As we enter the sports purgatory of mid-summer, we must begin looking towards the NFL season as the opener is shockingly less than two months away when the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday, September 9.
While the likes of the aforementioned ‘Bucs and LA Rams are obvious choices to win the NFC Championship, below we’ll preview a promising young team with a stellar defense that will provide us with more value after a surprising playoff berth last season.
All odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
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Though they play in a poor division and don’t possess a team name, or at least one that doesn’t sound like a focus group of toddlers named it, Washington’s success last season was impressive as expectations were low entering the year.
2020 Offensive Statistics:
Record: 7 – 9
Pass YPG: 216.6
Rush YPG: 100.7
Despite flashes of promise from Tyler Heinicke, along with the departure of Alex Smith, the Football Team brought in veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to lead the offense in ’21.
Fitzpatrick should be an upgrade to this offense as he won’t be afraid to sling it. Last season, roughly 60% of his passes traveled 5 yards or more downfield, a stark contrast to Alex Smith, who threw 62.3% of his passes less than 5 yards.
His aggressive nature will be a boon for Terry McLaurin and newcomer Curtis Samuel, as both wideouts will be catching passes from an average to above average (at times) QB for the first time in their young careers.
Fitzmagic’s arrival should help create space for running back Antonio Gibson as teams will respect the pass. Additionally, he may see an uptick in receptions, as we know coach Ron Rivera likes throwing to his ‘backs.
The true strength of this team lies within the defense. Its starting front-four were all first-round draft picks, while the tandem of Montez Sweat and Chase Young on the edge is disputably the best league-wide duo.
Young won the AP Defensive Rookie of the year after posting otherworldly numbers in 2020. In 15 games, he posted: 32 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 4 forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries while scoring a defensive touchdown.
Young’s explosion overshadowed Sweat’s sophomore year, so it went overlooked that he actually registered more sacks than his rookie counterpart. Additionally, he ranked third at his position in run defense – not too shabby.
The Football Teams’ secondary may go overlooked but is strong, as well. The addition of CB William Jackson III will be an improvement after the departure of Ronald Darby, and Kendall Fuller continues to be stellar.
Jackson III surprisingly ranked NO. 9 amongst cornerbacks in the NFL last season after allowing a mere 52% of passes into his coverage to be completed.
The addition of Fitzpatrick may not excite many, but his leadership and experience will undoubtedly improve this team under center. The additions of Curtis Samuel and William Jackson III provide further depth and game-breaking skillsets. Couple these additions with their powerhouse defense, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see this team make a deep playoff run.
Pick: Washington Football Team (+1800)
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Jordan Anderson is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Jordan, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @Jordan_A03.
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