Every NFL season brings with it outliers who far exceed expectations or disappoint miserably. With the futures odds set for the 2021-22 NFL season, we examine that broad range of possibilities for the Washington Football Team.
When Last We Met
While their record may not indicate it, 2020 was a success for Washington, their first since dropping the Redskins moniker. The Football Team went 7-9, which was good enough to win the dreadful NFC East and host a playoff game.
Washington lost in the playoffs, 31-23, to the eventual Super Bowl champion Buccaneers. The game was close for large portions of the contest, an indicator that this Washington team may be turning a corner.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Washington trailed 18-16.
After a Week 1 comeback win over division rival Philadelphia, Washington proceeded to lose five straight games. Heading into Week 11, the team was 2-7, with their playoff hopes all but gone.
The team then rattled off four straight wins, holding the opposition to an average of 14.3 points per game.
The win streak was enough to get Washington back in the mix, and the team won in Week 17 to clinch the NFC East title, at 7-9.
Washington’s 2020 success can be attributed to a swarming defensive line, above-average offensive line, and two ascending skill-position players in WR Terry McLaurin and RB Antonio Gibson.
What held Washington back was quarterback play. Washington had four different quarterbacks start during the season: Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, and Taylor Heinicke.
Haskins started the first four games, going 1-3. Injuries and off-field concerns kept him out of the lineup for the middle of the season, and Haskins was eventually released.
Alex Smith came in to start the middle of the season, with Washington going 5-3 in games Smith played. An inspiring story, as Smith underwent countless surgeries to repair a broken leg and was told he could never play again.
It was Heinicke who ultimately finished the season as the starter.
Despite the carousel at quarterback, McLaurin solidified his place among the NFL’s elite at wide receiver, catching 87 balls for 1,118 yards.
Tight end Logan Thomas was next, finishing with 670 yards and six touchdowns.
Antonio Gibson was a revelation out of the backfield. The third-round pick out of Memphis finished the season on a tear and wrapped his first season in the NFL with 1,042 total yards and 11 touchdowns.
Gibson averaged 4.7 yards per carry and caught 36 passes, and figures to be a big part of this Washington team’s future.
The Washington offense ranked 30th in yards per game and 25th in points per game. Pro Football Focus graded the Washington offense 23rd in the league, and Football Outsiders had Washington ranked dead-last in the league.
Despite the poor overall numbers, the Washington offensive line was graded out as one of the best units in all of football. With the core returning, the team can trust in their ability in the trenches.
Speaking of trenches, there’s an argument to be made that Washington has one of the best defensive lines in all of football.
Washington was second in the NFL in sacks, with 47. NFL betting lines tell you this is one of the best defensive lines in the country.
Chase Young, the second pick in the 2020 NFL draft, finished the year with 7.5 sacks and won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Fellow edge rusher, Montez Sweat, led the team with 9 sacks. Sweat (24 years old) and Young (22) combine to form one of the most promising defensive corps in the league.
Interior defenders Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne complete the starting defensive line. Pro Football Focus graded Washington’s pass-rush fifth in the NFL.
Washington ranked second in the NFL in fewest yards allowed per game and gave up the fourth-fewest points per game.
The defense was the reason Washington made the playoffs, and it’s the reason that 2020 may have only been the beginning of what’s to come for this franchise.
Pro Football Focus graded the Washington defense third overall, while Football Outsiders had Washington an identical third-best in the league.
To Miss the Playoffs (-180)
After making the playoffs last season, it’s surprising to see Washington’s odds listed at -180 to miss out on the playoffs in 2021. These are unsurprising NFL playoff odds.
They fail to win the division or clinch a Wild Card because of what slowed them down in 2020: quarterback play.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is a Band-Aid and nothing more. A one-year rental for a team with a real playoff window.
Failing to address the position in the draft this season or last, coupled with a failed investment in former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins, has left Washington in quarterback limbo.
You need an elite quarterback in today’s league to compete with the best teams, and Washington doesn’t have that.
Behind Fitzpatrick in the depth chart are Heinicke and Allen. Neither did much to impress or show the makings of a reliable starter for more than a couple games.
Washington has a great defense and strong pieces on offense, but you can only do so much without strong quarterback play.
Fitzpatrick threw just 13 touchdowns last season to eight interceptions, hardly a dynamic young arm.
