If you ask any NFL expert where the Redskins will finish in the division, just about all of them will tell you fourth place—dead last.
I don't quite believe that myself, though. There are a lot of reasons why the Redskins can finish on top of the division. I'll break down a lot of the reasons and, hopefully, convince you to become optimistic in just the first year of the Robert Griffin III era in D.C.
1. There is an actual receiving corps
It may not be the best in the league, but it will be a huge improvement over the last few years. Santana Moss is healthy and ready to go in Week 1, and this time he won't be expected to be the top guy, which should free him up very nicely.
The addition of Josh Morgan can be seen as somewhat of an upgrade over Donte Stallworth, and Pierre Garcon should be the big play receiver the Redskins (and RGIII) sorely need. Add the fact that there is a very good tight end in Fred Davis, and the 'Skins shouldn't have as much of a problem getting the ball down the field through the air this year.
Plus, this time around, there is depth. Leonard Hankerson will come off of the bench to start the season and most consider him good enough to be a starting receiver on many NFL teams. Add one of the fastest kick returners in the league (Brandon Banks) and you have yourself a nice bench.
2. Michael Vick can't keep away from the injury bug
When the arguably most dynamic quarterback in the division can't stay healthy, that causes a lot of problems. The Eagles struggled in 2011 without (and even with) Michael Vick.
Now, you never want to wish an injury upon somebody, but there is no rule that says you can't predict one. It's almost not even a prediction, but an almost guarantee. Nick Foles has looked good in the preseason, but no one is sure if he can lead a team. Especially one that carries as much drama and fan pressure as the Philadelphia Eagles.
Without their top quarterback, you can bet that the Eagles will be in trouble and may even cost Andy Reid his job, which would be nice to most of the Redskins fans.
3. RGIII of course
Let's say that Griffin comes in and is everything that he was cracked up to be from day one. He's running the ball, he's passing the ball, he's scoring touchdowns. Defenses have a hard time preparing for him and an even harder time stopping him.
Then the Redskins not only become an instant division contender, but a Super Bowl contender as well. If you can combine the stats of Cam Newton's rookie campaign with the clutchness of a Tom Brady or Eli Manning, and you have yourself a quarterback that can carry any team in the league.
I'm expecting it to take a couple of seasons for him to fully get to that level in his career, but who's to say it couldn't start right away?
4. There is still a December on the calendar
Just like Vick's injuries, a disappointing final month in Dallas is almost a guarantee. And guess who plays the Cowboys twice during the holidays? That's right, the Redskins.
They could be the benefactors of the typical Dallas December, much like the New York Giants were in 2011 when they defeated the Cowboys twice in December to clinch the division title. Do you remember what happened to them after that? They won the Super Bowl.
5. The linebacking corps is pretty good
Featuring three Pro Bowl caliber linebackers, the Redskins boast arguably the best corps in the entire league. London Fletcher, Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo all have the ability to put up huge numbers this season.
It doesn't matter how bad your secondary is if you can get to the quarterback before he throws it. Again, ask the New York Giants. The necessity for a top pass rush in a passing league is undeniable, and the Redskins may have that.
Don't count out Perry Riley either, as he has looked very good in the preseason and appears more able each week to eventually replace London Fletcher after his retirement.
Where will the Redskins finish in the division in 2012?
6. The Giants have won two Super Bowls, so why not?
In this division, you basically just have to have nine wins and you can win a Super Bowl. Assuming that Griffin is a good quarterback, the Redskins have a similar team to the Giants—good passing game, questionable running game, good pass rush, questionable secondary.
Don't forget, last year's champions lost to the Redskins twice by a combined score of 51-24. If they can take care of the G-Men and at least split with both the Eagles and Cowboys, then a division title wouldn't just be possible, it would be more than likely.
So there you have it.
Hopefully, you have read this with an open mind and have now realized that it just might not be so crazy for the underdogs to win the NFC East. Remember that if the Jets would have defeated the Giants in Week 16 last season, the Eagles would have won it at 8-8. This is a very winnable division and the Redskins pieces are starting to fall into place after 13 years without a title.