Andrew Luck sweepstakes here we come.......
Perceived as a team that can't win, the Washington Redskins seem like a team destined towards another losing season. Finishing at .500 would be miraculous and playoffs is simply ridiculous.
Every season there is at least one team that defies the odds and far exceeds expectations.
Unlike past seasons, I can see the 2011 Washington Redskins being that team.
They addressed positions of need throughout free agency and the NFL draft, and enter their second season under Mike Shanahan and Co. There has already been a significant improvement in the fluidity of play throughout the preseason.
Players such as Barry Cofield, Oshiomogho Atogwe and Jabar Gaffney can be the type of players this team has so desperately needed for years....motivated leaders. The culture in Washington has changed.
Complacency and laziness abounded throughout most of the past decade, but Shanahan has brought a "will to win" back to D.C., and it's evident in the desire of possible starter John Beck.
Beck was esteemed coming out of college, however has since been forgotten by the league after falling under the radar. Tim Hightower never got a chance to showcase his full potential in Arizona, and this is his opportunity.
The 2011 Washington Redskins may not be Pro Bowlers, but sometimes a team united and motivated can do more damage than a collection of superstars.
Going into the season opener, both teams face injuries on defense. The New York Giants lost first-round pick Prince Amukamara to injury for the season, and the Redskins have recently lost DE Jarvis Jenkins to a season-ending ACL tear.
LaRon Landry, arguably the best young player on the team, enters the Giants game with question marks regarding his hamstring. Chris Cooley, a leader on offense, is also nursing a knee injury.
Washington wants to prove to the world that their preseason numbers were no fluke, so expect Shanahan to pull all the plays out of the playbook against the Giants. The Redskins have been unable to win against their New York rivals in recent years, but that ends on Sept. 11, as Barry Cofield and the Washington Redskins take advantage of Eli Manning's poor decisions.
Prediction: New York Giants 17, Washington Redskins 20
The Redskins host the Arizona Cardinals following an encouraging start, and the fans show up to FedEx Field in full force. Washington owns the first half, keeping Beanie Wells virtually ineffective and showing the Cardinals why it was a mistake to let Tim Hightower leave the desert.
However, Kevin Kolb brings the Cardinals back into striking distance in the second half and leads a final scoring drive in the closing minutes.
Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 31, Washington Redskins 28
All bets are off this Monday night. When these two teams meet there is no clear winner regardless of records or scores.
The Redskins get their first taste of Tony Romo since his touchdown pass to Roy Williams was called back thanks to a holding penalty. In this game, offense takes a backseat as both quarterbacks feel the heat and make poor decisions with their throws.
Both Hightower and Jones have costly fumbles, and the game is extended to overtime. The Redskins choose to attempt a risky 52-yard field goal, and Graham Gano delivers.
Prediction: Washington Redskins 13, Dallas Cowboys 10
Whenever the Redskins come off a big victory and their next opponents are the St. Louis Rams, bad things happen. In fact almost every time the Redskins play the Rams, bad things happen. That wont change here.
Oshiomogho will have a good game against his former team, but the effort won't be enough. The Redskins' offense won't put up the numbers necessary to contend with the Rams air-it-out offense led by Josh McDaniels, and the defense will give up just a little too much.
Prediction: Washington Redskins 13, St. Louis Rams 24
DeAngelo Hall better have been right on the money when he said the Redskins still talk about the Monday night circus against Philadelphia last season, and when the Eagles return to FedEx Field, the Redskins will show up this time.
After lots of criticism for their poor play against St. Louis, the Redskins quiet the haters when they quiet Philadelphia's "Dream" offense. Pressure from London Fletcher, Brian Orakpo, Barry Cofield and Ryan Kerrigan will cause Vick to dance around and make poor decisions leading to turnovers.
The Redskins will avenge their embarrassing loss to the Eagles last season by turning in a stellar performance in front of their home crowd.
Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 21, Washington Redskins 23
Coming off their third consecutive division win, the Redskins are beginning to look like the 2010 Oakland Raiders, beating their division but no one else. After the Redskins return home from visiting the Carolina Panthers, that story will have changed.
Shutting down the Panthers boils down to stopping Cam Newton. The Redskins will shut down the first-overall pick and take another victory in Charlotte.
Tim Hightower and Ryan Torain will have a big game rushing for a combined 200 yards.
Prediction: Washington Redskins 27, Carolina Panthers 14
The Redskins enter their first inter-conference game with a surprising record of 4-2. In front of a Canadian audience, the Redskins improve their record to 5-2, but not without a fight.
Buffalo's defense makes the victory very difficult, with Shawne Merriman and Marcell Dareus getting pressure on the quarterback and slowing down Washington's suddenly red-hot running attack.
Unfortunately, the Bills don't have the offense to match their defense's performance.
Prediction: Washington Redskins 14, Buffalo Bills 10
The league is starting to buy into the Washington Redskins. They're "drinking the Kool-Aid." And they're drinking even more after the Redskins defeat the San Francisco 49ers at home.
