The Washington Redskins will finish with six or seven wins this season, according to Paul Bessire, the Stat-master behind The Prediction Machine. He projects the same finish for the Dallas Cowboys, which could mean the 'Skins and 'Boys could end the season fighting to stay out of division last place.
How did it come to this in a season that started so well? Here's Bessire's assessment:
"The Redskins are about as average across the board as any NFL team that I have ever studied. They don’t do anything really well, yet are only really deficient against the run. That would be the biggest difference between our expectations for this team and what the Redskins look like now; we expected a more physical, aggressive team on defense. We saw that physicality earlier in the season, but Washington has lost that edge (and then some) as the season has progressed. Blame it on depth, Albert Haynesworth, scheme, lack of talent or quality of competition, but the inability to hold up against the run has cost the team gravely, particularly against NFC East rivals."
Ouch! The Washington Redskins defense has Norv Turner Syndrome. They've gone soft. Talk as much as you like about the 3-4 defense, Albert Haynesworth and how Mike Shanahan "handled" him, it's pretty clear that somewhere along the way, Washington stopped playing east coast Beastball. You know what that is--run hard so that your offensive linemen can beat up on their defense, and slobber-knocking defense to crush anyone holding the ball.
The Redskins started the season that way. Something happened between the October, when Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was the cheese in the Kareem Moore-DeAngelo Hall sandwich, and last Sunday when the 'Skins were crushed by the New York Giants.
After that loss, fans are pointing fingers at Albert Haynesworth, Mike Shanahan, Dan Snyder, just about everyone. It was the nature of the New York loss that has everyone up in arms. Show strength if you are going to lose. At least that offers hope that we can compete the next time. 'Skins fans don't know what to expect against Tampa Bay. It's unsettling.
East coast smashmouth is so identified with the NFC East that the whole division was branded as the Beast. New York is the lone Beast team adhering to the brand. Philadelphia has remade itself as the most dynamic young offense in the division, nigh unbeatable with Vick at quarterback. They are more panache than power. Don't let Vick escape from the Eagles' roster. He would surely end up in Washington, the closest he can get to a hometown team with his native Newport News, Virginia, and all those Virginia Tech fans near by. Philadelphia would never send three quarterbacks (counting Sonny Jurgensen) to Washington.
The Dallas Cowboys lost the lunch pail mentality that defines the Beast. There are too many egos in that franchise, on the field and in the front office. There are too many rookie divas who won't do this or that in homage to the other ten guys whose grunt work lets them shine. So many stars on the Cowboys, but none too bright.
Shanahan spent his entire head coach career competing in the AFC West. No offense, but those teams were more flash and dash than smash. It's an adjustment for him. I hope he's in.
Redskins Hog Heaven struck a friendly writing relationship with Paul Bessire, the stat-master behind The Prediction Machine. He contributed to our stories in September 2010, Expert's Redskins Outlook: Six wins in 2010, and in November 2010, Stat-Guru Paul Bessire Sees Giants and Eagles in Post-Season.
Bessire's latest projection after running 50,000 simulations each game for every NFL team has NFC division winners as the Eagles, Rams, Falcons and Bears with the Saints beating out the Giants and Packers for the wild card.
Bessire sees the Patriots, Chiefs, Jaguars and Steelers as AFC division winners, with the Ravens as slight favorites to overtake the Jets for the wild card.
Access to Bessire's projections are by subscription to www.predictionmachine.com. And no, I am not compensated to plug his site. I just like his work.