I can honestly say I expected the Washington Redskins to be 3-2 at this point in the season, although the teams they beat are surprises. By outlasting the Green Bay Packers, the 'Skins beat the fourth-ranked team on the Bloguin NFL Week Four Power Poll.
Washington's win had a big impact on the media-types. ESPN's sports writers promoted Washington the 11th in their power poll. They had the 'Skins at No. 16 going into the weekend.
Those media types are easily swayed by the last game they see and by the luminaries on the team. ESPN's John Clayton is no exception. Everything about the Redskins is Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb. Clayton buys into this and rates the Redskins No. 7. In contrast, stat-masters follow the numbers.
Paul Bessire at Predictionmachine.com projected a 6.5-win season for the Redskins after simulating all NFL games 50,000 times. I checked with Bessire to see how his Redskins simulation changed after the team's performance in the first four games. Bessire's Predictilator now has the 'Skins winning 7.5 to 8.5 games now. He projects a fourth-place finish in the division with a mere 21.7 percent chance to make the playoffs.
What has changed it that the Predictilator shows the Redskins closer to winning now than in the preseason. In the Prediction Machine's game-by-game simulation, The Redskins won 44.4 percent of the simulated games against the Colts. Before the season, the Prediction Machine had the 'Skins winning 30 percent of the simulations.
Before the season, the Prediction Machine showed the Redskins winning 37 percent of the simulations against the Bears and 56.5 percent of the simulated games against the Lions. After four live-action games, Bessire's Prediction Machine changed to the 'Skins winning 55.1 percent of the simulations against the Bears and 47.2 percent of the simulations against the Lions.
Note the flip in the projected outcome for the Bears and the Lions. Oh my!
Redskins Hog Heaven is a member of the Bloguin network, so I participate in the Bloguin's NFL Power Poll. I'm guided by points scored, points allowed, offensive line rank and win-loss record in my ranking system. I have the Redskins ranked 18th in the power poll to be released late this week. By that formula, the Cowboys rate ahead of the 'Skins because of points allowed and a strong O-line. (I should have knocked them down a peg or two, but stayed faithful to the process.)
I have the New York Giants as the class of the division after two strong showings. It will be interesting to see if the rest of the Bloguin voters agree.
From what we've seen in the first five games, the last-place Redskins defense will carry the team until McNabb and Shanahan light a fire under this offense.