1. Some of you may recognize a pattern in my season predictions over the years. No--I am not referring to the intoxication that is seemingly ever-present when I create them. It is the patent lack of greediness with which I attack each year's ridiculously early look at the upcoming season's slate of games. Some people just get too carried away with the exercise and end up with insanely unrealistic answers. I, on the other hand, like to peel back the layers of fandom and really penetrate to the epicenter of both reality and plausibility. How else can you explain my uncanny ability to be right--on average--once every six years?
2. The road to 10-6 is never easy. If it was, everyone would be 10-6 (is that how that works?). To me, 10-6 is a record that says, "Winning 11 games is for suckers." Six losses are enough to leave a mark, but ten wins are enough to prove you are a winner. A sixpack of losses is just enough to help you learn how to overcome weaknesses, and ten wins is capable pf proving you did just that. Finally, six losses is pretty much the maximum allowable losses you can have and still be a legit contender in the playoffs--when you bring ten wins to the postseason, you bring a credible resume.
3. Getting to 10-6 has proven...ummm...elusive in recent years. To suggest ten wins is or has been our top goal would be misstating things. Just getting to .500 would have been a hell of a result in some years, especially given some of the starts we saw in September and October.
4. The last point I will make (this time, a genuine soul-crushing reality for us) before charting out a course to 10-6 is this: when some teams look at the schedule, they can honestly say things like, "We should win that game, that game and that game." Certain teams have earned the right to have "should win" contests, even this far out. The Redskins are not currently one of those teams. The Redskins are the team that those teams circle on their schedule as "should wins." That is just the world we live in today and it won't change until we change it by winning. Which brings me to...winning!
5. As a diehard Washington sports fan, I have grown weary of the dreaded "slow start" to a season. In hockey, basketball and baseball, there are enough games in the season to overcome sluggish starts. In the NFL, you get pounded with stats about how few teams win the Super Bowl after losing their first game. With that in mind, and with a keen eye on the 10-6 record I see in our future, I am absolutely predicting an upset of the Miami Dolphins in week one. Oddsmakers have already installed the Redskins as home underdogs in the first week of the season, and it is no shock. Ryan Tannehill is growing into an extremely capable quarterback (out of the same draft as Robert Griffin III...serenity now!) and Miami is capable of making a run at the Patriots in arguably the toughest division in the NFL.
6. In week two, the Redskins host the St. Louis Rams. Is it just me or does it feel like we play this team five times per season? I see the Redskins bouncing back from last year's coin toss stunt and getting off to a 2-0 start against the Rams. If this game took place in St. Louis, I would call it a loss. Our first loss will come on the road in week three on--you guessed it--national television. The key to this game will be not getting blown out by the New York Giants. We have to keep it tight and respectable, like my last mustache.
7. At 2-1, this site will be buzzing about Chip Kelly and his new-look Eagles coming to town. As much as I want to put a 'W' in the books for the hometown fans here, I am going to give us the 'L' and stake us to an 0-2 start in the NFC East. It just feels right, doesn't it? It gets worse, too. In week five, the Redskins travel down south to Atlanta and take their third straight loss. The energy that was present ahead of the Eagles tilt will have completely turned bad after this debacle. A date with former Redskin Todd Bowles and his New York Jets will loom in week six, and staying on the road will end up being the saving grace for the Redskins. They will rally for win in New York and come back home to complete their pre-bye schedule against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Let me make it very clear that even though this game is tentatively tabbed for our Homecoming week, this game has overtime disaster written all over it. In the end, the Redskins will prevail over Bucs and hit the bye week with a hard-fought 4-3 record.
8. Coming off the bye, things get serious quickly with a trip to New England to take on the Patriots. Of all the games that I KNOW we shouldn't win, this one is the king of them all. We could spend days or weeks debating when the Redskins are going to turn it around. It could literally happen at any moment...or never. Today, I am penciling in the "moment that we all began to see this team differently" as Sunday, November 8, live on FOX. I don't know how we will do it, or what it will look like, but George R.R. Martin is working on that narrative as we speak. Once again, there will be a buzz in the lots at FedEx when the Skins return home to face the New Orleans Saints. In a classic letdown game after a big win, the Saints will knock us down a peg and leave us with a 5-4 record entering the final stretch.
9. Even after somehow escaping New England with a win, the world won't be full of believers in the Washington Redskins. On the road against the Carolina Panthers in week ten, the Skins will emerge victorious, but we will suffer a setback at the hands of the New York Giants. I hate like hell to predict getting swept by the G-men, but I have a hard time seeing us do better than 3-3 in the division, and you KNOW I am notching a 'W' on Monday Night Football against the Cowboys on Pearl Harbor Day.
10. After beating Chicago on the road, the Redskins return to FedEx to close out their home schedule with a game against the Bills. It kills me to have to bear this news, but we all know how this one is going to go. I am guessing we'll see a snowy tailgate, turning to freezing rain by kickoff. The Skins will be an 8-5 playoff contender before the game, but by the final gun, the announcers will be comparing this game to the Kansas City debacle in 2013. Here is where the 2015 season is different though: this Redskins team will hit the road for the final two games and...TOTALLY REDEEM THEMSELVES! The wins over Philly and Dallas will cap a 3-3 NFC East record and a 10-6 regular season that should be good enough for a wild card berth.
You just can't make this stuff up.