For today’s #5OCC, I thought we would discuss our most reasonable expectations for the next three games. As I have said, my goal when I heard the news about Trent WIlliams was to go 2-2 in his absence. I didn’t think that would be possible without the victory over the Vikings, due to the negative momentum that would generate as well as the stiff competition we are on the verge of facing.
As tempted as I am to revise my goal, I will refrain my doing so because it is still both realistic and achievable. My gut tells me that if we beat Green Bay, we could ride that wave through Dallas and Arizona, but going 4-0 without your best player is one of the tallest orders...ever.
As a secondary topic, yesterday somebody asked which game is more important between the Dallas and Green Bay games. My initial response was that the upcoming game is always the most important, but I don’t limit my answers to coachspeak. The Packers sit just behind us in the playoff standings. Of course we are still aiming for a division title, but our path to the postseason is far more likely (statistically) to come via the wild card. If that is true, then we have to keep our thumb on those teams behind us. Handing out a loss to a team we know is capable of putting pressure on us in December for a playoff spot is a big deal. (All of this doesn’t change the fact that the win I most care about is the Dallas game on Thanksgiving.)
The interesting thing about this Trent-less four game stretch is that all four teams we are playing matter in the playoff race. Knocking off Minnesota helped our cause in a couple of ways: it put the Detroit Lions in the driver’s seat of their division, which is good because we don’t hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions, and it becomes a head-to-head win over a team that sits directly behind us in the playoff standings. The same kind of benefits await us at the end of wins over Green Bay and Arizona, if we succeed.
I don’t consider the NFC East lost, but our best chance of making the playoffs right now seems to come from winning the wild card. Interestingly enough, if the Redskins were to remain in the sixth spot and the Cowboys were to remain in the top playoff slot, we would be one playoff win away from playing Dallas in the postseason.
Whether we are able to overcome Dallas in the NFC East standings or not, we all know that the Redskins are capable of winning that game—not an easy task, but these teams looked pretty evenly matched when they played before. I would gladly take the path that led to a playoff game against the Cowboys.