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NFL Power Rankings 2018: Week 1 Edition

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Where do the Redskins rank going into Week 1 of the 2018 season?

Denver Broncos v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Real football returns this week and that means it’s time to look at where the “experts” rank the Redskins compared to other teams in the NFL. Washington finished the 2017 season at 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the second year in a row. Their record has been on a steady decline since winning the division in 2015 with a 9-7 record. Last year’s team was decimated with injuries, and scraped by at multiple positions with players signed off the street.

The team has gone through some major changes since last year, the biggest being the departure of franchise quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency. The team made a bold move before Cousins left by trading a 3rd round pick, and slot corner Kendall Fuller to the Kansas City Chiefs for QB Alex Smith.

The Redskins ended the Terrelle Pryor experiment quickly, and signed former Seahawks WR Paul Richardson. Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder return to round out the top 3, with three inexperienced receivers backing them up(Maurice Harris, Trey Quinn, and Cam Sims).

Washington attempted to upgrade the running back position through the draft by taking Derrius Guice in the 2nd round. The promising rookie tore his ACL in his first preseason game action, and the Redskins signed Adrian Peterson to compete for a place in the rotation. AD looks to be the Week 1 starter with Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine backing him up, and Chris Thompson returning to the role he played last year.

The Redskins double dipped on 1st round defensive lineman from Alabama this year by taking DaRon Payne a year after Jonathan Allen fell into their laps. They went back to the DL well in the 5th round and got a steal with Tim Settle, who they were interested in by the time the 3rd round rolled around. The defensive line looks to be the strength for Washington for the first time in a long time.

The secondary is where a lot of the question marks start popping up on defense. The Redskins traded Fuller, and let starting CB Bashaud Breeland walk in free agency. They signed Orlando Scandrick, but ate $1 million in dead cap money to cut him in favor of the young CBs on the roster. Quinton Dunbar and Fabian Moreau step into the #2 and #3 roles respectively behind Josh Norman. The safety position was only addressed in the 4th round on a super raw prospect in PSU’s Troy Apke.

That’s a lot of change for a team looking to return to the playoffs in Jay Gruden’s 5th year as a head coach. Gruden has the 5th best odds to be the first head coach fired this year, and is looking for major improvements this season. Where do the “experts” rate this year’s version of the Washington Redskins?

Highest Ranking: 14th

Lowest Ranking: 26th

Average Ranking: 20.5

14. Bleeding Green Nation

Washington is a team that people are sleeping on heading into 2018. They still have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and Alex Smith might even be an upgrade over their previous starting quarterback. Not to mention Jay Gruden is the second best coach in the NFC East. I’ve often said that Smith limits this team’s ceiling but he lowers their floor.

14. USA Today

If first-round ‘Bama products Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne can solidify defensive line, as expected, Washington could be dark horse.

16. Vegas Insider

18. Fansided

Washington looks average. That’s no slight, but Alex Smith has middling weapons around him and the defense has too many holes to be a championship-caliber unit.

18. Walter Football

Underrated NFL Team: See why the Redskins are an underrated NFL team in our new Overrated-Underrated page.

19. OddsShark

19. NumberFire

20. The Ringer

Best-Case Scenario: Of all the possible outcomes that could have followed Washington’s Kirk Cousins contract debacle, Alex Smith taking over at quarterback is a desirable result. The price to acquire Smith wasn’t cheap—the front office sent the Chiefs a third-round pick and excellent slot corner Kendall Fuller and then handed Smith a $94 million deal with $71 million in guarantees—but the veteran will give Washington a quality answer at the position. To round out the receiving corps, the team signed former Seahawks deep-ball artist Paul Richardson to a five-year, $40 million deal with $16.5 million guaranteed. With Richardson and 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson on the outside, Washington has a pair of receivers with a flair for the spectacular.

Losing rookie running back Derrius Guice to a torn ACL in August was a considerable blow, but getting receiving back Chris Thompson healthy again after he missed the final six games of last season with a broken fibula should provide this unit with an element that was sorely lacking late last fall. Thompson’s leg injury paired with a rash of offensive line injuries to devastate the offense: Left tackle Trent Williams dealt with knee problems for much of the year and missed six games; right tackle Morgan Moses had ankle and knee injuries in the second half of the season; center Spencer Long was placed on injured reserve before the team’s Week 11 trip to New Orleans; and left guard Shawn Lauvao joined him on IR a week later with a neck injury. In the past, Washington’s line has been a strength. If this group can stay healthy, it could be again.

