Entering last season, Washington coach Jay Gruden was the betting favorite to be the first NFL coach fired. And I thought it would be either him or Miami's Joe Philbin -- it turned out to be Philbin. Gruden now seems to have job security after leading the Redskins to a 9-7 record in 2015 and a surprising NFC East title. He also doesn't have to worry about the fact that Robert Griffin III was buddies with owner Dan Snyder any longer. Gruden didn't use RGII at all last season and the former Offensive Rookie of the Year is now in Cleveland.
Washington caught a huge break a few weeks ago when Carolina shockingly took the franchise tag off Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman. The Redskins pounced as Washington was Norman's first visit and the team wouldn't let him leave until he signed a deal. Norman got five years and $75 million, with his $51.1 million guaranteed the most ever for a cornerback. The Redskins allowed opponents to complete 47.0 percent of passes at least 15 yards downfield last season, 26th in the NFL. So Norman was a big need. He had a career-high four interceptions, 16 passes defensed and 56 tackles last season. The signing didn't impact Redskins futures odds, however.
The Redskins were 3-5 on the road last season (worst away record of any division champion), 4-4 against the spread and 6-2 "over/under." The Redskins travel to just two teams that finished with a winning record in 2015 (both made playoffs). Obviously it helps that the rest of the NFC East all finished below .500. Washington is given a wins total of 7.5 for 2016 at BetOnline. The Redskins better finish around .500 on the road to have a shot at repeating as division champions because their home schedule is way tougher.
Sept. 25 at Giants (-3): New York was 3-5 at home last season and has a 2016 wins total of 8. This could determine Washington's season and whether Gruden stays off the hot seat. I say that because I believe the Redskins might be 0-2 entering this one with home losses vs. Pittsburgh and Dallas in the first two weeks. The G-Men are off a Week 2 home game vs. New Orleans. The Redskins also visited the Giants in Week 3 last season and lost 32-21 on a Thursday night. The score was misleading as New York led 25-6 with four minutes left. Washington QB Kirk Cousins was just 11-for-19 for 132 yards and two interceptions in the first three quarters. Key trend: Redskins have lost and failed to cover three straight at the Giants.
Oct. 9 at Ravens (-2.5): Baltimore was 3-5 at home last season and has a 2016 wins total of 8.5. The Battle for the Beltway! Baltimore is off a Week 4 home game vs. Oakland, while Washington is home to Cleveland the previous Sunday. Of their six meetings, this will be only the second time these teams play in Baltimore and first since 2008. The Ravens won that one 24-10. Key trend: Redskins are 2-4 ATS all-time at AFC North teams.
Oct. 23 at Lions (-1): Detroit was 4-4 at home last year and is given a wins total of 7 for this year. The Lions are off a home game vs. the Los Angeles Rams, while Washington is home to Philadelphia the previous Sunday. This is almost a must-win for the Skins as the next seven are very tough. For what it's worth, these teams met last preseason and the Skins won 21-17. They haven't played in the regular season since 2013. Key trend: Skins 4-5-1 ATS in past 10 at NFC North teams.
Oct. 30 at Bengals (-4): This game is in London with a 9:30 a.m. ET start -- thus I won't bother with the Bengals' 2015 home record -- so that's a break for the Redskins as they thus technically have seven true road games instead of eight. This is ahead of the Skins' bye week. It's just the second time Washington has taken part in an international game in recent history. It traveled to Toronto to face the Buffalo Bills in 2011. Of course, Gruden was the former offensive coordinator in Cincinnati under Marvin Lewis. Key trend: Skins are 2-8 ATS in past 10 before their bye week.
Nov. 24 at Cowboys (-3.5): Thanksgiving game. Dallas was an ugly 1-7 at home last season and has a wins total of 9.5. The Cowboys are off a home game vs. Baltimore in Week 11, while Washington is home to Green Bay on the previous Sunday night so that's even shorter of a turnaround. Washington won in Dallas 34-23 in Week 17 last season in a meaningless game for both since the Skins had the division wrapped up. Cousins didn't even play the full first half. Washington is 2-5 all-time at Dallas on Thanksgiving. Key trend: Skins are 8-2 ATS in past 10 in series when a road dog of at least 3 points.
Dec. 4 at Cardinals (-6.5): Arizona was 6-2 at home last season and has a wins total of 9.5. The Cards are off a Week 12 game in Atlanta, while Washington will have extra time to prepare off that Thanksgiving game. This is the Skins' final road game against a team with a winning record in 2015. Teams last played in Week 6 of the 2014 season, a 30-20 Redskins loss in the desert. Washington had four fourth-quarter turnovers, three of them picks by Cousins. Key trend: Skins have covered only three of their past 10 at NFC West teams.
Dec. 11 at Eagles (-2): Philly was 3-5 at home in 2015 and has a wins total of 7.5. The Eagles are off a Week 13 trip to Cincinnati, while Washington concludes a tough three-game road swing. The Redskins won in Philadelphia 38-24 in Week 16 last year to win the NFC East title. Cousins threw for four touchdowns and a season-high 365 yards. DeAngelo Hall changed the game with a fumble return for a TD in the third quarter. Key trend: Skins are 6-4 ATS in past 10 as road dog in series.
Dec. 24 at Bears (pick'em): Chicago was 1-7 at home last season and has a wins total of 7.5. The Bears are off a Week 15 home game vs. Green Bay, while Washington is on a short week as it hosts Carolina the previous Monday. The Redskins' season-ending four-game winning streak last season began with a 24-21 victory in Chicago in Week 14 to end a nine-game road losing streak overall. Cousins threw for 300 yards and a score. Key trend: This is probably the only chance that Washington has a chance to be road favorite so I'll pretend it is. The Skins have covered their past three as a road favorite.
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