The Washington Redskins begin life for real with Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III this Sunday when they go up against the high-flyin’ offensive attack of Drew Brees and the Saints down in New Orleans (1 pm Eastern, Fox).
What are Washington’s prospects as they start the season with a rookie quarterback on the road against a very good team?
A Quick Review
The Redskins started last year 3-1, then went 2-10 the rest of the way. So Washington is now 11-21 under Coach Shanahan, which is worse than the performances that got the last three ‘Skins coaches canned.
Redskins quarterbacks combined to complete less than 60 percent of their passes last year, and compiled a negative TD/INT ratio. Ideally, if we understand this game right, you’d like your QBs to throw more touchdown passes than interceptions. Last year, ‘Skins QBs threw 18 touchdowns and 24 INTS. And by our math 18 is less than 24.
In an attempt to remedy that situation Washington traded half the farm to move up and take Griffin with the second overall pick in April’s NFL draft.
And in the style of the NFL these days the ‘Skins are throwing the youngster right in against the wolves. Sometimes, this method works right away, as with the Ravens and Flacco, the Falcons and Ryan, the Bengals with Dalton; sometimes it takes a little time, as with the Lions and Stafford, and the Niners with Smith; and sometimes it blows up, as with the Raiders with Russell and numerous others.
We’ll just have to wait and see with Washington and Griffin.
The Scandalized Saints
On the other side of this matchup New Orleans had an interesting off-season. After going 13-3 and getting to the divisional round of the playoffs last year the Saints became embroiled in a “bounty” scandal, which will cost them some games on the field and their head coach for the entire season.
New Orleans is still a very talented team, but it’s almost certain the suspensions, especially of Coach Payton, will have an effect of this season.
Place Your Bets
Most Week 1 NFL odds boards were listing this game last week with the New Orleans Saints favored by nine points, and the total set at 50. As of Tuesday morning both those numbers had held steady in the early betting.
The Redskins went 2-1 ATS last year when underdogged by a touchdown or more, while New Orleans, almost amazingly, went 8-1 ATS last season when favored by a touchdown or more.
Finally, Washington went 7-8-1 on the ‘over/unders’ last season, as ‘Skins games averaged 41 total points. Will that number go up or down with Griffin at QB?
And New Orleans went 9-7 on the totals last year, as Saints games averaged 55 points, second-most in the league.