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Dueling Plans: Should Washington Chase NFL Playoffs? Or Draft Position?

A surprise win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has Washington supporters thinking maybe there's a chance, while others still want draft capital for the future

If there's anything more frustrating for a fan base than an underachieving club like the Washington Football Team, it's one that gives them one more thread to cling to before turning their sights on the NFL Draft.

Just like Washington did in Week 10 by defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 29-19. 

Because if Taylor Heinicke can lead his team to a win over Tom Brady's club, why can't he do it against Cam Newton's (Carolina Panthers), or Dak Prescott's (Dallas Cowboys), or anyone else, for that matter? 

Truth be told, Washington has been an underachieving team all year. ... losing games that could have been won, even should have been won. 

Those are in the past now, though, and the focus has to be the future of this 3-6 team, which now finds itself one game out of the final playoff spot in the NFC. 

In fact, if WFT beats the Panthers in Week 11, there only needs to really be one or two upsets in the NFC this weekend for them to find themselves on the line separating playoff teams from non-playoff teams.

Obviously then, the fan base should be focused on ...

THE DRAFT

At 3-6, the Washington Football Team is currently tied in record with the New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, and Chicago Bears. 

All of the tiebreakers which go into figuring out draft order currently have WFT holding the ninth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. That's the good news for draft-focused fans of the franchise. 

Bad news is, four of the eight picks before Washington's belong to NFC East rivals as the Philadelphia Eagles currently hold picks No. 5 and 6, and the New York Giants have picks No. 7 and 8. 

As no team likes trading within the division, any sort of move up for Washington in this scenario would have to be at least to pick No. 4, which belongs to the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

More good news in the latest Sports Illustrated mock draft comes in the form of no quarterbacks being picked in the eight spots before Washington comes on the clock.

In the mock, SI's Jordan Pun has WFT taking Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral.

"While Washington could very well look to bolster their extremely disappointing defense," Pun writes,"they decide to take the top quarterback now and hopefully stop worrying about the position for over a decade. Corral exudes competitive toughness as a runner, thrower and leader - he's the type of guy who commands a locker room and operates the scheme to near perfection."

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Fans wanting Corral to lead their team into the next decade or more of football will like this projection, and know Washington needs to get ahead of the Giants at a minimum, if this is actually going to happen. 

Or ...

THE PLAYOFFS

Believe it or not, it's actually a possibility this team can make the postseason. 

It's going to depend on which Washington Football Team shows up against the Carolina Panthers, of course. 

If more of what we saw against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers repeats itself, then it can happen. If we get what came before it, well, then see the above segment for encouragement. 

"One week at a time'' has to be the mantra for WFT right now. And this weekend is all about winning in Carolina. 

If defensive tackle Jonathan Allen and Heinicke can get their teams over the hump in this reunion of head coach Ron Rivera and his former squad - and their new/old quarterback, Cam Newton - then they advance to 4-6 on the season.

Carolina (5-5) currently holds the final playoff spot in the NFC. A loss to Washington wouldn't make them swap spots, because the Panthers would still have one more win, since they haven't hit their bye week yet. 

But it would obviously help. 

Other teams in the hunt include the Minnesota Vikings (+2.5 vs Green Bay Packers), the Atlanta Falcons (+7.5 vs New England Patriots, TNF), the San Francisco 49ers (-6.5 at Jacksonville Jaguars), and the Philadelphia Eagles (-1 vs New Orleans Saints). 

What this means for WFT fans dreaming of postseason play is: you're looking for the Packers and Patriots to pick up games they're predicted to win anyway, and you want upsets from the Jags and Saints. 

Only one of those seems to be too much to ask, but the Jaguars did beat the Buffalo Bills. For what it's worth. 

If all of these things happen, Washington is half a game out of the NFC Playoff picture when they host Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks for Monday Night Football in Week 12.

Hey, nobody said it would be easy.