To Make the Playoffs (+150)
Betting on Washington to make the playoffs at +150 is solid value, considering it won the NFC East last season and has only gotten better.
Washington added wide receiver Curtis Samuel from Carolina in the offseason, which brings a new dynamic playmaker to town. Samuel’s presence should only elevate McLaurin and Gibson’s offensive game.
Samuel had 1,051 total yards of offense last season and five touchdowns.
As mentioned, Fitzpatrick is a temporary fix at the quarterback position.
Yes, Fitzpatrick is not the long-term answer for Washington, but, this is a veteran coming off arguably his best two seasons as a professional.
If Fitzpatrick can maintain the level of play he’s shown the last two seasons, he’s a massive upgrade over the revolving door of passers Washington employed in 2020.
Enough cannot be said about Gibson’s potential. This running back does it all, and was incredibly efficient with the ball in his hands.
With a strong offensive line in tow, the offense is bound to improve, which is exactly what Washington needs to make the playoffs.
We know they have a dominant defense, and defense wins championships. Chase Young has barely scratched the surface of the player he can be.
Linebacker Jamin Davis, their first-round pick in 2021, joins a loaded defense as an athletic hybrid linebacker. Davis will only further jolt what is an exceptional unit.
Together, we’re left with a well-balanced team on both ends that has playoff experience and is hungry for more. We’re here to bring you the best possible NFL predictions and the Redskins are a team we like.
It helps that Washington has a well-respected and experienced coach, Ron Rivera, running the team.
To Win the NFC East (+225)
If +150 to make the playoffs was a good bet, +225 to win the NFC East is better. Bet on Washington to win this division.
The Dallas Cowboys are the favorites to win the NFC East, partly due to their loaded offense, but mostly due to the annual Dallas-bump. The Cowboys are always hyped up before the season starts, and the odds reflect that.
Washington should be the favorite to win this division, considering they did so in 2020.
They have a significantly better defense than Dallas, and a better offensive line and able skill-position players. If Ryan Fitzpatrick can just be smart with the football and stay on the field, Washington should put up points in 2021.
The rest of the division leaves a lot to be desired, further bolstering Washington’s case. The Giants are running it back with quarterback Daniel Jones, who hasn’t shown much in his first two seasons in the league.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia cleaned house and hired a new coach and will be rolling with Jalen Hurts at quarterback. The Eagles have too many question marks to be trusted.
Washington is in a great position heading into 2021 when it comes to NFL divisional odds.
To Win the NFC (+2500)
If Washington is going to make a run at a Super Bowl berth, it will need elite-level play from their defensive line, a jump in play from their secondary, and Fitzpatrick to play the best football of his life, at age 39. Their NFL conference odds sit at +2500.
Together, it sounds daunting, but crazier things have happened in the NFL.
This defensive line has the potential to wreck offenses every week. With more pressure coming from the front-four, that gives Washington the freedom to put more defensive backs on the field to slow down opposing passing attacks.
The team brought in a handful of secondary players through free agency to fill in holes and add depth. Pro Football Focus graded this unit as the sixth-best in the NFL, while Football Outsiders had Washington’s pass-defense as the second-best in the league.
Washington can shut down teams defensively and make a deep postseason run because of it.
Fitzpatrick is the difference-maker for Washington to have a chance. He seems ageless at the moment, and is in a solid situation that plays to his strengths. With McLaurin, Samuel, Gibson and Thomas, this offense should take a leap.
The NFC is an interesting conference. Tampa Bay returns the entire team that won the Super Bowl, and the NFC West is strong, but after that – the conference is wide open.
It seems like Green Bay is bound for a down year with Aaron Rodgers wanting out, and New Orleans is navigating a new quarterback situation.
It’s not inconceivable to see a path for Washington to the Super Bowl.
To Win the Super Bowl (+5000)
The Washington Football team are big longshots to win it all, with their current Super Bowl odds sitting at +5000. Is Fitzpatrick really going to author a Super Bowl championship run? The most comparable quarterback in quality is Nick Foles, who had to only piece together a few games of magic.
This would be an entire year of Fitzmagic, which is a lot to ask for. A star quarterback feels like a necessity for a Super Bowl winning team, and Fitzpatrick isn’t that. When Super Bowl betting, it’s important to make smart wagers that don’t throw money away.
A couple playoff wins feels like the peak of what Washington can accomplish in 2021.