Pro Football Focus has released their 2016 season predictions, and has the Washington Redskins finishing as the seventh-best team in the NFC. The Redskins will share a 9-7 record with the Dallas Cowboys in this scenario, and miss the playoffs. Dallas wins the division with Tony Romo and Dez Bryant returning from injury, the addition of Ezekiel Elliot, and a prediction that the defense will improve despite injuries and multiple suspensions they are facing.
The Redskins will finish with the same record that won them the NFC East in 2015, but PFF cites the lack of overall improvement to the roster that will have them barely losing the division crown this year. Washington didn't make any splashes in free agency like their counterparts in the East, until Josh Norman became available. That move instantly upgraded their secondary, along with the addition of David Bruton, Jr. from the Broncos.
PFF also cites the losses of defensive linemen Terrance Knighton and Jason Hatcher. The Redskins will have Stephen Paea returning from injury, Trent Murphy switching to defensive end, free agent signing Kendall Reyes, and draft pick Matt Ioannidis to fill the part-time roles the two DLs played last year. Running back is another big question mark with the loss of Alfred Morris who was playing a more limited, time-sharing role than he has in his first three seasons with the team. Matt Jones takes over the #1 RB role and needs to prove he can carry the load, while keeping the ball off the ground.
7. Washington (9-7)
In 2015, Washington somewhat overachieved, considering their roster. While they added CB Josh Norman from Carolina, which should be a big help to their defensive backfield, they also lost talent on defense. Terrance Knighton was one of their best run-defenders, and Jason Hatcher was one of their best pass-rushers, and neither remain on the roster. On offense, Alfred Morris was their highest-graded running back, and he was also lost over the offseason (signed with Dallas). Others in the division improved at more positions, which will make it difficult for Washington to repeat as NFC East champs.
PFF has the Redskins and Cowboys sharing the best record in the division at 9-7, with the New York Giants coming in third place at 8-8, and the Philadelphia Eagles sitting in the basement at 6-10. They cite the Giants terrible offensive tackle situation(a combine 120 pressures allowed in 2015) and Eli Manning's age and his lowest-rated season last year. The Eagles have as many questionable starters as good players according to PFF. They also have serious questions at cornerback, wide receiver, and QB.
Some fans would be ok with a 9-7 record, but definitely not if it meant losing the division tie-breaker...to the Cowboys. The Redskins face a tough schedule this season, and will need the new and returning pieces on defense to improve from last year's inconsistent play. Kirk Cousins has the weapons to put up similar numbers to last year, and should be able to move the ball, but will the running game improve to take pressure off of him? Center and left guard are still question marks on the offensive line, and both should have competition for the starting spot this year.
Will the Redskins' record improve this season? And have they done enough to repeat as NFC East Champions?