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Impact of QB decisions in D.C., Buffalo

In starting dual threat QB Tyrod Taylor, Bills coach Rex Ryan made a shrewd move that boosted his team's playoff chances above 63 percent.
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The SportsLine Projection Model already was high on the Bills, projecting Buffalo for a second-place finish and giving Rex Ryan's bunch a 57.2 percent chance of making the playoffs for the first time this millenium.

SportsLine's Redskins Projection
Season forecast
  Wins Loss Win% Div Playoff
w/ Robert Griffin III 5.1 10.9 31.9% 1.0% 2.5%
w/ Kirk Cousins 5.5 10.5 34.4% 1.5% 4.3%
Impact 0.4 -0.4 2.5% 0.5% 1.8%

But the computer absolutely loved Ryan's decision Monday to name Tyrod Taylor his starting quarterback. The Bills' playoff chances immediately jumped 6 percent and the team is now projected for 9.5 wins -- a full game better than their Vegas win total.

As CBS Sports NFL writer Will Brinson noted on The Opening Line podcast, Taylor's rushing ability separates him from Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel and makes running back LeSean McCoy that much harder to defend. Taylor has run for 108 yards and a touchdown on 11 preseason carries while completing 77.4 percent of his throws.

SportsLine's Bills Projection
Season forecast
  Wins Loss Win% Div Playoff
w/ Matt Cassel 9.3 6.7 58.1% 32.6% 57.2%
w/ Tyrod Taylor 9.5 6.5 59.4% 37.0% 63.2%
Impact 0.2 -0.2 1.3% 4.4% 6.0%

While starting Taylor seems risky -- he has not started a game since the 2011 Orange Bowl -- it's not like the Bills had more attractive options. Buffalo's elite defense was dragged down by poor quarterback play last year and the offseason addition of Matt Cassel did not inspire anyone.

Besides, what do you have to lose when your last playoff year was 1999?

The SportsLine Projection Model also liked Washington's decision to start Kirk Cousins over Robert Griffin III.

The move increased the Redskins' projected win total from 5.1 to 5.5 and boosted their meager playoff shot from 2.5 percent to 4.3 percent.

In our simulations, Cousins proved to be more prolific than Griffin, producing more yards per completion and a higher touchdown rate, albeit with a higher interception rate. "The benefits of more big plays outweigh the cost of more INTs," according to SportsLine principal engineer Stephen Oh.

Larry Hartstein