we’re predicting, let’s go through the NFL so that I have something on record. The problem with all of the picks I’m seeing around the Internet and on TV is that they’re chalk. Most of them have something like nine or more of the 12 playoff teams from 2013 repeating. We don’t know much but recent history tells us that about half of the 2014 playoff field will be new to the dance from 2013. Why make a prediction if you know it’s going to be wrong?
For the NFC division champs I’ll take the Eagles, Bears, Saints, and Seahawks and the Panthers and Cardinals as the wild cards. In the NFC it’s the Patriots, Steelers, Colts, and Broncos taking the divisions with the Ravens and Jets going as the wild cards. In the Super Bowl it’s the Saints (yes, I saw the Seahawks on Thursday night) over the Patriots.
Tomorrow: Five keys and a prediction for Redskins-Texans