Everybody loves the 2014 Redskins

Jay Gruden

Jay Gruden is facing fairly high expectations in his first season as an NFL head coach. (Richard Lipski/For The Washington Post)

openingkicklogoFor a team coming off 3-13, Washington sure is a hot pick to do a lot better next year. There are certainly logical reasons to believe as much. Bad teams from the season before often don’t repeat their awful records. The Redskins picked up some name free agents. Quarterback Robert Griffin III will take off his knee brace and theoretically revert to his rookie year form. And even just off the eye test, Washington didn’t seem 13-loss bad last season so much as they let some close games get away, and then packed it in in December.

There’s also reason for caution, since the Redskins didn’t look like they were close to being 13-win good either. Sure, fortunes can change fast in the NFL, and fresh leadership can help. But Washington does have a first-year head coach, the same coordinator from a fairly bad defense last season, and almost all of the same starters from last season. Still, they’re a hot pick to approach .500 or do more, and since it’s only May, we’re probably just getting started.

● The D.C. Sports Bog just a few minutes ago highlighted where Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless predicted the Redskins would win the NFC East.

● Their job is to say stuff that gets people talking, you say? Ah, but two-thirds of you (1,385 of 2,060) in an Insider poll last week thought the Redskins would win the division.

● When the schedule was released, 3,485 of you took a spin through it with our Redskins Predictor. You foresaw 9.9 expected wins, including seven sure things, two probables, four toss-ups and only three games — vs. defending Super Bowl champ Seattle, at San Francisco and at Indianapolis — that would likely be losses.

● Fans are usually going to back their own team? Well, Charley Casserly was on NFL AM just before the draft and gave the Redskins the edge as the NFC East team to beat.

● Casserly is not a fan, but you couldn’t blame one of the architects of the Super Bowl-winning Washington teams for being a bit biased. So let’s reduce the human element and look at the numbers. Neil Greenberg of our fairly new Fancy Stats blog took a look at what the Redskins have to do to outperform the 7.5 over/under on wins set by the Las Vegas Hilton.

● CBS Sports used odds from Cantor Gaming, which predicted seven Washington wins next season.

● Football Outsiders’ early projections, using their DVOA ratings, were even less favorable. Not only did they project 6.3 mean wins for Washington, they had a fourth-place finish and wrote this:

Of all the teams with losing records in 2013, the Giants are probably the best bet to make next year’s postseason.

So maybe everybody doesn’t love the 2014 Redskins. But get used to another offseason of fairly optimistic predictions and projections, which isn’t a bad thing. While it’s fun to have high expectations and meet them, it’s even more fun to have low expectations, then exceed them.

Opening Kick engages regular readers with a morning conversation starter, quick observation or poll. Click here for previous installments.

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