The Washington Football Team are ranked No. 31 in ESPN's Football Power Index ahead of the 2020 NFL season. With no preseason games this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, Week 1 is the first time we'll see new acquisitions and rookies for every team. Week 1 will also give us the first NFL games since Super Bowl LIV in February.
Here's everything you need to know about Washington heading into the season, from the big question to answer and the toughest stretch on their schedule to a bold prediction and potential breakout fantasy football stars.
The big question: Is quarterback Dwayne Haskins The Guy?
Haskins is light years ahead of where he was at this time a year ago, thanks to the work he has been doing. But losing an offseason of on-field work slowed his growth. He is making solid decisions in practice, though still plagued by overthrows at times. The new staff, led by coach Ron Rivera, will measure his growth not by stats but by his leadership and decision-making; it will tell them if they have their guy -- not only in 2020, but for years to come. -- John Keim
How the pandemic has most affected Washington
With a first-year coach, a young quarterback -- and roster -- and new coordinators, Washington needed an offseason to work together, building chemistry and camaraderie and an understanding of Rivera's program. Instead, they had to wait until late July to gather in person. Coaches were getting to know players and trying to figure out at some spots who fit together and where; in some years those decisions would have been made in the spring. The lack of on-field time together also hindered the effort to improve communication on defense -- a major issue in recent years. -- Keim
Football Power Index projections for Washington
Overall ranking: 31
Offensive ranking: 31
Defensive ranking: 27
Special teams ranking: 5
Total wins: 5.5
NFC East title chances: 2.6%
Chances to make playoffs: 6.6%
Super Bowl chances: 0.1%
2021 draft pick: No. 2
FPI's strength of schedule rank: 15
Toughest stretch: In the first five weeks Washington plays Philadelphia, at Arizona, at Cleveland, Baltimore and the Los Angeles Rams. In terms of opponents, there's a tougher stretch later in the season (at Dallas, at Pittsburgh, at San Francisco, Seattle) but the early one gets the nod because of the added challenge of having a young roster and new coach. They should be playing much better later in the season.
Over or under 5.5 wins? Over. Washington will struggle for the first part of the season, especially on offense as it tries to find a rhythm. But the focus will be on the finish and, with a diverse running game and a solid defense, Washington will have a stronger second half to complete a 6-10 season. -- Keim
Bold prediction for 2020: Chase Young will set the NFL's rookie sack record
That mark belongs to Jevon Kearse, who recorded 14.5 sacks with Tennessee in 1999. Coaches have mentioned players such as Julius Peppers and Denver's Von Miller when discussing the 2020 first-round pick's ability; they had 12 and 11.5 sacks as rookies, respectively. Denver's Bradley Chubb had 12 two years ago. Young enters with more promise. He is gifted, a worker and surrounded by good talent -- inside and on the opposite edge. Because of the pandemic, offensive lines won't have much time working together, which could affect how they handle line stunts. The combination of all those factors will help Young. He doesn't just rely on his burst and length; both are impressive. He also knows how to study and has a plan. It should add up to quite a first season. -- Keim
Breakout fantasy star: Antonio Gibson, RB
Looking to add some juice to an offense badly in need of playmakers, Washington selected the versatile Gibson in the third round of April's draft. Though he had twice as many targets (66) as carries (33) during his time at Memphis, Gibson has a high ceiling thanks to his combination of size (6 feet, 228 pounds), speed (4.39 40-yard dash) and athleticism. The rookie's upside makes him worth a mid-round flier. -- Mike Clay
Super Bowl odds: 150-1 (opened 150-1)
Playoff odds: Yes +750, No -1200
Washington finished with the worst record in the NFC last season, 3-13, and is the longest shot to win the conference championship this season as well. Washington has missed the playoffs in four straight seasons, and in 10 of the past 12, and its Super Bowl drought is even longer than the Cowboys' -- the franchise hasn't made it since 1991. -- ESPN Chalk staff
Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill as of Sept. 1.
Speed reads before Week 1
NFL Nation: 2020 NFL Power Rankings: 1-32 preseason poll