This time of year, it’s always an amusing exercise to try to speculate who’ll be the last division team standing. There might be more uncertainty than usual, with Robert Griffin III recovering from injury, Chip Kelly taking over in Philadelphia, Dallas changing back from a 3-4 defense to Monte Kiffin’s 4-3, and the Giants dealing with contract squabbles and turnover at key positions. Depending on who you consult, the Redskins are the division favorite … or not.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano recently wrote a good piece in which Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan compares the numbers from last year’s Redskins team to Washington’s Super Bowl champs and the three title teams Shanahan coached. The numbers are meant to get the Redskins to believe that they are already capable of playing at a Super Bowl level.
While it’s hard to believe many people consider the Redskins conference favorites, a Super Bowl is not an unimaginable thought. But not everybody is optimistic.
Hogs Haven last month posted that it sees the Redskins winning the division at 11-5, with Dallas 9-7, the Giants 8-8 and the Eagles 6-10. As you might expect. In May, on the Giants’ Web site, three writers thought it was fiction that the Redskins would be New York’s toughest in-division competition. Gil Brandt, the longtime Cowboys scout and executive who writes for NFL.com, came up with 10 reasons why Dallas will win the division. And surely, somewhere deep in the nether regions of the internet, someone has predicted that the Eagles will win the NFC East.
Oddsmakers tend to be less biased, or at least more numbers-based in their biases. At BetPhoenix, the NFC East over/unders are set at 9 for the Giants, 8.5 for the Cowboys, 8 for the Redskins and 7.5 for the Eagles. But it gives the best odds of winning the division to the Redskins and Giants (+200), followed by the Cowboys (+285) and then the Eagles (+300).
At Vegasinsider.com, oddsmakers made the Giants the favorites (3-2), followed by the Redskins and Cowboys (12-5) and the Eagles (5-1), and their wins over/unders are 9 for the Giants, 8.5 for the Cowboys, 8 for the Redskins and 7 for the Eagles.
The Web site also lists 10 teams with better odds of winning the Super Bowl than the Redskins, and puts Washington in a group with the Ravens, Bears, Colts, Bengals and Cowboys at 30-1. Meantime, BetPhoenix lists nine players more likely to win the NFL MVP than Griffin, including Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan and Calvin Johnson.
If that seems strange, perhaps it’s a hedge against the possibility that Griffin is unable to fully recover from his knee surgery, or re-injures himself, and Washington isn’t the same team without him.
What else could it be? Can you foresee a scenario where Griffin is 100% and uninjured, and one of the other division teams was the favorite? All things being equal, healthwise, could you foresee another division team outplaying these Redskins?
In what scenarios — and of course, the NFL never ceases to amaze with its ability to remain unpredictable — could you foresee the Redskins not repeating as NFC East champions?
Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag.
D.C. Sports Bog: RGIII’s wife in wedding dress and makeup
The Early Lead: Lions, Matthew Stafford agree to three-year extension
The Early Lead: Hernandez documents reveal new details in murder case