Each year, I make the case for how the Redskins will finish the season with a 10-6 record. It is worth noting that each and every season, I have been completely right about everything—only to see players go out of their way to muck up my otherwise pristine predictions. When Dustin Hopkins missed that field goal in London and when Anquan Boldin channeled his younger self in Detroit, it was the same as when Marty McFly messed with the time-space continuum. Listen, I can only prognosticate linearly. Once someone creates a path to an alternate dimension, I can’t be held responsible for the consequences. As always, we are operating in fast-forward here. Much like the most recent season of Game of Thrones, expect to be whirled around the map at breakneck speed, sometimes with painfully little explanation about how in God’s name things can move so fast.
Let’s get the win column populated early with a win in the home opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Redskins are coming off of a 5-0 stretch against Philly, and are at home...but are underdogs? That better not go over too well in the locker room. I am not predicting a blowout by any means, but the Redskins will be better on defense than they were last year, and the offense should be able to move the ball and put points on the board. I won’t give a score for every game, but since we are right around the corner, let me lead off the season with a nice 27-23 win for the Redskins (1-0).
Traveling across the country to play a road game against former offensive coordinator Sean McVay is going to be...problematic. On the one hand, McVay is going to know a lot about the way we play ball, despite changes in personnel since he left. He knows our offense well and he knows how he will want to come at Kirk Cousins. On the other hand, the Redskins should have enough power to overcome what the Rams are cooking these days. The Redskins lead the overall series 25-13-1, including a nice 12-6-1 winning record against the Rams from the era in which they last played in Los Angeles (it matters). I really like Todd Gurley this year, and I have a ton of confidence in McVay’s ability to get him the ball, so I don’t think this will be a cakewalk in any fashion. That said, the Redskins are destined to start the season 2-0, because that is the best way to manufacture completely unrealistic hopes and dreams—something the Redskins have always excelled at over the years.
Just before the bye week, the Redskins will host the Raiders and travel to Kansas City—both games played in primetime (Sunday Night Football against Oakland and Monday Night Football against the Chiefs). This will be a telling stretch of football, as both of these teams are well above average—see last night’s destruction of New England by Alex Smith and Kareem Hunt. Oakland holds an 8-5 series lead over the Skins (inclusive of that disastrous Super Bowl), while Kansas City has fared FAR better against Washington (8-1 since 1971). I am going to give the Redskins their first two losses of the season here. The AFC West is a tough draw for the NFC East, and should create a few must-watch games on the NFL calendar this year.
At 2-2 and coming out of the bye week, I think the Redskins will begin to build some steam with victories over San Francisco and the Eagles. The 49ers are rebuilding and the Redskins should overpower them. I think the close proximity of the Eagles contests helps the winner of the first game, which I have going to Washington. This is the first chance to put a little bit of a stamp on the NFC East portion of the schedule, and I like the way Washington matches up with the Eagles. I actually think Philadelphia will be a far better team in the second half of the season as they sort of cultivate some chemistry with all the new pieces, but that will be other people’s problem!
This all leads to the first of two games against the rival Dallas Cowboys. Playing host for the first one, Washington is looking at the prospect of not playing against Ezekiel Elliott. That is a big deal, and it says here that should be enough to push the Redskins past the Cowboys in what I believe will be an incredibly close game (mark your calendars for Sunday, October 29th).
Riding a three-game winning streak, the Redskins (5-2) will once again fly across the country, this time for an afternoon tilt against the Seattle Seahawks. In addition to suffering a spat of heart-breaking playoff losses to the boys from the Pacific Northwest, the Seahawks secondary is designed to stymie the strength of our offense, which is its air attack. It gives me no pleasure to say it, but a loss on the road here puts the Redskins at the halfway mark with a 5-3 record...exactly halfway to that 10-6 inevitability.
The next two games represent, in my opinion, the linchpin of this entire season prediction. Washington hosts the Vikings and then travels to New Orleans to play the Saints. When you put together a playoff resume, you have to have some good conference wins. These two wins will be huge in the grand scheme of the NFC postseason picture. Both the Saints and the Vikings are good enough to mount a run toward the playoffs, so wins over them will loom large in December. Both teams have dynamic playmakers, and you know...Drew Brees. I just don’t think the Saints are a top NFC team, and I feel like our defense should be able to contain Sam Bradford. I group these two games together because they should be very winnable (the truth is these games are winnable for all participants), and I believe they will really link up a solid first half of the season with a brutal late-season slate. Let me be the first to call Washington the most mediocre 7-3 team in the league, but one that is deserving of the attention folks will pay it because wins are wins.
The last six games of the season are going to be rough. Simple math tells you I am predicting a .500 finish, which might not blow up anyone’s skirt at this point. At home on Thanksgiving, the Redskins will handle the New York Giants to stake themselves to an 8-3 record, because home cooking on Turkey Day tips the scales our way. This will likely cause us all to lose control of our bodily functions, just ahead of what will not be the most fun we’ve ever had in December.
On the road against Dallas on Thursday night in the final moments of November, the Redskins will come back to earth with a loss that will crush all of us. Our resulting 8-4 record will be of little solace, but the Redskins will get an extra long week to prepare for yet another cross-country affair against the Los Angeles Chargers. In ten games, the Redskins own a commanding 7-3 lead in the series, and I don’t see LaDainian Tomlinson running out of that tunnel. While the Chargers are not pushovers, I think the extra rest and the prior week’s loss will propel Washington into the win column (making them 2-0 in L.A. this year).
Anyone feeling flexy? With the Arizona Cardinals coming to town in mid-December, and both teams steaming towards the playoffs, look for this game to get flexed (that’s right, we also predict flexing here). The tailgate is going to be amazing, but the game is going to end in disappointment for the Redskins, as Super Bowl-favorite Arizona does what it does (I have the Cards beating the Steelers in the title game). The 9-5 Redskins will have two games left and will be right in the thick of the postseason discussion.
First up to close out the two-game finale will be the Denver Broncos. You might disagree with me here, but as good as that defense is, I just don’t see them in the same light as I see the Raiders and Chiefs. At home on Christmas Eve, I believe the Redskins will wrap themselves up a great present with a win over Denver: a playoff berth. The 10th win of the season should be enough to punch that ticket, though may not be enough to clinch the division. That opportunity will likely come the following week, on the road against the New York Giants on New Year’s Eve. Ummm...it is pretty hard to feel good about that game. I don’t see the Redskins sweeping the New York Giants. I can’t see the Redskins going 5-1 in the NFC East. The taste from last year’s soul-crushing loss to the Giants at the same point of the season leads me to prognosticate against the burgundy and gold here. This would be a disappointing finish given 11 wins would be there for the taking, but a 10-6 campaign in 2017 would be quite the feat. I am pretty sure we would all gladly take 10-6 right now if we knew we had to sign up for a season-ending defeat at the hands of Eli Manning.
There you have it...a perfectly unhomerish, unbiased, objective look at what we now know will be a 10-6 season for the Washington Redskins. I can’t stress this enough people: using this information for gambling purposes is precisely what caused “Back to the Future” to need three parts to wrap up the story. If any of you try and alter this rock-solid and unshakable future, you will cause a tear in the fabric of the time-space continuum, thereby rendering my extremely linear prognostications meaningless (which is completely on you).
Here is a quick summary of my 10-6 roadmap:
NFC East record: 4-2
AFC West record: 2-2
NFC West record: 2-2
Saints/Vikings (2016 same-place divisional finishes) record: 2-0...(linchpin)
NFC conference record: 8-4