Will the Washington Redskins win more than 7.5 games in 2017? That’s one of the questions proposed by the oddsmakers at the Westgate SuperBook, who set Washington’s 2017 over/under win total at 7.5 in July, a pessimistic number considering the team went 8-7-1 in 2016.
There are reasons to be concerned about Washington’s 2017 outlook. The front office got an unscheduled makeover when Scot McCloughan was fired as general manager; the coaching staff said goodbye to defensive coordinator Joe Barry and offensive coordinator Sean McVay became head coach of the Los Angeles Rams; two 1,000-yard receivers, DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon, left in free agency; and 22-year-old strong safety Su’a Cravens, a second-round pick in 2016, informed the team he wanted to retire and his status is up in the air.
That doesn’t mean the Redskins can’t surpass eight wins. Heck, they might even win the division. But the projections are not at all optimistic.
Consistency will be difficult for Washington, especially after the bye in Week 5. Opponents after that point include the Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants (twice), Los Angeles Chargers, Arizona Cardinals and the Denver Broncos. All but the Seahawks ranked in the top 10 for pass defense per Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average in 2016, which measures a team’s efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent. And even the Seahawks were not far off that threshold at No. 13. That’s the single toughest slate of opponents for any passing offense this season.
Maybe the Eagles get worse after losing cornerbacks Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin, but probably not enough to significantly alter the projections.
Since Kirk Cousins became the full-time starting quarterback for the Redskins in 2015, his metrics have been significantly worse against opponents boasting a top-10 pass defense per DVOA than they have against all other opponents. And if Cousins is having a bad day, chances are the Redskins will, too. Over the past two years, Cousins’s passer rating in wins (118.0) has been higher than losses (81.7). This isn’t a surprise, but it does show how Washington could be on the losing end of a majority of games this season.
|2015 and 2016||Comp%||Yds/Att||TD%||INT%||Sack%|
|Top 10 DVOA Pass defense||64.6%||7.4||4.2%||2.7%||5.6%|
|All other opponents||69.9%||8.1||4.9%||1.7%||3.4%|
Cantor Technology released the spreads for every NFL game in Weeks 1-16 — Week 17 is excluded because players sitting out the final week and teams jockeying for playoff positioning make projections fairly erratic — and had the Redskins favored in seven games. Using these point spreads in Pro Football Reference’s win probability formula, we can estimate the winning percentage of Washington for each week, giving us a way to project the entire season 10,000 times for each of the NFC East teams. Then, we can see how many simulated wins and division leaders come up most often.
The Redskins’ best chance to win is during Week 5 against the San Francisco 49ers.
San Francisco won two games last season, allowing a league-high 4.8 yards per carry and the third-most points per drive (2.33). As eight-point favorites, Washington is expected to win that game 71 percent of the time. Its biggest upset would be on the road against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 9 (27 percent win probability) or its Week 13 matchup against the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium (29 percent).
|1||vs. Philadelphia Eagles||57%|
|2||@ Los Angeles Rams||54%|
|3||vs. Oakland Raiders||46%|
|4||@ Kansas City Chiefs||35%|
|6||vs. San Francisco 49ers||71%|
|7||@ Philadelphia Eagles||41%|
|8||vs. Dallas Cowboys||41%|
|9||@ Seattle Seahawks||27%|
|10||vs. Minnesota Vikings||53%|
|11||@ New Orleans Saints||41%|
|12||vs. New York Giants||51%|
|13||@ Dallas Cowboys||29%|
|14||@ Los Angeles Chargers||44%|
|15||vs. Arizona Cardinals||54%|
|16||vs. Denver Broncos||46%|
|17||@ New York Giants||51%|
Overall, Washington averaged between seven and eight wins in the simulation with a high of 13 games, but just a 1-in-6 chance (16 percent) of winning 10 games or more.
Ten wins is important because only three times since 1970 has a team won the NFC East with fewer than double-digit wins in a season: the 1980 Redskins, 2011 Giants and 2015 Redskins. And, as you would expect, the Redskins aren’t favored to win the division this time around — they won the division once out of every six simulations (17 percent), noticeably lower than the Dallas Cowboys (48 percent) and the New York Giants (25 percent). The Philadelphia Eagles won the division 10 percent of the time.
|NFC East projection for 2017||W||L||Point Diff||Win division|
|New York Giants||10.4||5.6||55.4||25%|
2017 Redskins Season Preview
• In a pivotal season, failure to improve could shake the franchise’s foundation
• The ‘prove it’ crew: Cousins, Pryor and Brown play on one-year contracts
• Breeland and Compton tune out their critics
• Brewer: Continuity is a mirage with these Redskins
• Steinberg: Why Greg Manusky may be lurking in an Ashburn Porta Potty
• PFF: Starting lineup scouting report
• Schedule analysis: Breaking down every game for 2017
• Where’s the Redskins’ defensive coordinator? He might be hiding in a porta-potty.