The Redskins have checked in at 20th on ESPN's most recent Power Rankings, a significant improvement for a 4-12 team previously ranked 29 but far from the top of the heap where their fans desire them to be.
What's confusing to me is that John Clayton, who ranks the team higher than any other voter at 15, comments that "New QB Donovan McNabb should add a touchdown per game to the Redskins' offense." Simple math tells us that, based on last year's statistics and Clayton's prediction, the Redskins should average around 24 points per game. If that type of scoring - rarely seen the past decade in Washington, DC - doesn't vault the team into the Top 10 of the league's standings, the defense would have to be a serious disappointment.
The other NFC East teams check in at 4th (Dallas), 16th (New York), and 17th (Philadelphia).
But ESPN isn't the only media outlet already releasing predictions for the upcoming season. If you're like me, you put a lot more weight into Football Outsiders' analysis than mainstream media.
According to Mister Irrelevant, the Redskins will be one of three NFC East teams to make the playoffs. They average 9.2 wins throughout their simulations. In addition, in 90 percent of the simulations the team averages 7 wins or more.
So what do we make of these predictions? Honestly, I have no idea. The NFC appears wide open. Look no further than the Vikings and Saints being predicted to miss the playoffs. After both teams' successes last year, I'm not so sure I can believe that.
But hey, anything that puts the Redskins in the playoffs and leaves the Cowboys on the outside looking in makes me smile.