So You're Saying There's A Chance?
There is a path to seven wins for the Washington Football Team that may take the NFC East. But, there are no missteps allowed or 4-12 will follow.
As Washington regroups for its Nov. 1 bye, NFL versions of bracketologists can find a 5-4 finish by beating the bad teams. Washington isn’t necessarily a good team in the making. It’s just finally awakening to not letting a struggling team beat them after crunching Dallas on Sunday.
This always figured to be the feel-good time on the schedule. Washington plays the New York Giants when returning on Nov. 8. You can book that win after blowing it 21-20 on Oct. 18. If Washington doesn’t blast New York in the rematch, then it has no soul and playoff hopes are gone.
Facing Detroit on Nov. 15 is tricky. The Lions can post points behind quarterback Matthew Stafford. The question is can Washington win a shootout without quarterback Kyle Allen getting too amped and throwing interceptions?
The same may go against Cincinnati on Nov. 22. Quarterback Joe Burrow is legit, but the team around him is a disaster. Against Detroit and Cincinnati, Washington’s defensive line must dominate.
Then there’s Thanksgiving in Dallas, which has often ruined dinners around Washington since Clint Longley’s miracle throw in 1974. Not this time as the Cowboys have no magic dust left.
Figure Washington goes 3-1 in this stretch, the loss probably coming in Detroit, for a 5-6 mark. Just when you think maybe Washington can make a move, it plays at Pittsburgh and San Francisco before hosting Seattle. Translation: L-L-L.
It’s down to the last two games. Coach Ron Rivera faces his old Carolina Panthers. He knows them. They know him. It’s a tossup and probably a must-win for both. Let’s just say karma smiles on Rivera as a reward for the hardest year of his life.
Never, ever did anyone figure Washington at Philadelphia on Jan. 3 could be for the NFC East title. Washington slapped around the Eagles in the season-opener, but that was a million years ago by football standards. Yet, a win might mean the postseason at 7-9.
The key to all this – the defensive line. They’ve played well the last two games against bad teams. Can they do it against good teams?
The path is narrow and any unexpected losses completely ends this fantasy. But in a year when the world was turned upside down, stranger things have happened than a bad Washington team making the postseason. And then, who knows?
Rick Snider is an award-winning sports writer who has covered Washington sports since 1978. He first wrote about the Washington football team in 1983 before becoming a beat writer in 1993. Snider currently writes for several national and international publications and is a Washington tour guide. Follow Rick on Twitter at @Snide_Remarks