Washington was similarly snakebit on defense, as 2017 first-round pick Jonathan Allen missed the final 11 games of the season with a foot injury. This season, he’ll be joined up front by fellow Alabama product Da’Ron Payne, who was taken 13th overall in the 2018 draft. Allen and Payne give Washington an imposing interior combination.

21. Washington Post

Trading for Alex Smith to take over at quarterback was about the best that the Redskins could have done once it became clear that they had franchise-tagged their way to ensuring Kirk Cousins’s departure. But losing running back Derrius Guice to a knee injury before his rookie season even began was significant. Adrian Peterson had his eye-catching preseason moments. But he is still a 33-year-old running back, so everyone should keep the return-to-greatness expectations in check.


Washington pulled off a stunning trade for Alex Smith during Super Bowl week, but the question begs to be asked; will he be a significant upgrade over Kirk Cousins? Adding Da’Ron Payne in the first-round of the NFL Draft will bolster Washington’s defensive line, but their fortunes are tied to Smith this season.

22. Detroit Free Press

They’ve moved on at QB, trading for Alex Smith. But do they have the requisite pieces around him to challenge for a playoff spot?

22. Houston Chronicle

There’s a lot of pressure on new quarterback Alex Smith to do what his predecessor, Kirk Cousins, couldn’t – win a playoff game.

22. ESPN

After an injury-ravaged 2017, the Redskins have talked all summer about how there’s a “different vibe.” Fair warning: That vibe has been felt before. Even after losing running back Derrius Guice, the Redskins feel confident. Quarterback Alex Smith is a leader and a smart, athletic player. But minus the potential playmaker Guice, there will be more of a burden on Smith. With rookie nose tackle Daron Payne paired with a healthy Jonathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis, the Redskins should have a good front. After missing the playoffs the past two seasons, coach Jay Gruden needs a better result. Otherwise, that seat could be burning. -- John Keim

22. Sportsline

22. Associated Press

23. Yahoo(Schwab)

The NFL preseason came and went without too many serious injuries. That’s of no comfort to the Redskins, who saw running back Derrius Guice go down with a torn ACL. Adrian Peterson might help running between the tackles but I think we’ll ultimately look back at the Guice injury as being a big deal to their chances this season. It changed what Washington wanted to do on offense.

23. CBS Sports(Prisco)

With Alex Smith now the quarterback, they have to ask if that’s an upgrade over Kirk Cousins. The defense should be improved.

23. Bleacher Report

It’s fair to say Adrian Peterson wasn’t expected to be the center of attention in Washington as the NFL season got underway.

But that’s what has happened. Signed recently by the Redskins after the team was hit hard by injuries during the preseason, Peterson made headlines last week by firing back at critics who questioned how much the veteran tailback has left in the tank.

”What I’m going to do when I ball out this year,” Peterson said via Liz Roscher of Yahoo Sports. “I’m going to have all my fans … look up all the people who [said] something negative about me and put them on blast and prove that when they are on TV, they don’t know what they’re talking about.”

The thing is, it’s not unfair to question Peterson’s ability to lead one of the NFL’s most anemic rushing attacks. Not after Peterson managed just 3.4 yards a carry between the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals in 2017.

And if Washington can’t run the ball (again), the offense is going to sputter—Alex Smith just doesn’t have enough passing-game assets to carry the team. Good though Chris Thompson may be (and he was last year before breaking his leg) he’s a complement. Not the kind of player who will carry an offense. Much the same can be said for slot man Jamison Crowder.

Washington didn’t pay Smith all that money to be a “game manager.” But without a running game to keep defenses honest in tight or a reliable vertical threat to do the same over the top, he isn’t going to have a choice.

25. SB Nation


The 26 spot is probably a bit low for the Redskins, but Derrius Guice’s torn ACL threw a wrench in their plans. Plan B? Adrian Peterson. Pundits have claimed it’s time for Peterson to call it a day, while the erstwhile 33-year-old former All-Pro feels he can lead the league in rushing again.Stopping the run was a huge issue for this football team last year -- Washington ranked 32nd in run defense. That’s why major draft capital was spent in the nation’s capital on No. 13 overall pick Daron Payne. Will he be enough? The Redskins have the links in the chain, but that chain hasn’t seen action yet. If Peterson and Chris Thompson produce, and if the defensive line prevents opposing runners from doing the same, this arrow will go up quick.


Where do you rank the Redskins going into Week 1?

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  • 6%
    (71 votes)
  • 53%
    (575 votes)
  • 35%
    (384 votes)
  • 4%
    (44 votes)
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