Any team that wins its division is always expected to duplicate that same success the following year. For the Washington Football Team, the record last season won't be enough to claim the NFC East in 2021.
On paper, Washington did get better this offseason. The hope is with the momentum from last year's finish and the additions of names like Ryan Fitzpatrick and Curtis Samuel should catapult Ron Rivera's team to new heights come January of 2022.
Of course, the schedule last season boded well in WFT's favor. One could argue it's become worse in 2021.
Washington will close out the season with five in-division games. They won't face a NFC East rival following Week 2 on a shortened prep time due to Thursday Night Football. Of all the divisions, this will be the one decided come Week 18 on who is headed to the postseason....yet again.
Here's an early outlook at Washington's 2021 season with predictions:
Week 1: Sept. 12 vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Justin Herbert is the stronger of the two quarterbacks, but this is still a rookie head coach any new offensive line trying to mesh well. If this game was played in Week 8, maybe it's a different outcome. For now, WFT should be in control to start the season off right.
Score: WFT 27, Chargers 20 (1-0)
Week 2: Sept. 16 vs. New York Giants, 8:20 p.m. (NFL Network)
Which offense is more improved? A short week won't answer that question, but the two NFC East clubs did work to add depth at wide receiver for its quarterback. Based on defense and home field, Washington ends the five-game losing streak before a road trip.
Score: WFT 28, Giants 20 (2-0)
Week 3: Sept. 26 at Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m. (FOX)
One of the league's up-and-coming offenses versus a top-tier defense. Buffalo has some holes on the defensive side, but not enough for Fitzpatrick to torch them. Josh Allen will be too much for Washington at home, ending the perfect season.
Score: Bills 31, WFT 20 (2-1)
READ MORE: WFT Schedule Released: Game-by-Game Look
Week 4: Oct. 3 at Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 p.m. (FOX)
This is the ultimate trap game. Sure, we could say that based off of defense, Washington has the advantage. Will the office be ready to match the same amount of points. This will either be a shootout or low scoring, but WFT survives.
Score: WFT 35, Falcons 31 (3-1)
Week 5: Oct. 10 vs. New Orleans Saints, 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Are the Saints the same team without Drew Brees? Should New Orleans defense play like they did last season, this should be a close matchup. However, it all comes down to Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill. For now, its best to lean with the home team.
Score: WFT 28, Saints 17 (4-1)
Week 6: Oct. 17 vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
This will be the ultimate testament on if WFT's defense is legit. Should they hold Patrick Mahomes out of the end zone and force Kansas City to trust the run game, expect this to be a low-scoring outcome. Still, Kansas City's defense will be ready for WFT's offense.
Score: Chiefs 20, WFT 10 (4-2)
Week 7: Oct. 24 at Green Bay Packers, 1:00 p.m. (FOX)
Depending on Aaron Rodgers' situation, this could be an easy win for Washington. The defense will be in midseason mode, but the offense will have to show it's clicking on more than just short passes. For now, Rodgers won't be playing so by the hair, the edge goes to WFT.
Score: WFT 28, Packers 17 (5-2)
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Week 8: Oct. 31 at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)
Denver feels like a quarterback away from being one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL. The problem for Washington is that Vic Fangio and George Paton made sure the defense would be able to bail Drew Lock out of anything. This is one of those times it happens.
Score: Broncos 24, WFT 10 (5-3)
Week 9: Bye Week
Week 10: Nov. 14 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m. (FOX)
The Renaissance revival of Fitzpatrick began in Tampa Bay. With more weapons, Can Taylor Heinicke step in and be the WFT hero 2.0? Tom Brady is still Tom Brady and Tampa is returning all 22 starters. A two-game losing streak is upon the club.
Score: Buccaneers 30, WFT 21 (5-4)
Week 11: Nov. 21 at Carolina Panthers, 1:00 p.m. (FOX)
Rivera returns to the Queen City for the first time since being fired in 2019. If Sam Darnold shows that he can be a quality franchise quarterback, this might be an easy win for Carolina. Too bad WFT's defense will be playing pissed off more than ever for the head coach.
Score: WFT 27, Panthers 20 (6-4)
Week 12: Nov. 29 vs. Seattle Seahawks, 8:15 p.m. (ESPN)
On the flipside for Seattle, this could be their trap game. A cross-country flight and coming off back-to-back games against Green Bay and Arizona might be exhausting for its defense. Washington capitalizes to secure its season win total from 2020.
Score: WFT 28, Seahawks 14 (7-4)
Week 13: Dec. 5 at Las Vegas Raiders, 4:05 p.m. (FOX)
Remember what was just said about Seattle? Same thing happens for WFT. The only difference this time is both sides of Las Vegas' ball has glaring holes that weren't addressed in the draft. Derek Carr will play lights out, but his defense will let him down, giving eight wins for WFT.
Score: WFT 31, Raiders 27 (8-4)
Week 14: Dec. 12 vs. Dallas Cowboys, 1:00 p.m. (FOX)
The Cowboys are probably the one team that could match evenly with WFT. If Dan Quinn truly is the ideal piece to fix the defense, this is likely a game in favor of Dallas. Unfortunately, there's a gut feeling that's saying he will be right guy for the franchise.
Score: Cowboys 27, WFT 13 (8-5)
Week 15: Dec. 18 or 19 at Philadelphia Eagles, TBD
The Eagles should cement themselves as the worst team in the division, but quarterback play this late will be so essential for WFT. This won't be an easy win, but it should be enough to guarantee they will finish above .500 for the year.
Score: WFT 27, Eagles 24 (9-5)
Week 16: Dec. 26 at Dallas Cowboys, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
As said before, Dallas' defense will decide if they are a contender or pretender in 2021. For now, they did enough to show upside and will be playing in front of the home crowd. A clean sweep against WFT is set to happen on primetime.
Score: Cowboys 31, WFT 20 (9-6)
Week 17: Jan. 2 vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 1:00 p.m. (FOX)
Another team, the same story. WFT's defense should be enough to stop Jalen Hurts from doing anything offensively. At that point, the offense just needs to find a way to get into the end zone and they'll have the first double-digit winning season since 2012.
Score: WFT 20, Eagles 0 (10-6)
Week 18: Jan. 9 at New York Giants, 1:00 p.m. (FOX)
By this point in the season, Daniel Jones should have a connection with both Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney. The defense should do enough to stop Fitzpatrick and end the season on a sour note for WFT.
Still, 10 wins might be enough to win the division, but it certainly will be plenty for WFT to make the postseason.
Score: Giants 35, WFT 20 (10-7)
Final Record: 10-7 (1st in NFC East)