Tim Ireland/AP

Washington has the talent to crack the postseason but it must play smarter late in games to get there. 

October 31, 2016

The reigning division champs are 4–3­–1 heading into their bye and yet they still find themselves in last place in the surprisingly competitive NFC East. But they could easily be 6–2, and with the exception of their Week 1 loss to the Steelers, the fact that they’re not is a direct result of their own mistakes. 

In Washington’s Week 2 loss to the Cowboys, up 23–20, Kirk Cousins threw an interception in the end zone with 10 minutes remaining, and Dallas proceeded to put together a long drive to clinch the game-winning touchdown. Before that, the Redskins failed to capitalize on their good field position off a Cowboys fumble and had to settle for a field goal (another common theme this season). In their loss to the Lions, Cousins (who, despite an awful start, has been quite productive this season) led them to a touchdown with a minute remaining to take the lead, and the defense proceeded to allow Matthew Stafford and the Lions to go 75 yards in 49 seconds to win. Their tie with the Bengals included two missed field goals from Dustin Hopkins—including the game-winning attempt from 34 yards in OT—plus an inability to take advantage of the Bengals’ fumble with a minute left in overtime. 

All three of those games were on the table for the taking, and they left them there. For good chunks of almost all of its games this season, Washington has played like a playoff-caliber team. Will the 'Skins be able to get out of their own way to actually get there? 

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