The Washington Football Team is the best kept secret in the NFL entering the 2021 season, says ESPN's Mike Greenberg, who wouldn't be surprised if Washington winds up in the Super Bowl this year.
"Now, the NFL gets so much attention all year round that it is hard to imagine it could ever have a secret as well kept as the Washington Football Team is headed into this year," Greenberg said in a monologue delivered on ESPN's 'Get Up.'
"Caesars [Sportsbook and Casino] has them at 25-1 to win the NFC," he said. "Even Vegas doesn't see this is coming... and it is. The formula is there and it's proven, recently. They are the 49ers of two years ago."
That 49ers team went 13-3 in 2019 to win the NFC West, and stomped the Vikings and Packers — each by 17 points — in the playoffs en route to the Super Bowl, where they'd come up short against the Chiefs, losing 31-20.
"Start with the QB, who has been far more magic than tragic of late," Greenberg said of Washington's starter, Ryan Fitzpatrick. "These are the numbers: The last three seasons, Ryan Fitzpatrick has a higher completion percentage than Tom Brady; he has a higher touchdown percentage than Dak Prescott; he has a higher QBR than Deshaun Watson. He's been very good and his new team is sneaky loaded."
"It won an admittedly bad division last year with the worst quarterback play in the sport — they were 32nd out of 32 teams," Greenberg continued. "The top receiver is a stud. You barely know him. His name is 25-year-old Terry McLaurin. He has more than 2,000 yards in two seasons playing with Dwayne Haskins, Case Keenum, Alex Smith, Kyle Allen and Colt McCoy. The running back is 23-year-old Antonio Gibson. He had over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns starting just 10 games as a rookie.
"And the defense? It may very well be the best in the entire sport. They had the best pass rush in the league the second half of last season. They sacked Tom Brady three times in a playoff game. He was only sacked three more times total in the three playoff games that followed. And then finally, the coach. He's a winner. Ron Rivera won the division last year while battling cancer and made the playoffs four times in five years in Carolina."
"So again, the formula: good enough quarterback play; dominant defensive line; coach who knows how to win," Greenberg concluded. "That was San Francisco two seasons ago, and that team wound up in the Super Bowl. So if this one does that at the end of this year, just remember: You absolutely should have seen it coming."
For almost the entirety of Dan Snyder's ownership (since 1999) and beyond, an overly optimistic portion of the Washington fan base has existed solely to predict a Super Bowl appearance each fall, something that hasn't aligned with reality since Jan. 1992. It would be true irony if, just as those same fans have finally been beaten into silence, the "sneaky loaded" Washington Football Team shocked the world with a surprise Super Bowl run.
And in the first year that Snyder can do nothing to interfere with football operations, no less.