You would think with a second loss to the Cowboys that pretty much ended the Redskins chances to repeat as NFC East Champions,the experts who determine the weekly NFL Power Rankings would sour on them somewhat, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. In fact, just the opposite is true as the Redskins average a bullish 10th when looking at eight different rankings for week 13.
On the one hand, it’s easy to see why the ranking gods like the Redskins. They have the second best offense in the NFL, led by quarterback Kirk Cousins who is on pace not only to throw for over 5,000 yards (which would allow him to shatter the franchise’s single season passing mark that he set last season) but would also allow him to set a new franchise record for yards passing per game in a 16-game season at 321. The old record of 285 yards per game is currently held by, you guessed it, Cousins. He also set that mark last season. As the Yahoo NFL Power Rankings say, Cousins’ 3,540 yards are second in the league and at some point, we are all just going to have to admit that he’s pretty good. Yahoo has the Redskins as the 8th best team in the league in their Power Rankings.
In addition to the high-powered offense, the schedule is in Washington’s favor as four of their remaining five games are against teams with losing records and the only team they will face with a winning record, the New York Giants, comes to FedEx Field. Taking all of this into consideration, it’s easy to see why the Redskins, while only 6-4-1, are holding an above average position in most power rankings.
In order for them to stay there, however, they will have to find a way to overcome two issues that have plagued them all season, a porous defense and an inability to score touchdowns in the red zone. The Fox Sports Power Rankings, which has the Skins at 11, correctly point out that moving up and down the field and racking up great stats does little for the team in the long-run if they keep settling for three points instead of seven. While that covers their red zone issues, Pro Football Focus’ Power Rankings drive home the negative points about their defense (as if watching them blow a four-point lead against Detroit in the final 1:05 didn’t do it already) as they rank the unit 27th out of 32 teams.
Through all the ups and downs and the mind-numbing tie against the Bengals in London the Redskins still control their playoff destiny. They may not catch the Dallas Cowboys and their two MVP candidates, but they are in the driver’s seat for a Wild Card spot. From the lousy offenses they will face to the play of Cousins and the overall lack of good teams left on the schedule, there are many reasons to think the Redskins will not only keep their 10th place average in the rankings, but rise up even further by locking up their second consecutive trip to the playoffs, something that hasn’t happened in 25 years.