Sunday, November 14, 2010

No, the Redskins are not making the playoffs

The Redskins are 4-4, and are probably lucky to be 4-4.  Remember, the Packers had an overtime field goal bounce off the crossbar and the Bears had a pick-6 called back because the Redskins pulled a Homer by getting called for delay of game before they could run their disastrously failed play.

My point is that the Redskins, while not quite terrible, are not all that good. And that people may as well stop reacting to events as if they expect the Redskins to be all that good.

Just how not-that-good are the Redskins? Let's ask some Math Guys. Brian Burke of Advanced NFL Stats has the Redskins ranked 18th overall based on his offensive and defensive efficiency metrics.  Meanwhile Football Outsiders' DVOA places the Redskins 22nd. So there's general agreement that the Redskins are a slightly below average team.

Now let's look at how these same metrics rank the Redskins' remaining opponents:

Week 10 - Eagles - Brian Burke: 6, Football Outsiders: 1
Week 11 - at Titans - BB 4, FO 3
Week 12 - Vikings - BB 15, FO 21
Week 13 - at Giants - BB 3, FO 2
Week 14 - Buccaneers - BB 23, FO 23
Week 15 - at Dallas - BB 21, FO 27
Week 16 - at Jaguars - BB 28, FO 24
Week 17 - Giants - BB 3, FO 2

So there are four games (Eagles, Titans, and Giants twice) where the Redskins are clearly outclassed by their opponent and pulling out a win would be a pretty huge upset. But its the NFL and such things happen, and we have a defense with the kind of big play ability that can steal a game, so let's say we eek out aone win out of these four.

Then there are four more games (Vikings, Tampa, Dallas, Jacksonville) where the Redskins are in roughly the same tier as their opponent and it would stand to reason they have about a 50-50 chance of winning each. So let's call those 2-2.

This would mean we are still on pace for my preseason prediction of 7-9. Obviously there are a lot of variables that will go into this tiny 8 game sample, so 3-5 over the second half is only a reasonable middle of the road scenario.

So with that in mind here are a few key points:

- Three wins out of the remaining 8 would not be a collapse but would be right in line with where I and most others think this teams stands quality-wise.

- Simple luck or other unanticipated variables could lead to fewer than 3 more wins.

- Obviously, for the Redskins to have even an outside shot at the playoffs a lot would have to go right. And since from looking at the standings it appears highly unlikely that both wildcards could come from the NFC East, that means a lot would also have to go very, very wrong for either New York or Philadelphia. While the unexpected can always happen, there is nothing we know now that should lead us to think of the Redskins as playoff contenders.

So again, 7 or even fewer wins for the season would be an expected outcome. Not a collapse, not evidence of a "culture of losing" or "lack of heart" or "not knowing how to win," just the expected performance of a team with many well-known flaws.  And right about where a majority of writers and fans thought the team would be back in August.


  1. The 2010 Redskins are just barely better than the 4-12 2009 Redskins.


  2. Interesting you should bring that up, as I was just thinking something very much like that.

    In my opinion the '09 Redskins were both bad and terribly unlucky. They were maybe a 6-10 or 7-9 team that lost a couple wins due to luck.

    Just off the top of my head:

    Carolina's punter makes a short punt which bounces off of Byron Westbrook's leg, giving them the ball back and probably costing us the game.

    Against the Saints there's Kareem Moore's interception followed by his fumble, then later Mike Sellers' fumble that was not initially called but then enforced on replay despite the complete lack of "indisputable evidence." And of course Suisham missing a 23 yd FG that could have sealed it.

    Obviously fumbles and missed field goals are failures of skill, but when they are timed just perfectly to cost you wins then that is largely luck.

    So even if the Redskins end up with 2-3 more wins than '09 you might be hard-pressed to say they were that much better. But we'll see how it goes the rest of the way.

  3. Nice Simpsons' reference. Haven't heard that one in a long time.

  4. Had been hoping to find the video of Magic Johnson pulling a Homer to win his game, but no such luck.