After a long offseason, football is back, and Washington is one of the top teams in the league to pay attention to. Winning the NFC East after a drama-filled season with many headlines, they finally are getting into that place that fans across the DMV have always wanted, stability and competence. After doubling their win total in 2020, I believe they can do even better in 2021 and make a solid postseason push.
Like last year, I will break down the schedule “month by month”, looking at it as 4 small parts.
9/12 v. Los Angeles Chargers: L
9/16 v. New York Giants (TNF): W
9/26 @ Buffalo Bills: L
10/3 @ Atlanta Falcons: W
Week one for Washington is going to be key. How many WFT fans are going to be in attendance after winning the division title in 2020 with no fans in the stadium? The Chargers are one of the teams I believe will have a good year and get to 10+ wins and compete for a wild card spot, maybe even a division title. The Atlanta Falcons are in a rebuild after firing head coach Dan Quinn and trading away all-time great WR Julio Jones, but I still expect them to have one of the better offenses in the league. Matching up with Calvin Ridley and newly drafted TE Kyle Pitts wil be a huge test for this Washington defense, which is expected to finish in the top 5 of the league. But the biggest test of them all will come week 3 when they travel to Buffalo to take on Josh Allen and compay, who many have pegged behind Kansas City as the best team in the AFC. If Washington can come out of this stretch .500, they should feel good about their chances going into the next month of their tough schedule.
10/10 vs. New Orleans Saints: W
10/17 vs. Kansas City Chiefs: L
10/24 @ Green Bay Packers: L
10/31 @ Denver Broncos: W
Washington will have a tough time during this portion of the schedule. Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs come to town, and this will probably be Washington’s biggest test all year. I don’t have them winning this game by any means, but will they fight and at least hope to contain an Andy Reid offense with some of the best playmakers in the league? Coming off that game to head up to Green Bay to face the reigning MVP in Aaron Rodgers, how can this defense hold up? The last time Washington was in Green Bay, they held Rodgers to under 200 yards passing, also holding Green Bay to 20 points in said contest. But Aaron Jones had his way with Washington’s offense by 134 yards on the ground (8.4 yards per attempt), with another 58 in the passing game. Yes, this was under another regime, but a lot of the same players from that Packers offense are still there, so I don’t expect Rodgers to be held to low numbers like that again.
That Broncos game is something else to watch out for. Yes, Teddy Bridgewater is not a guy who will usually throw for 300 yards a game and beat you, but he’s a veteran who has been around the way a few times, and with the defense they have, Denver can most certainly pull off the “upset”, especially with the thin Rocky Mountain air.
Week 9 Bye
11/14 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: L
11/21 @ Carolina Panthers: W
11/29 vs. Seattle Seahawks (MNF): W
12/5 @ Las Vegas Raiders: W
After a brutal start to their schedule, this is where Washington starts stacking wins. Barring any major injuries, I don’t have them beating Tampa Bay, but everyone else in this string of games is very beatable. Last year, Washington had a legit chance in beating Seattle, but awful QB play and key injuries to guys like Antonio Gibson prevented this from happening. Plus Washington has gotten better in key spots they struggled in last years, like WR and QB. I think a game they could potentially struggle with is Carolina. Emotions will be high, as Ron Rivera will be back in Carolina since his departure in 2019. They have a sneaky good roster, and if they can get positive play from newly acquired QB Sam Darnold, they can be a dark-horse playoff team.
12/12 vs. Dallas Cowboys: L
12/18 or 19 @ Philadelphia Eagles: W
12/26 @ Dallas Cowboys (SNF): W
1/2 vs. Philadelphia Eagles: W
1/9 @ New York Giants: W
Washington closes the season with five straight division games, and they should be favored in all of them, barring injuries. Dallas has a very strong offense, but their defense has many holes, especially in the secondary. Adding experienced weapons in the passing game will allow Washington to slide past them. Philadelphia is simply not good enough to compete for anything outside of a top 5 pick, and Washington beat them twice last season while widening the talent cap between the two clubs. Washington finishes the season strong, winning the NFC East in back to back seasons for the first time since 1984.
Final Record: 11-6
Bold Predictions for the season: Ryan Fitzpatrick starts all 17 games. Chase Young leads league in sacks. Logan Thomas has double-digit touchdowns. Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel combine for 2000 receving yards. Antonio Gibson has 1200 all purpose yards. Defense finishes top 3 in yards allowed.