WASHINGTON — With the first three weeks of the NFL season now in the books, we’re beginning to get a glimpse of the general power structure of the league.
For example, nobody knew quite how the New England Patriots would perform without Tom Brady, but they’ve been nothing short of dominant in his absence and figure to be nearly unstoppable when the future Hall of Famer returns.
Most predicted the Arizona Cardinals would be among the NFC’s top teams, but they’re sitting at a disappointing 1-2, right next to the 1-2 Carolina Panthers.
Many predicted the NFC East would come down to the New York Giants and the Redskins, but rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has led the Philadelphia Eagles to a 3-0 record and the early division lead.
So here we are: The Redskins are 1-2, with their only win coming against a formidable Giants team, and injuries piling up left and right. Most recently, they lost starting center Kory Lichtensteiger and safety DeAngelo Hall for the season, and the status of No. 2 cornerback Bashaud Breeland is so far undetermined.
With those injuries and the record in mind, it probably makes sense that Washington ranks around the bottom third of the league in just about every Power Ranking heading into Week 4.
CBS Sports ranks the Redskins 22nd, claiming the win against the Giants “might have saved their season.”
NFL.com also ranked them 22nd, and it also calls the Week 3 win a season saver, though it doesn’t give the Redskins all that much credit for the win.
ESPN is relatively high on Washington, ranking it 20th. However, part of ESPN’s ranking is the assumption that Washington beats the Cleveland Browns in Week 4 to improve to 2-2.
SB Nation is the kindest to Washington, placing it way up at No. 17, just one spot behind the Dallas Cowboys.
SI ranks the Redskins 21st, saying virtually the same thing ESPN did in terms of 1-2 essentially meaning 2-2 and going as far as calling the a game against the Browns “basically the same thing” as a bye week.
Finally, USA TODAY is the least sold on Washington, putting it 23rd on its list.
Elsewhere, ESPN’s Football Power Index is far less kind to the Redskins than any of the traditional power rankings. Using a variety of factors, including injuries and strength of opponent, the FPI system rates each team on its strength and dishes out postseason likelihood.
The Redskins come in 27th place, just one spot higher than the week prior despite the win against New York, with an FPI rating of minus-3.7. What’s more, they’re given just a 5 percent chance to make the playoffs, and just a 1.6 percent chance to win the NFC East.
If they do dispatch the Browns in Week 4, the Redskins should rise slightly in the various rankings. Another win Week 5 at the Baltimore Ravens would work wonders for their league-wide perception, as Baltimore is a surprising 3-0 to start the year.
But if they fall to the so-far winless Browns, expect their placement to come crashing down to the upper 20s.