The 2018 season kicks off tomorrow for the Washington Redskins as they face the Cardinals in Arizona. Expectations for this season are all over the map after the Redskins switched QBs from Kirk Cousins to Alex Smith. Was Cousins holding the team back and not able to win when it counted, or was the team around him not enough to get to the next level? Will Alex Smith continue his recent winning ways in DC, or is he coming from a better team(Chiefs) with a better coach(Andy Reid), and won’t be able to turn the Redskins into a contender.
Season predictions are usually a crapshoot as teams have constant changeover every year. There are new teams every year in the playoffs, and usually at least one team that goes from last to first in their division. One of the things that has remained consistent recently is the NFC is the stronger conference and a tougher out than the AFC. Unless you win a weak division like the Redskins did 3 years ago, you're going to need at least 10 wins to see the postseason.
Are the Redskins a 10-win team this year? Almost everyone who isn't drinking the Kool-Aid right now says no. There are too many questions marks on the team, and they face a tough schedule this season. Only 5 out of the 13 writers at Hogs Haven picked the Redskins to make the playoffs this year, and only 2 of them had Washington winning the NFC East.
The theme for these season predictions is average at best for the 2018 Washington Redskins. The Redskins have been adding solid talent in the draft recently, and have been going with youth over older free agents. Jay Gruden enters his 5th season as the Redskins Head Coach with only 1 playoff appearance that ended after one game. He knows he needs to win now, but is the team going to give him job security after this year.
How hopeful are you about this season, and how many wins will the Redskins have at the end of Week 17?
2018 Redskins Season Projections
Washington’s roster for 2018 is an interesting mix of old and new, and while certain positional question marks can be found, don’t discredit the strengths. The Redskins are solid in their defensive front seven, and Orlando Scandrick was added to start opposite Josh Norman at cornerback. The aforementioned scenario for Smith is a positive for Washington, too. The talented QB is on a mission to re-establish himself in Year 14.
Kirk Cousins pulled off a miracle last year that is rarely discussed. His banged-up offensive line got him sacked 41 times. His best pass-catcher missed most of the season with a hamstring injury. The defense was 27th in scoring was the worst in the league against the run. And somehow Cousins led Washington to a 7-9 record. Washington has its health, added to the defensive line with Da’Ron Payne and picked up a solid long-term quarterback in Alex Smith to replace Cousins. The concern is that Smith’s talents could be unlocked only by Andy Reid, and he may slip into the mediocre quarterback of yesteryear. Washington needs more than that.
The projections start with the weekly preseason point spreads released by CG Technology in May, which are then used to determine each teams projected win-loss records and chances of making the playoffs. (Note: Week 17 is considered a 50/50 toss up because players sitting out the final week and teams jockeying for playoff positioning make projections fairly erratic.)
A team favored by one point at home can be expected to win 51 percent of the time. Using this method for each of the 16 games of the season estimates the Washington Redskins are likely to finish 2018 having earned between five and eight wins, with a 6-10 record the most likely outcome. (5% chance of winning division)
It appears they’re set up for a promising start but a brutal finish, including a stretch of four of five on the road starting with a Thanksgiving game at Dallas. But don’t be surprised if this offense is better under Alex Smith than it was with Kirk Cousins.
22% chance to make playoffs, 10% chance to win division, 5% chance for a 1st round bye. 1% chance to win the Super Bowl.
I’ve gone on and on about Alex Smith being an upgrade for Washington in the red zone. I’ve also seen this offense’s run game lower the win-total floor, due to uncertainty. (Promising rookie Derrius Guice is out for the season, while Adrian Peterson is 33 years old.) What really drives a higher-than-some-expect win total? The defense. The upside comes from first-round pick Daron Payne, returning defensive end (and 2017 first-rounder) Jonathan Allen and the increase in overall health of this team. According to my projections, the improved defensive front will raise Washington from 29th in big plays allowed to 14th.
My dark horse for most surprising team in 2018 would probably be Washington. I know 8-8 doesn’t sound like much when the Redskins were 7-9 last year, but that’s just because I was ultra conservative with picking wins and losses on their schedule.
What if Alex Smith, coming off his finest season yet, is actually a solid addition at quarterback? Personally, I would have paid Kirk Cousins, who is younger and perhaps hasn’t peaked yet, but this team basically burned that bridge already. Smith was a decent rebound option. I think he has a solid trio of wide receivers, gets to play with Vernon Davis again (you stay healthy too, Jordan Reed), and Chris Thompson is a receiving back that Smith should fall in love with quickly. Oh yeah, they also added Adrian Peterson after Derrius Guice tore his ACL, but at least Washington is a better fit than New Orleans for Peterson.
The defense has a pretty solid mixture of young players and veterans. Just imagine for once if this team actually stays healthy. Jay Gruden has dealt with some of the worst injury luck of any coach I’ve studied. So if you can get Smith to continue his low-turnover, somewhat efficient level of play, and the defense improves, then you’re talking about a team that can hang with just about anyone. The Redskins should have beaten the Chiefs and Saints last year, but Josh Doctson dropped a game-winning touchdown in the end zone and the Saints made a ridiculous 15-point comeback late in the game.
Washington might sneak up on some people this year, but at least this is one that would make some sense.
The Redskins feel they’ve upgraded at quarterback with Alex Smith over Kirk Cousins, but how much a bump they’ll get from this change remains to be seen. To improve, overall, the Redskins need much better health and for key young players to develop such as receiver Josh Doctson. If those happen, then they could be good. But it’s hard to go much above last year’s mark based on the initial part of the offseason and before seeing what happens in the draft.
NFC East Bold Prediction: Jason Garrett is the first coach fired in the NFL
I’ve been on the Redskins all offseason as a sleeper to flip this division for the second year in a row (the Eagles were 7-9 the year before last, when they won the division and the Super Bowl) but it certainly took a hit when Derrius Guice went down with an ACL and I’m not sure that Adrian Peterson automatically fixes everything. But I do believe this offensive line is secretly the best in the division and I think Alex Smith gives them a nice upgrade in terms of floor at QB. There are plenty of weapons and the defense is underrated (so is Jay Gruden). The Eagles can have a great season, finish 9-7 and still miss the playoffs because of how difficult the NFC is this year. With Carson Wentz missing at least one game, I see it happening. The Giants have a brutal schedule to start the year and it’s going to take a toll on a team with a questionable situation at quarterback. Saquon Barkley might have a monster year and still could not be enough to put the Giants over the top. I think the Cowboys might have a better defense than offense and could see that team cratering as a result of the offensive line issues.
NFC Wild Card: (5) Falcons 28-17 over (4) Redskins
This great site emailed me some stat projections for the Redskins, and gives Washington a 27.6% chance to make the playoffs heading into Week 1.
From Barstool guys to a Politico writer, JP asked just about everyone how the Redskins will fare this season. https://t.co/43wgkU8Khz— NBC Sports Redskins (@NBCSRedskins) September 7, 2018
How many wins will the Redskins have in the regular season this year?
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