Kevin already posted a synopsis of our predictions for the remainder of the season, so some of this will come as no surprise to everyone. I'll mix in some random predictions to keep it a little fresh. Let's get right to it.
Ten Yard Fight - 10 Chances To Make One Good Point
1. Ryan Torain will break 1,000 yards rushing. This one sounds harder than it is, although injuries and game situations will make this very, very close. Torain has just about 400 yards rushing this season. To get to 1,000, he just has to average roughly 76 yards per game down the stretch. That sounds manageable--IF he can stay healthy. IF he stays healthy, you have to believe Shanahan is going to feed him the ball to take pressure off of the quarterback. His average yards per carry (as listed on nfl.com) is 4.3--which means he needs about 17 carries per game to break the century mark. Getting to 1,000 yards is not as meaningful as it once was, I will grant you. But it would be a big deal for this guy to come in off the street and make a meaningful contribution to this offense. It bears noting that if Torain stays healthy and remains the starter, he is probably going to have to blow past 1,000 for us to have a real chance to make some noise.
2. Donovan McNabb will be our starter for the rest of the season, and will be the story of the NFL after we whoop up on Philly. Much has been made of his slow start. In fact, calling it a slow start any more is not doing it justice. McNabb has not played well and has looked downright bad at times. My prediction is that McNabb takes some serious stock and figures that at this point: TWO well-respected coaches have benched him in a span of 2-3 years, his numbers are worse now than they have ever been since he was a rookie and whether it is justified or not, he has a reputation as an iffy practice guy (all those years in Philly with Iverson must have had an impact). That won't get him the rich contract he is hoping to ride off into the sunset with, and worse, that sunset is looking closer and closer. To suggest he has not had time to learn the system is not really fair--he was here the day after Easter. But with half of a regular season in the books against some quality opponents, the Shanahans and McNabb could very well find the comfort zone that has seemed to elude them. This might be my most grossly optimistic prediction yet.
3. I spoke too soon...because I DO have McNabb coming back next season. If it's money McNabb wants, nobody else spends it dumber than Dan Snyder. An over-the-top, bidding against yourself kind of offer will materialize at some point. Imagine an "I Can Change" speech from Mike Shanahan, a truck full of money and a locker room that goes after McNabb harder than the Vikings chased Favre. Sound insane? Exactly. Bruce Allen can tell McNabb, "Hey, if you stick around, you make my job easier, because I can draft an offensive lineman in the first round and a wide receiver in the 2nd. For you." McNabb will have seen what changing teams is all about for the first time in his career and will be hesitant to do it again so quickly. He knows that with him under center, year-over-year improvement is possible with this squad, and that with another year of re-tooling, the offensive line might be passable enough to get him some numbers. I think somebody slipped something in my coffee.
4. The Losses I am predicting: Tennessee and the Giants on the road. As I said on Kevin's matrix, Jeff Fisher has my respect and then some. He can grow a killer beard, he generally fields one of the more physical teams in the league and he can grow a killer beard. The Giants have done nothing but steamroll us as of late and given the run they are on right now, I don't see them playing very nice with us in New York in a month. These losses are easy to pick...even for me. HOWEVER...if we can steal one of these, watch out.
5. We will sweep the Cowgirls. This is the year. One could argue that there is muted joy in kicking a team when they are down. One would be wrong. It matters...it matters a lot. We will only get two chances to play Dallas this year (a playoff matchup seems unlikely) so we must take full advantage. It is going to take a long time to reverse the damage done by years of Cowgirl dominance in this rivalry. When we can get two wins over Dallas in one year, it is an opportunity that must be seized. The coaching change may spark some short-term effort, but nobody packs it in like a Dallas team with no chance.
6. We won't go winless against the AFC South. On the day after Christmas, we travel to Jacksonville. The Jags, like every other team in the league, are good enough to beat the Redskins. It wouldn't be hard, in fact, to envision a stretch similar to the ones we have had in recent years when we crapped the bed every week until New Year's. I don't see that happening under Shanahan and Haslett. I just don't. Redskins fans will get a late Christmas present this year.
7. We'll beat Minnesota? Of course we will. I predict that Major Dad and Favre are going to have it out for reals in the next few weeks. It could happen on the sideline at FedEx for all we know. The window for that team was wide open at the end of last year. Now that window is slamming shut on the most famously texted penis of our time.
8. Playing Tampa Bay is going to have that Detroit/St. Louis vibe. But make no mistake about it...this Buccaneers team is playing hard and is learning how to win (I had to throw a cliche in there, sorry). I think we get the edge being at home. Is it possible that this game could be flexed to 8 o'clock?
9. One of our remaining home games will get flexed to 8 o'clock. Possibly two, if we are in the playoff hunt and the Giants game actually matters. I honestly don't know how long the guy who suggests that the Redskins be flexed to primetime twice will remain employed, but given our penchant for playing games down to the wire, NBC could do worse. My all-day Sunday tailgate is ready and waiting. Make the call, NBC...make the call.
10. Charlie Sheen Classic Line of the Week: "Can't a guy have one bad night?" At the risk of losing the very small amount of respect anyone out there has for me, I continue to salute the life and times of Charlie Sheen.