Football coaches like to break the 16-game NFL regular season into quarters. This seems to run contrary to the “taking it one game at a time” philosophy we always hear, but whatever. Four-game quarters is how they approach it. So let’s do the same.
Through the first quarter, the Skins are 3-1. In the Wild Card Era, teams that start 3-1 make the playoffs 72 percent of the time. (I made that up, but it sounds about right.) Now, onward to the next three quarters of the season to see where this team will wind up.
Second Quarter (2-2)
Game 5: Eagles, home. LOSS. Before the season, it didn’t seem possible that the Skins could compete with Philly this season. Now, they may enter this game as the favorites. As much as I want to believe in Washington, I’m still not confident enough to pick them to win. That could change based on how Philly does in Buffalo this weekend. Even at 1-3, they’re a pretty terrifying team to face. /flashbacks to last year.
Game 6: Panthers, away. WIN. I’ll be there with a group of no fewer than eight other Skins fans. We did this two year ago, and Washington lost. That won’t happen again if the 12th MAN has anything to say about it. (We don’t, but Carolina isn’t very good.)
Game 7: Bills, away. LOSS. Buffalo is basically the Skins of the AFC. No one expected them to be 3-1, and no one is really sure how good they are. I’ll give the Bills the benefit of the doubt simply ’cause it’s a road game for Washington.
Game 8: 49ers, home. WIN. A west coast team coming east to play a game at 10 a.m. their time is a huge advantage for the home team. Having said that, S.F. is one meltdown against Dallas away from being 4-0. This is a difficult game to pick.
Third Quarter (3-1)
Game 9: Dolphins, away. WIN. Miami is the worst team in football.
Game 10: Cowboys, home. WIN. The Skins should’ve won the first meeting in Dallas. This one’s at home, and I can’t stand the thought of losing both games to the Cowboys.
Game 11: Seahawks, away. WIN. It’s hard to predict a road victory to the west coast, but Seattle is really, really bad.
Game 12: Jets, home. LOSS. This is a totally winnable game with how the Jets looks right now, but I basically don’t see the Skins winning five games in a row. Analysis!
Fourth Quarter (1-3)
Game 13: Patriots, home. LOSS. Who knows where the Skins will be by mid-December (8-4 if I’m right so far, which I totally am), but it’s hard to imagine they’ll be on par with New England.
Game 14: Giants, away. LOSS. With any luck, this will be a huge divisional game. New York will probably be better by then as they continue to overcome injuries/get players back.
Game 15: Vikings, home. WIN. The way Minnesota is going, McNabb probably won’t be the starter anymore by then. Too bad.
Game 16: Eagles, away. LOSS. Another potentially big NFC East game to close the season if Philly can get on track. If I don’t think the Skins can beat Philly at home, then I’m not gonna pick ‘em on the road either.
Which, let’s be honest, would be impressive for a team most picked to win somewhere between 5-7 games this year. Meaningful football in December should be our hopes and dreams for the Skins in 2011. And it looks like that just might happen.