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Redskins Face Long Odds in 2017 After a Tumultuous Offseason

A season mired in mediocrity afflicted the Redskins in 2016 and an all-around gutless effort in Week 17 against a Giants team that had nothing to play for saw them miss the playoffs after a promising run the year before. Since then, off-field drama has directed the headlines in the nation’s capital and a successful campaign for Washington is looking like a long shot at this point.

In the center of it all, it’s the face of the franchise, quarterback Kirk Cousins, and the debate about what to do with him long term. His stats as a starter the last two seasons would indicate that he’s one of the best signal-callers in the NFL but Kirk’s performances in crunch time have so far left a lot to be desired. Once again given the franchise tag, Cousins has one more chance to prove he can be the commander-in-chief for the Washington offensive unit.

Turnover in the receiving corps, however, has thrown some question marks into an already interesting stew on O that includes the total absence of a running game. Much of the Redskins’ potential to flourish in 2017 is hinged on the largely unproven wide receiver convert Terrelle Pryor and how well the former QB meshes with Kirk after Cousins’ top targets booked tickets out of town.

Beefing up on defense through free agency and the draft, improving a ball-stopping unit that allowed the fifth-most yards in the NFL a season ago was clearly a priority for the Washington brass. Can the additions they made in the offseason help this team cut through the bull and sneak into the playoffs with the league’s seventh-toughest schedule?

Let’s see what the odds from Bovada are saying:

Super Bowl +5000

Highly improbable to the say the least, a Washington Redskins Super Bowl win will require more than a few minor to major miracles along the way. Their 50/1 odds are the longest of any team in the competitive NFC East and put them ahead of just four other teams in their conference.

It would be foolish to say it’s not in the realm of possibility but given Kirk’s body of work in his first five seasons, I’m not confident he’s the guy to lead the ’Skins to their first Super Bowl since 1992 and his third consecutive “show me” contract proves that I’m not the only person who thinks that.

For fantasy purposes, Cousins is like Leonardo da Vinci, painting a new masterpiece almost weekly. When you look at his underlying numbers, however, a very disturbing picture is unveiled about his real-life application and Mona Lisa’s smile very quickly turns into a frown.

Last year alone, Cousins put together a horrendous 64.2 passer rating in the last two minutes of the first and second halves. You know what’s really important in the playoffs? The last two minutes of the first and second halves.

The highlight reel of Cousins’ flounderings in the clutch is far too long for having just two full years as a No. 1 signal-caller under his belt and unless he flips the script, he’ll never lift the Lombardi Trophy as a starting quarterback.

NFC East +500

Again, Washington has the longest odds here of any team in its crowded division and with the toughest schedule of the four, that math makes sense.

Bookmakers are expecting the NFC East to finish tightly – as it usually does – with win totals spanning from Washington’s 7.5 to the Giants’ 9.

From my perspective, though, the Redskins are the only team in the NFC East that got tangibly worse in a topsy-turvy offseason and while no one program has won the division in consecutive years since 2004, it just doesn’t feel like it’s Washington’s turn in the rotation.

There is some betting value with this football club, it’s just not on them to win the division.

Win Total – 7.5

Eclipsing this total just one time since taking over head coaching duties in 2014, Jay Gruden has his work cut out for him in his fourth season as the bench boss in the DMV if he and the ’Skins are going to go .500.

Looking more closely at their schedule, I see two games against the Rams and 49ers that they should definitely win but beyond that, it’s slim pickings. To breach their total, Cousins and company will have to post a winning record in division games, something they’ve done just once in the last four seasons.

Needless to say, I’ll be siding with the UNDER on this prop bet.

Kirk Cousins to lead the NFL in Passing Yards +1600

When learning how to write speeches in junior high, I was always told: “Say what you’re going to say, say it, say it again.” I’m using that method here to wrap up this preview where the central theme has been that Kirk Cousins is great at putting up stats, but not much else.

Finishing third in the NFL in passing yards last year behind Brees and Ryan, Kirk – by product of having one of the worst rushing attacks in football – was forced to air the ball out all season and there’s a good chance he’ll have to do the same thing again this campaign. Because of that, the +1600 line for him to top that list in 2017 seems asinine.

Sure, he’ll be working with some new faces but who won’t be? Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed – the two familiar targets in the Washington receiving corps – should give Cousins steady receptions and I’m expecting them to both top 1,000 yards.

Add the explosive ability of Terrelle Pryor to the mix and it’s arguable – assuming good chemistry – that Kirk has just as many weapons as he did in 2016. This is one of my favorite bets on the entire preseason NFL board.

2017 Washington Redskins Futures Odds
Super Bowl+5000
NFC Championship+2500
NFC East+500
Win Total 7.5

Odds as of August 17 at Bovada