- I know not everyone has Columbus Day off, but the Sixpack has always stretched its holiday calendar as far it can go. Besides, with the Redskins on bye, what better week to take a three-day weekend? What did everyone do during their bye week? I have traditionally used the bye week to make family plans away from football as kind of like an in-season vacation. Of course these days, St. Megan is totally on to me, and no longer thinks I am giving up a Redskins game in the name of family time, so I have to find other ways to be a hero (#husbandoftheyear). It was fun being a full-time Green Bay Packers fan this past weekend...that much is certain. Rooting for Ay-Ay-Ron and watching him march down the field to not just tie, but win, the game against Dallas was simply...perfect. (Are the Eagles that good? Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez.)
- What in God’s name are Vegas oddsmakers trying to do to the Redskins?!?!? Installing Washington as +10 point favorites over anyone seems at least somewhat...irresponsible. The last Redskins game I gambled on culminated in a touchdown pass from Patrick Ramsey to Darnerian McCants. The score covered the spread in a Washington loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. I was so thoroughly disgusted by the experience—honestly, it was not a fun game in almost any respect—that I swore off gambling on Redskins games ever since that day. Since I would never place a penny on any wager against the burgundy and gold, it makes sense to avoid those bets altogether. After all, I need to maintain my objectivity (#alwaysbetonburgundy).
- In the broader sense though, the point spread in the San Francisco game is meaningful. I have spent a ton of space here talking about the downward trending national perspective on the Redskins in recent years, which has manifested itself in point spreads. The theory goes that the manner in which the Redskins have been beaten with regularity in nationally televised, primetime affairs has led to the average football fan thinking not very high of the Skins. That influences where the gamblers’ money lands each week, and in general, the money has stacked up against Washington. The terribly bad beat suffered by gamblers betting on the Skins to cover last week against the Chiefs certainly didn’t do much to reverse that trend. Still, being double-digit favorites is kind of a big deal to me. We are entering some very rare “SHOULD” territory, and that is not a very friendly territory for Redskins fans.
- We know the Redskins SHOULD beat the 49ers. We know that Kirk Cousins SHOULD feast on that San Francisco secondary. We all can see that the Redskins defense, based on its play thus far in the season, SHOULD stifle Kyle Shanahan’s offense, with its limited supply of top-tier weapons. At home and with a week of rest, Washington SHOULD look every bit as dominating as it has in any of its best moments so far this season. You see where I’m going with this?
- My question to all of you is simple: are the Redskins a “SHOULD” team at this point of the 2017 campaign? Consider it a broader question than just this week’s tilt against the 49ers. Whether we win by one point or a dozen points, we will all gladly take and celebrate a win. The question is about just who these Redskins are right now. The eye test screams that the Redskins are an above average football team that is capable of hanging with the best teams in the league. Even in spite of the soul-crushing mistakes made by Washington that have cost them chances to be better than the 2-2 record they now have, a quick scan of the NFL landscape suggests that the Redskins are in a prime position to make a run for a playoff spot. Yes, I am suggesting that based on what we know right now, the Redskins SHOULD make the playoffs (especially if Atlanta can come through for us against the Cowboys—Green Bay and Atlanta are their unique opponents this season). I have said since August that the key to making the playoffs hinges on the two-week period that has the Redskins hosting the Vikings and traveling to New Orleans. It’s fair to suggest the Redskins can win those two games, but are we now saying they SHOULD win those games? To be fair, I have not had the “SHOULD” conversation around here for quite some time. It is a conversation fans of competent franchises have every year, which means we have not had this conversation many times in recent decades.
- I hate to jump the gun on stuff like this (I really do), because jumping the gun is what all fans—but especially Redskins fans—do best. I just believe what I see. Kirk Cousins is gaining confidence by the second. The ground game, despite a rash of injuries, has been a pillar of our offense even when it hasn’t produced prolific numbers. It looks like there is an actual plan each week. It looks like the defense is succeeding in very important areas that make teams good: getting pressure on the quarterback when rushing four guys, making tackles at the line of scrimmage or around the line of scrimmage (as opposed to making tackles in the secondary on most plays) and getting pretty solid coverage from safeties. Is there room for improvement? Uhhhh...yeah, but can we all please look at how we have done in these three categories in just the last few years? Again, maybe there is not enough there yet to dive into the deep end of excitement...but consider this my cannonball into that end of the pool. The contest at home against Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers is the perfect springboard for the Redskins to begin a playoff push. Beating a team that you SHOULD beat is what playoff-worthy teams do, so a victory—no matter the score—would lend itself to the narrative that Washington is a SHOULD team. If that is true (it says here that it is true), it would be a real turning point for this organization.
Looks Like Someone Has a Sixpack of the Mondays
Taking stock of the opening quarter of the season makes Redskins fans optimistic for weeks ahead.