Washington's Resurgence

Dan Snyder's football team is not an easy one to root for. The litany of abuses that Snyder is responsible for at this point borders on the comical. Token Native Americans (some of whom probably aren't even Native American!) are trotted out to claim that no one is offended by "Redskins". There's also the normal rich-guy stuff like treating the fans who support his team like garbage (insanely high parking fees, suing season ticket holders). For the complete list, I highly recommend Dave McKenna's piece for the Washington City Paper.  Simply put, no team in the league demands cognitive dissonance in order to root for them like Washington's does.

But football isn't played in the press, which is good, because Snyder's local press that exists only to suck up to him doesn't operate beyond the DC area. His football team will line up and play 16 games in search of an NFC East title, and it might be more within reach than conventional wisdom would suggest.

The largest question mark is obviously the QB situation. It really doesn't make sense to move on from RGIII as long as he remains on the roster. He was hailed as the savior after his rookie year, and since they mortgaged the future to get him, justifying him backing up Kirk Cousins is impossible. Also, he's the only QB on the roster who has shown that he has the ability to put an entire season of good football together. For the sake of argument, let's assume that he is the starter and can stay healthy for the majority of the season. It's not unreasonable for him to put up stats that fall a bit short of his rookie breakout, but are solidly above-average.

The rest of the roster has holes, but some are more glaring than others. New GM Scot McCloughan has been surprisingly adept at restraining Dan Snyder's pocketbook this far into free agency. The only player of note to sign with the team to this point is DT Stephen Paea, a good interior lineman who should improve the pass rush. Finding some secondary help in the draft will be crucial, but Washington can certainly climb into the top half of the league if they catch a couple of breaks.

The offense will clearly rely on decent QB play, but the weapons around the signal-caller are good enough to be a top-10 unit. The offensive unit finished 13th overall in 2014 despite being led by the banged-up RG3/Kirk Cousins/Colt McCoy pu pu platter deluxe. This is hardly resounding praise for a team, but the real reason Washington will be a factor in 2015 is because the remainder of the NFC East all have big question marks entering the season.

The Cowboys are defending champs, but their continued success is dependent on Tony Romo staying healthy for the entire year, not guaranteed as the QB enters his age-35 season. Even if a hypothetical injury doesn't keep him out of games, Romo relies heavily on a full range of mobility to be effective. They'll also have to replace DeMarco Murray's 1,800 yards, and although they probably sold high on him after running him into the ground with 392 carries, Darren McFadden just isn't going to give you the same kind of production.

The Eagles have fully committed to the Chip Kelly era, and it could pay off handsomely for them. It also could be a disaster. Unless something unforeseen happens, the plan in Philadelphia is to enter 2015 with Sam Bradford as the starting quarterback. The Rams have had that plan since 2010. Their record during that stretch was 29-50-1.

The Giants will be an enigma once again, but I'll defer to the much more talented Bill Barnwell for his description of the team's offseason following their 6-10 campaign. Barnwell struggles to find the logic in New York's offseason moves, saying, "I wish I could find the same strand of sense in what the Giants have done over the past few days." The Giants will need a serious return to form from Eli Manning to compete, and that's a tough thing to prognosticate.

But pretending you can see into the future is a big part of writing sports articles, so here it goes: I'm going to go out on a limb and predict a full season of health for RGIII and an  NFC East title for Washington in 2015-16. The key is to make outlandish predictions like this EARLY. If it goes wrong, no one will remember. If it is somehow prescient (if picking the right outcome out of four possibilities is prescient), I'll never let anyone forget I wrote this!

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