Repeating as NFC East division champions would make the 2021 NFL season a success for Washington Football Team fans. But is there any reason to believe they can pull it off?
They certainly are not expected to, but no one thought they had a chance last season, either. Prior to Week One, only the Carolina Panthers had longer odds to win their division at +3000; Washington’s odds were +2200.
As the season progressed and every NFC East team struggled from one week to the next, Washington’s odds improved. However, as late as Week Ten, they still had the longest odds in the division (+750).
While expectations are low once again, there is no reason to think they cannot win the NFC East. However, while the possibility exists, that does not mean they are a good bet to win the division. But it does not mean they are a bad bet either.
In fact, their odds at sportsbooks in Virginia are not bad at all:
So—can they do it? Should you bet on the Washington Football Team? According to those odds, Washington has around a 28 percent chance of winning the division, second to the Cowboys (about 45 percent). But in the last five seasons, 14 division winners had odds equal to Washington’s or longer.
Is Washington Built To Win Now?
The team is built to be competitive this season, at the least. The defense alone will make sure of that. Last season, the Washington defense ranked No. 4 in scoring and No. 2 in total yards allowed. While they did lose a few pieces in free agency, with the guys they picked up and drafted, the defense should not miss a beat this season.
But the question mark is the offense.
Had it been better last year, they could have had a winning record. Maybe if Ron Rivera had benched Dwayne Haskins for Kyle Allen or Alex Smith sooner, the offense would have been better. But heading into 2021, Haskins is gone and so is Smith. Looking to take the reins will be Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick has had moments of brilliance throughout his career, but he has also had his struggles. In his 14 seasons in the NFL, PFF has graded him as low as 51.8 (in 2016) and as high as 83.9 (2018). His grade has been in the 50s three times, the 60s seven times, the 70s three times, and just once in the 80s.
You could say that while he has been great, he has also been notoriously unreliable.
But the last three seasons have been the best stretch of his career (2018—83.9; 2019—76.5; 2020—75.1). What makes his consistency even more impressive is that he played on two different teams (Tampa Bay in 2018 and Miami in 2019-20).
If the same version of Fitzpatrick the Dolphins and Buccaneers enjoyed can show up, the Washington offense could be good. His offensive line is decent and ranked 16th (according to PFF) headed into the season. He has a rising talent in Antonio Gibson in the backfield with him. J.D. McKissic will add some punch to the run game as well.
As for his receivers, Terry McLaurin is one of the best young talents in the game. Curtis Samuel graded out last season just a shade below McLaurin (77.1; McLaurin’s grade was 78.5). Adam Humphries could become a good third option.
Washington also added two good receivers in the draft in North Carolina’s Dyami Brown and BYU’s Dax Milne.
There is no doubt that Washington will have one of the better defenses in the league once again. But if everything clicks for Fitzpatrick and the offense, Washington could be a dangerous team in 2021—and a good one to bet on.
But The Competition…
Right now, it looks like the only competition Washington fans should be concerned about is the Dallas Cowboys. With a new quarterback, head coach, and offensive/defensive coordinators, the Eagles will be working on just getting everyone on the same page this year.
While there is potential in the Giants, their viability as a contender depends entirely on the continued growth of quarterback Daniel Jones.
As for the Cowboys, the offense should once again be a force to be reckoned with this season. Dak Prescott returns and should wreak havoc on secondaries throwing to CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup. When he is not, Ezekiel Elliot will be churning out yards behind PFF’s sixth-ranked offensive line.
However, if the Dallas defense is as dreadful as last season, it may not matter how high-powered the offense is. While they did upgrade the defensive roster through the draft, they did not do much else (or enough) to improve it.
If the expectation is that new coordinator Dan Quinn will turn the defense around, that may be asking a bit much. Yes, he was the architect behind the Legion of Boom in Seattle, but he also had a lot more talent to work with.
DALLAS DEFENSE DID SOMETHING
— PFF (@PFF) October 25, 2020
Sports Betting Recommendation
Washington is going to be a good team in 2021. Good enough to win the division? Maybe– but whether they will depend on Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Cowboys defense. Had Dallas beefed up its defense, betting on Washington would not be an advisable bet. Since they did not, it comes down to Fitzpatrick.
If you believe in Fitzpatrick, then Washington is a good bet. But do not bet the house on them (outhouse—maybe, but not the house).