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Need to Know: Disregard what you hear about the 2018 Redskins schedule strength

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Need to Know: Disregard what you hear about the 2018 Redskins schedule strength

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 15, 27 days before NFL free agency starts.

PSA: Pay no attention to Redskins’ 2018 schedule strength posts

It’s the time of year when articles about the strength of schedule for the following NFL season start to pop up. It’s easy content. We know each team’s 2017 winning percentage and 2018 opponents so all you have to do is aggregate the combined winning percentages of each team’s opponents, hit sort on that column in Excel and, boom, you have strength of schedule for each team ranked from 1-32. Per this method, the Redskins have the 14th toughest schedule in 2018.

That’s great — except it’s meaningless. If you want the long explanation of why they mean nothing, read this excellent post on the Sharp Football Analysis blog. One of the points made is that the “analysis” of ranking next year’s strength of schedule using last year’s records is that it is done without context.  Did the teams on your schedule pile up a lot of wins against bad teams? Did they have key injuries to players who can be expected to return at full strength this year?

Here’s an example of context.

The Redskins play the Texans and the Colts in 2018. Both teams went 4-12 last year. That combined winning percentage of .250 weighs in as 1/8 (12.5 percent) of Washington’s schedule strength.

But how reasonable is it to expect those teams to be the same this year, which is exactly what using last year’s data to project next year’s record is? Colts QB Andrew Luck did not play a single snap last year. The Texans had J.J. Watt for just five games and quarterback Deshaun Watson’s sensational rookie year was cut short when he suffered a torn ACL after six starts. By moving away from static analysis even a little bit, I think that we can figure that these teams will combine for more than eight wins this year.

Then there are the Titans, another team on Washington’s 2018 schedule. They went 3-1 against the Colts and Texans. That certainly helped them build that 9-7 record that got them into the playoffs. They were outscored on the season, usually the mark of a losing team. The Titans bigwigs were sufficiently unhappy with their level of play to replace their head coach, so they were not as good as their record might indicate.

There are plenty of questions within the Redskins’ own division. Will the Eagles suffer from a Super Bowl hangover? Are the Giants going to improve dramatically with a new coach and GM and Odell Beckham back from injury? Which way will the Cowboys, perhaps the most inconsistent team in the league, swing this year? The six games against those teams are over a third of the schedule. 

Perhaps you can figure that such ups and downs will even out, and they may to an extent. But with only 13 opponents in a season, things tend not to even out, as the Sharp Football blog shows. You could almost draw numbers out of a hat and do as good a job of determining schedule strength as you could with using that one out of context set of numbers that get so much attention leading up to the season.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 14
—NFL Draft (4/26) 70
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 206

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The best players on the Redskins according to their Madden 19 ratings

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The best players on the Redskins according to their Madden 19 ratings

Madden 19 won't be released to the public until August 10, but the player ratings for the top players on each NFL team have been released.

The video reaches the Redskins a little after four minutes in. The top nine players on the Redskins, according to their Madden 19 overall ratings are as follows:

  1. LT Trent Williams, 91
  2. RG Brandon Scherff, 88
  3. FS D.J. Swearinger, 86
  4. MLB Zach Brown, 85
  5. CB Josh Norman, 84
  6. RB Chris Thompson, 83
  7. WR Paul Richardson, 83
  8. QB Alex Smith, 81
  9. WR Jamison Crowder, 81

The list has Washington's two best linemen up top followed by its best skill position players and Zach Brown. Beyond Williams and Sherff, there's some debate to be had. Both Richardson and Crowder can make a serious case to be the team's best receiver. Crowder had 22 more receptions and 86 more yards than Richardson in 2017, but Richardson had six touchdowns to Crowder's three.

Smith is coming off arguably the best season of his career with Kansas City. He put up over 4,000 passing yards for the first time in his career, posted career bests in quarterback rating, touchdown passes, interception percentage and completions. His rating as the fifth-best offensive player behind two other skill position players seems off.

These rankings will change throughout the season as more updates become available, but this is what there is to work with right now.

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Redskins schedule preview: Week 15 vs. Jaguars

Redskins schedule preview: Week 15 vs. Jaguars

We’re previewing every game of the 2018 season with a look forward and a look back. Up today, it’s the game against the Jaguars. 

Week 15 December 16, TIAA Bank Field

2017 Jaguars: 10-6, First in AFC South, lost AFC championship game 

Projected 2018 wins per Westgate SuperBook: 9

Early line: Redskins +8

Key additions: G Andrew Norwell, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, WR Donte Moncrief, 

Key losses:WR Allen Hurns, WR Allen Robinson

Biggest questions: 

  • QB Blake Bortles was very inconsistent during the season and there was talk of the team looking for a replacement for him prior to their run in the playoffs. Does he have what it takes to get the team back into serious contention. 
  • The team also got an inconsistent season out of RB Leonard Fournette, the No. 4 pick in the draft. Can he put together the monster season that would justify his draft status and help elevate the Jaguars to elite status. 
  • The Jaguars went from 25thin scoring defense in 2016 to second last year. Will they fall back to the pack this year?

Series history

The Redskins lead the all-time series 5-1. The Jaguars only win against them came in 2002.

Series notables

The first time: September 28, 1997, Jack Kent Cooke Stadium—In the second game ever played at the Redskins’ new stadium, Jacksonville took a 9-0 lead in the second quarter, but then-Jags QB Mark Brunell threw a pair of interceptions that set up two Washington touchdowns and the Redskins won 24-12. Gus Frerotte threw for 244 yards and two touchdowns and Terry Allen gained 122 yards on 36 carries. 

The last time: November 14, 2012, FedEx Field—Jay Gruden got his first win as the Redskins’ head coach in this one. Robert Griffin III went out of this game early with an injury and Kirk Cousins passed for 250 yards and two touchdowns in his place. It was the defense that dominated this game, racking up 10 sacks, tying the team record set in 1977. Ryan Kerrigan got four of those sacks, tying the team individual record for sacks in a game. The Redskins won 41-10.

The best time: October 1, 2006, FedEx Field—A taught, exciting game came to an explosive end when Santana Moss snared a pass that Mark Brunell perhaps should not have thrown and streaked to the end zone, giving the Redskins a 36-30 overtime win over Jacksonville.

The reason the throw was risky was that two defenders were near Moss as Brunell fired it to the speedy receiver. Somehow both of them missed it. Moss grabbed it, spun around and bolted the rest of the way to complete the 68-yard game winner.

It was Moss’ third touchdown reception of the day. In the first quarter, he caught a long pass from Brunell and executed a nifty spin move near the goal line to complete the 55-yard touchdown play. An eight-yard Moss TD catch early in the third quarter put the Redskins up by 10 but the Jags battled back to tie it with six seconds left. That set up Moss’ overtime heroics. 

The worst time: November 10, 2002, Alltel Stadium—The Redskins came into the game riding a two-game winning streak and at 4-4 they were squarely in playoff contention. A strong running game had been their best asset during their surge to .500 and, with the Jaguars sporting the worst run defense in the NFL, there was every reason to believe that the Redskins would take the land route to another win.

But coach Steve Spurrier had different ideas. "I was dumb enough to think we could throw it up and down the field," Spurrier said. "We ran a little bit here and there. We had a little success there early, and I got away from it too much. The second quarter, I kept thinking at midfield, we could throw the ball from there. But we didn't do it very well. So, looking back, I called a lousy game."

His defense didn’t play very well either. The Redskins scored first but the Jaguars scored 26 unanswered points and came out with a 26-7 win.

Redskins schedule series

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS  and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS  and on Instagram @RichTandler