It’s hard to believe given how dire things looked after the loss to Carolina on November 4th, but with division wins over Philadelphia and Dallas in the last week, the Redskins are still in the running for the playoffs. It will be tough: unlike Pierre Garçon in the above picture from Thursday’s game, they’re the ones doing the chasing. They’ll need some help, but when Robert Griffin III is your quarterback, anything is possible. So here are their two paths to post-Christmas football.
1) Win the division. Here how it stands after Week 12 (division records in parentheses):
New York 7-4 (2-2)
Washington 5-6 (2-1)
Dallas 5-6 (2-2)
Philadelphia 3-8 (1-2)
This option depends on the Redskins beating the Giants on Monday night. With a win, the Redskins will be a game back and hold a temporary tie-break advantage with a better division record. The Redskins will still need to win out and hope for a Giants loss to New Orleans, Atlanta, or Baltimore: a gauntlet that the G-men will need to run perfectly to hold the title.
But if the Redskins come up short Monday night, the loss will put them two games back—plus the head-to-head tiebreak, which is like being three games back—with four to go. Goodbye division title. Next year, perhaps?
This is the easier path, though the Redskins will still need help. Right now, they’re in ninth place—with the top six qualifying for the playoffs—with five games to go, but the three teams ahead of them all lost on Sunday. If you look at the standings right now, you can see that the Redskins are the only wildcard contender with a current winning streak. They’ll still need help but giving that they’ve beaten Tampa Bay, Minnesota, New Orleans, and Dallas, and hold a tie-break over Seattle for now, their chances look good.
Here are how the NFC Seeds look after Week 12 (with win or loss streaks in parentheses):
1) Atlanta 10-1 (W 2)
2) San Francisco 8-2-1 (W 2)
3) Chicago 8-3 (W 1)
4) New York 7-4 (W 1)
5) Green Bay 7-4 (L 1)
6) Seattle 6-5 (L 1)
7) Tampa Bay 6-5 (L 1)
8) Minnesota 6-5 (L 1)
9) Washington 5-6 (W 2)
10) Dallas 5-6 (L 1)
11) New Orleans 5-6 (L 1)
Doubtful to Hopeless
12) St. Louis 4-6-1 (W 1)
13) Detroit 4-7 (L 3)
14) Arizona 4-7 (L 7)
15) Carolina 3-8 (W 1)
16) Philadelphia 3-8 (L 7)
As the Giants proved last year, no one cares what you did in September if you’re winning in January. Right now, only three teams in the NFC have winning streaks: the Falcons, the 49ers, and the Redskins.
Would I rather be one of the top two teams in the conference? Of course, but that’s at least a year or two away. Right now, given the the way they were playing before the bye, the Redskins are in great shape and can win any (and maybe all) of the games they have left.
Just take them one at a time: starting next Monday night.
NOTE: Today is the fifth anniversary of the tragic death of Redskins safety Sean Taylor. Earlier this month, Taylor was posthumously honored as one of the 80 Greatest Redskins as part of the Washington Redskins 80th Anniversary celebration. His father, Pete Taylor, and daughter, Jackie, accepted the honor in his memory:
The Redskins lost a pro-bowler and potential hall-of-famer who might have grown into one of the best safeties ever to play the game, but that little girl lost her dad. As much as we love the game, seeing her up there with her grandpa mourning the loss of a young man who was both father and son reminds us of what matters most.