Expert’s Redskins Outlook: Six Win Season in 2010

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 27: Chris Wilson #95 of the Washington Redskins is introduced before the game against the Dallas Cowboys at FedExField on December 27, 2009 in Landover, Maryland. The Cowboys defeated the Redskins 17-0. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

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The Washington Redskins are on their way to a six win season, says statistician and math wizard Paul Bessire.

Says me: there are lies, damned lies and statistics. When you say Redskins and six wins in the same sentence, I say damned statistics. You can’t call my child ugly even when there are numbers to back it up.

Bessire is one of those quants who project future outcomes from past performance. Rather than running the numbers for Wall Street, Bessire projects sports. And he’s simulated the 2010 NFL season 50,000 times to project the most probable outcome for the Skins.

Bessire’s twist is that his projections aren’t just based on tendencies based on historic data. He maps “every possible interaction between players (playing or not playing/injured), coaches, officials, fans (homefield advantage), weather and more.” His Predictalator Machine looks for match-ups between teams…and the influence of the most important player. The most important player isn’t the team’s biggest star in Bessire’s model. It’s the guy whose performance could rise above or fall below expectations to have a meaningful impact on the team.

Rookie tackle Trent Williams is the Redskins’ most important player, says Bessire.

OK, I get it. Expectation based on objective reality and not on emotion. But you take every possible factor and run 50,000 simulations and the Redskins only come out two games better than last year? Aren’t we under-weighing Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb here?

I challenged Bessire on that and he was kind enough to answer.

On Mike Shanahan:

“According to the Predictalator, the Redskins may win a couple more games on average than in 2009, but Washington is still not an above .500 team.

“The improvement actually has more to do with the upgrade in the coaching staff than in additional talent on the roster. Mike Shanahan’s history is thoroughly reviewed to gauge his tendencies in just about every situation as well as how much better (or worse) his players play than we would expect otherwise. Shanahan means about 1.2 additional wins to the Redskins relative to Jim Zorn. That is a very significant jump for a coaching staff in one season.”

On Donovan McNabb:

“Donovan McNabb, on the other hand, only adds about 0.4 wins to the Redskins over Jason Campbell. McNabb is a 33-year-old quarterback who has hit a plateau and will likely start regressing soon. Jason Campbell is a 28-year-old quarterback who is still improving and was about as efficient as McNabb over the last two seasons, despite having inferior weapons in the passing game. McNabb now inherits those inferior weapons. It’s improvement at the position, but not a big improvement. On the season, McNabb throws for 3317 yards, 23 TDs and 12 INTs. In Oakland, Campbell throws for 3314 yards, 20 TDs and 12 INTs. Kevin Kolb, McNabb’s replacement, throws for 4059 yards, 23 TDs and 17 INTs in Philadelphia.”

Redskins Hog Heaven has often criticized the Redskins front office for hyping a guy to come in and “win now” rather than building a roster from the bottom up to be a perennial winner. Now someone uses damned statistics to confirm the thought.

I hate that.

Washington Redskins game by game projection:

Washington Redskins Schedule

Week

Opponent

Redskins Score

Opponent Score

Win %

1

Cowboys

20.7

26.1

35.8

2

Texans

23.6

24.2

48.3

3

@ Rams

26.5

18.0

73.3

4

@ Eagles

15.3

25.2

27.0

5

Packers

17.6

24.9

29.4

6

Colts

18.3

25.5

30.0

7

@ Bears

18.8

24.1

37.0

8

@ Lions

21.7

19.4

56.5

9

Bye

10

Eagles

18.3

21.8

40.3

11

@ Titans

17.1

25.1

31.1

12

Vikings

22.5

24.2

45.6

13

@ Giants

17.4

25.7

31.0

14

Buccaneers

23.2

14.1

72.8

15

@ Cowboys

17.5

29.5

25.1

16

@ Jaguars

21.5

23.0

46.4

17

Giants

20.6

22.0

46.3

Points/Game

Point/Game

Total Wins

20.0

23.3

6.8

Source: http://www.predictionmachine.com/

For PredictionMachine’s NFL Division breakdown, look here.

Anthony Brown

About Anthony Brown

Lifelong Redskins fan and blogger about football and life since 2004. Joined MVN's Hog Heaven blog in 2005 and then moved Redskins Hog Heaven to Bolguin Network. Believes that the course of a season is pre-ordained by management decisions made during the offseason. Can occasionally be found on the This Given Sunday blog and he does guest posts.

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