The Washington Redskins recent success has been reinvigorating as a fan. With big division wins over the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, the Redskins have brought back the initial hope RGIII provided early in the season, and added a playoff conversation to it. Yet just three weeks ago–or two games–head coach, Mike Shanahan all but ruled them out, pairing their 3-6 record with the statistics (which show that only three 3-6 teams have made the playoffs since 1990).
It made sense then. It makes sense now. The Redskins don't have as easy task on their hands as many want to believe. They just won back-to-back games for the first time this season, in late November. They face the Giants this week, followed by Ravens next week, and they will still have two more divisional opponents remaining. Yes, that does leave them room to catapult forward if they win, but it's also a more serious road block than people are willing to acknowledge in the DMV right now.
What the Redskins have done for themselves, is win the right games. They have victories over the Saints, Buccaneers and Vikings; who are all in the hunt for the final wild card spot. That would give the Redskins the tiebreaker against each of those teams, and if they were to finish with the same record as the Giants, they would likely hold the tie breaker there as well (which would include a win this week and at least one other divisional victory). The Redskins would foreseeably end with a better division and/or conference record.
Let's say the Redskins do beat the Giants this week (which I am predicting). That would make them 6-6 and one game behind the Giants for the divisional seed and would also put them in the heart of the wild card mix, where the sixth seed now looks like it will go to a 9-7 team. If that's the case, the Redskins can only afford to lose one game from there on out; or the Giants could take a devastating tumble (which personally, is my favorite scenario).
Take a look at the remaining four games; Baltimore (at home), at Cleveland, at Philly, Dallas (at home). If the Skins were to lose to the strongest remaining opponent, the Ravens, they would have to go on a second three game winning streak to end the season, and that's about as unlikely as the first. Dallas is probably the one team they absolutely cannot afford to lose to other than the Giants'. Let's not forget, they're also 5-6 right now. Luckily, Cleveland and Philly are both struggling, but neither is a guaranteed win. (Maybe the Eagles)
So the Skins must beat the Giants and Cowboys, and then two of their three others opponents, with a premium on the Eagles for divisional/conference reasons. With this in mind, the playoffs are definitely possible. But we do have to pencil in quite a few victories to make it and that's dangerous. After all, the Redskins are still young and haven't proven that they know what it takes to maintain a winning streak.
If the Redskins fall short this year, it's understandable; they have a new team with Griffin at the helm. The beauty of this season is the hope it will bring for years to come. It WILL give this team some December confidence, and a sense of belonging. It WILL give them the character to be perennial contenders, and not just for the playoffs, but for the Super Bowl as well. This season is Robert Griffin III’s foundation. And what a beautiful foundation it is.
There's an old cliché that you have to know how to win, before you win. The Redskins are learning how to win this year. Next year, teams will struggle to keep them from doing so.
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