- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Washington Redskins are going to the playoffs, baby. Wait, no — they’re going to finish last in the division.

The football media is split on how the Redskins will fare this season, Year 5 of the Jay Gruden era, with a new quarterback and running back starting Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

The rosiest predictions come from Will Brinson of CBS Sports and Walter Cherepinsky of WalterFootball.com, who see Washington finishing 10-6. Brinson even picked the Redskins to win the NFC East

“I’ve been on the Redskins all offseason as a sleeper to flip this division for the second year in a row … but it certainly took a hit when Derrius Guice went down with an ACL and I’m not sure that Adrian Peterson automatically fixes everything,” Brinson wrote. “But I do believe this offensive line is secretly the best in the division and I think Alex Smith gives them a nice upgrade in terms of floor at QB. There are plenty of weapons and the defense is underrated (so is Jay Gruden).”

Cherepinsky pointed out the Redskins‘ offense was potent early in the 2017 season, before most of the starting offensive line was lost to injury.

“The Redskins fell apart late in the year, but only because of countless injuries that were discussed earlier,” he wrote. “If the Redskins have better luck, they should be able to challenge for a playoff spot.”

Those outlooks are outnumbered, however, by those that say the Redskins will be mediocre or worse this season. CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco and Nate Davis of USA Today marked Washington down at 7-9.

“It appears they’re set up for a promising start but a brutal finish, including a stretch of four of five on the road starting with a Thanksgiving game at Dallas,” Davis wrote. “But don’t be surprised if this offense is better under Alex Smith than it was with Kirk Cousins.”

Smith’s name predictably comes up in other previews, as well, but the loss of Guice, the promising rookie running back, seems to have weighed heavily in Redskins‘ projections.

“The running game and consistency in the running game is definitely the concern,” an anonymous league executive told ESPN. “Alex Smith is going to do everything they want him to do, but you still need to help him out a little bit. Look at the support he had with (previous head coaches) Jim Harbaugh and Andy Reid. Do they have that?”

Washington ranks 19th in ESPN’s preseason power rankings. ESPN set their over/under at 6.5 wins, while the analytics site FiveThirtyEight pegs it at 7.2 wins.

Finally, some analysts believe it will be more of the same for the Redskins — even a step backward. Sports Illustrated’s Andy Benoit has them finishing last in the NFC East at 5-11. Most of NFL Network’s analysts peg them at 6-10 or 5-11.

But the faint of heart should steer clear of Sporting News, whose writer likes Washington to plummet to 2-14.

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