Friday, December 02, 2005

Meaningful Redskins Games Post 11/30

Okay, Redskins fans. This is it: This weekend is the beginning of a string of meaningful games in December and January. This is why Dan Snyder and Redskins fans wanted Joe Gibbs back at the helm.

Here is the deal: Yes, they have played one of the toughest schedules in the league. Yes, they have caught some bad breaks with injuries (which team hasn’t). Yes, they caught some very bad breaks from the officials. Yet, despite it all, the Redskins now have two more wins than they did at this time last year.

After eleven games last year, the Skins had only managed wins against Tampa Bay, Chicago, and Detroit. After eleven games last year, they were 3 – 4 in the NFC and 0 – 3 in the NFC East and were on their way to 6 – 6 in the conference and 1 – 5 in the division. Many fans might not remember that when they were 3 – 8 at this time last year, a win in the next week against the Giants meant that they controlled their playoff fate. That’s right; after the Redskins beat the Giants last year in the twelfth game, they controlled their playoff fate at 4 - 8. If they had run the table, they were guaranteed a playoff spot.

This year they are in far, far better shape at 5 – 2 in the conference and 2 – 1 in the division. Of course, this year it will take more than the eight wins that it took last year to make the playoffs, but only one or two more. If the Redskins run the table, they will make the playoffs. So, this is the springboard from which the Redskins will jump into the softest part of their schedule. Things are really not that bleak. And, oh yeah, the calendar changed to December. Joe Gibbs's record in games played after November 30 is 47 wins and 15 losses.

The next two games, St. Louis and Arizona, are very winnable. Of course, I said the same about Tampa and Oakland. The toughest part of both games will be the travel. But the Redskins have played much better football than both of those teams. If they do not win both, they are not a playoff team. Conversely, if they win both, all of the hand-wringing, coach-firing, and player-cutting that were recommended on message boards will be long forgotten. At 7 – 6, those naysayers will be back on the bandwagon. At 7 - 6, they should gain a game on both Dallas and New Jersey, both of which should be 8 - 5 after thirteen games.

Notice that if the Redskins are 7 - 6 and Dallas and New Jersey are 8 - 5 after thirteen games as I expect, the Redskins will once again control their playoff destiny. A sweep of their final three at that point will guarantee the division title because of head-to-head tiebreakers.

Therefore, the most important non-Redskin game this weekend is Dallas at New Jersey at 1pm. Skins fans should root for Dallas in that game to better ensure that outcome. After the Giants this week, Dallas faces a tough Chiefs team fighting for the playoffs next week and has a better chance of losing that game to the Chiefs than the Giants do of losing to Philadelphia in the next week.

I expect Dallas to beat the Giants because of their superior defense and more experienced quarterback. Meaningful games in December and January. Hail to the Redskins.


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