The 49ers are a team with lots of potential, but lack solid play out of the quarterback position to utilize it. Colin Kaepernick takes the reins of the team in this game and fails to deliver a victory for rookie coach Jim Harbaugh.
The Redskins don't necessarily play their best game, but they get just enough for the close victory.
Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 9, Washington Redskins 13
The Miami Dolphins host the Redskins, who are riding a four-game winning streak, but unfortunately that run ends here. Chad Henne and the Miami Dolphins haven't had much success in 2011, but they put together a solid performance against Washington and the Redskins don't counter with much offense.
The defense plays well but not well enough.
Prediction: Washington Redskins 15, Miami Dolphins 24
The Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins enter their second meeting of 2011 tied with a record of 6-3. For the first time in a long time, the Redskins-Cowboys game will carry significant weight with both teams eyeing a playoff berth.
The game is a back and forth contest, as they usually are, and both teams put up big offensive numbers, but the Cowboys get the last laugh, and the FedEx faithful watch a disappointing loss in a crucial game.
Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 34, Washington Redskins 28
The Redskins make their first trip to Seattle since their emotional 2007 season came to a close in a 35-14 loss in the NFL Wild-Card Round. As much as it was inspiring to see the Seattle Seahawks win their division last year and beat New Orleans in the playoffs, this is a very different year.
With extreme lack of depth at the quarterback position, the Seahawks enter the game with one of the league's worst records. The Redskins recognize the need to capitalize on the opportunity and do so.
Prediction: Washington Redskins 27, Seattle Seahawks 10
This is crunch time for the Redskins. Their record is an impressive 7-4, but their schedule takes a turn towards the worst, as they host the New York Jets, New England Patriots and New York Giants in consecutive weeks.
Rex Ryan's Jets come into the game with high playoff expectations, and Rex makes sure the media knows it. It's a closer game than people ever imagined, and the Redskins shock the league by knocking off the New York Jets, by beating them at their own game...on defense.
Prediction: New York Jets 24, Washington Redskins 26
If the win over the New York Jets brought the Redskins into the spotlight, their game against the New England Patriots brings them back down to earth.
Tom Brady and the Patriots bring their A-game to FedEx Field and extend their lead on the AFC East. The Patriots are putting the finishing touches on an incredible season by coming into the game with a record of 11-1.
The Redskins don't play poorly, but their efforts aren't nearly good enough to knock off this superpower.
Prediction: New England Patriots 38, Washington Redskins 20
At 8-5, there's no more room for error. This division game carries a lot of weight as all four teams are tightly packed together with similar records, the Giants come into the game at 7-6, and in need of a win, they deliver.
The New York fans go crazy as they watch Big Blue run their way to a victory of the Redskins and, with it, snatch away the wild-card spot the Redskins possessed.
Prediction: Washington Redskins 16, New York Giants 23
In the final chapter of Shanahan's run-in with McNabb, Shanahan puts all his cards on the table, and with the help of stellar play from his defense, the Redskins come from behind in the fourth quarter to defeat the Vikings.
Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 19, Washington Redskins 22
This is HUGE day for the NFC East, with the Dallas Cowboys being the only team with a guaranteed playoff spot and all other teams deadlocked at 9-6. The Atlanta Falcons have already locked up one of the NFC's coveted wild-card spots, leaving a winner-take-all scenario for every team.
The "Dream Team" Philadelphia Eagles has underwhelmed their fans, but can still salvage the playoff spot with a victory over the Washington Redskins. The game is close throughout and both teams swing momentum back and forth.
With the season on the line, rookie kicker Alex Henery misses a 47-yard field goal at the end of regulation to send the game to overtime. While in overtime, the screens at Lincoln Financial Field indicate that the Dallas Cowboys have defeated the New York Giants 35-31, meaning the winner takes the wild card.
After a good kickoff return by Brandon Banks, the Redskins slowly work their way into field goal range. Graham Gano lines up and kicks the Redskins into the playoffs, sending the Eagles off the field in disappointment.
Prediction: Washington Redskins 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21
Final NFC East Standings
1. Dallas Cowboys (11-5)
2. Washington Redskins (10-6)
3. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)
4. New York Giants (9-7)
In conclusion, this is a very optimistic prediction of the 2011 Redskins season, and some of it is just absurd. However, it's never a bad thing to go into a season with high hopes.
It's been hard to cheer for the Redskins for the past decade, but setting the bar high should be the mindset of every Redskins fan, or any fan for that matter. No fan should ever go into a season accepting defeat.
I'm not part of the annual "Super Bowl predicting" club in Washington, but I never go into a season thinking we'll be picking top 5 in the draft. All the "Andrew Luck or bust" talk has made me sick. If it happens then that's great, but is that honestly the goal? What true fan would want their team to tank a season?
This is one of the youngest, most promising teams ever fielded in recent memory in Washington, and I don't know about you, but I'm excited to see them play. HTTR