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Some Preseason Love: ESPN Surprisingly High On Redskins, Not On Cowboys

Shae Cronin@@BetBigDCCorrespondent IAugust 28, 2010

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 21:  Donovan McNabb #5 of the Washington Redskins throws a pass during the preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens at FedExField on August 21, 2010 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

In the most recent edition of ESPN The Magazine (Sept. 6), the four-letter network put together their 2010 NFL Preview, with the Ravens’ Ray Lewis ripping through the cover.

Typically, the nation and it’s larger sport media networks are obsessed with Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys, year in and year out—commonly using the excuse that the Cowboys are America’s team (false). However, this season seems to have a little bit of a twist.

ESPN’s segment of the preview entitled, “Texas Two-Step”, was described as an analysis of all 32 teams by Ron Jaworski, John Gruden, and the brains at Football Outsiders.

Beginning with 2010 season predictions, Jaws had the Redskins earning a wildcard berth but likes the Ravens beating the the Cowboys in the Super Bowl (gross). ESPN, represented by the name ‘The Mag’, had the Redskins earning a wildcard berth as well, and they like the Ravens over the Packers in the Super Bowl. And Gruden, well, he didn’t give the Redskins an ounce of love and he picked the Colts to get some revenge over the Saints in the Super Bowl.

Next up was the breakdown of each division. For this segment, each team was listed with a projected record, a best-case scenario, a worst-case scenario, and the team’s average win total. Surprised by these kind words…

The panel projects the Redskins, Eagles, and Giants to all go 9-7 in 2010, with the Eagles finishing first in the division, the Skins finishing second, and the Giants finishing third. Unfortunately for Cowgirls’ fans, the panel has them finishing last in the division with an 8-8 record. How sweet it is!

The best-case scenario for the Redskins in 2010 is described as Donovan McNabb arriving for his last hurrah, which is obviously every fan’s dream this year. The worst-case scenario is described as the team not being able to find a partner opposite Santana Moss and taking on the season with has-been veterans—which is why we still scratch our heads when we hear that Joey Galloway is starting.

Using their advanced computer projection system, Football Outsiders ran 10,000 simulations of the 2010 regular season. Then, based on the outcomes, Football Outsiders calculated each team’s average win total.

The Redskins finished with an average win total of 9.2, which would give the Redskins more than double their wins from just a year ago. According to the distribution charts provided, the Redskins registered nine wins in 19-percent of the simulations. And what’s even more shocking is that a slightly smaller percentage, but still reasonable, had the team registering ten wins. Not too shabby either way.

As a quick tidbit in the pages of the preview, an “NFL Confidential” segment was included. Amongst the number of mostly personal questions, the question of “Who Is The Last Coach You’d Play For?” was pretty intriguing.

While new Redskins’ coach Mike Shanahan didn’t place tops amongst the league’s least-favorite coaches (Eric Mangini earned that), Shanahan did earn a cool 10.9-percent (tying NYG’s Tom Coughlin).

Although it seems a little hard to believe because of the most recent change in team attitude, a veteran was quoted as saying, “…[Shanahan] just doesn’t seem like a fun guy to be around.”

Finally, referring back to the simulations performed by Football Outsiders, all 32 teams were broken down into ‘On The Clock’ (worst team status), ‘Loserville’, ‘Pretender’, ‘Playoff Contender’, and ‘Super Bowl Threat’.

Despite no team from the NFC receiving the honor of being a ‘Super Bowl Threat’ (sorry New Orleans), the Redskins earned a pretty respectable spot as a ‘Playoff Contender’. The only others beating out the Redskins’ 9.2 win-average is the category-leading Falcons (9.6), the Cardinals (9.4), and the Packers (9.4).

And maybe the greatest part of the entire simulation/calculation process is the fact that the Dallas Cowboys are labeled as ‘Pretenders’, averaging just 7.5 wins.

As one that believes in “better late than never” (at least for this scenario), it appears as if the worldwide leader in sports has wised up a bit and realized that there’s more to it than just team popularity.

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