Welcome to SB Nation FanPulse — a survey of fans across the NFL, powered by SurveyMonkey. Each week, we send 32 polls to 100+ plugged in fans from each team. Redskins fans, sign up HERE to join FanPulse.
The guys that run the FanPulse survey changed up the pattern this week. Here’s the explanation from the email that delivers the results:
For teams who are out of the playoff hunt, we removed the “how much will you win by” question and replaced it with “Are you rooting for your team to win or to lose for a draft pick?” The results spreadsheet shows what percentage picked them to win. Obviously that means the difference is those rooting for them to lose for a draft pick.
You might be able to imagine my surprise when I looked at the results from Bleeding Green Nation, the fan site of the Eagles, who are this week’s Redskin opponents on Monday Night Football.
The question that the FanPulse survey takers asked the Eagles fans was the one for teams that are ‘out of the playoff hunt’.
Let’s have a quick look at the NFC standings:
With 5 games to play, the Eagles are one game behind the Redskins, Panthers and Seahawks, and a game & a half behind the Vikings in the hunt for a wildcard spot.
When it comes to the fight for the division championship, Philly is, again, a game behind the Redskins and a game and a half behind the Cowboys.
Oddly, perhaps, the Eagles might have an easier time winning the NFC East outright than qualifying for a wildcard spot.
Let’s play “what if” for a moment.
The Eagles play the Redskins on Monday night football this week, then play Dallas in Arlington a week later. What if the Eagles win both of those games?
Well, then, the Eagles and Cowboys would both be 7-6; they would have split the regular season games, and they would be relying on tie-breakers to decide who leads the division with three games left to play. If the Redskins beat the Giants in Week 14, they would also be 7-6, creating a complex 3-way tie.
It’s true that the Eagles would face a formidable Rams team a week later, but that same weekend the Cowboys have to travel to Indy to take on a red-hot Colts team. (The Redskins play the Jaguars that week).
I look at the possibilities, and it says to me that three teams — the Cowboys, Redskins and Eagles — are in for a dogfight for the division championship all the way to Week 17. The Eagles can’t really afford to lose a game to the Redskins or Cowboys, but then, the defending Super Bowl champs have reason to believe that they can play well when they have to,
Their fans agree.
Ninety-seven percent of the Eagles fans surveyed said they’d be rooting for a win. Now, that’s not the same as predicting a win, but when you take into account the fact that that Redskins fans are, as a group, predicting a 1-point loss, then it’s easy to draw the conclusion that someone writing the surveys may have stuck a fork in the Eagles a bit prematurely.
This week, the Eagles are playing at home against a Redskins team that is starting Colt McCoy at quarterback, after having lost Alex Smith to a gruesome injury two weeks ago.
The Redskins offense lost its pro-bowl right guard, Brandon Scherff, who was perhaps the best lineman on the team before his injury, and had to replace the left guard as well. Their all-world left tackle, Trent Williams, is playing with his hand in a cast, having had surgery on his thumb a month ago.
The Redskins will probably be without two of their Week 1 starting wide receivers this week — one of them, Paul Richardson, is on IR and gone for the season.
The Redskins defense, which began the season as a top-5 unit, has given up 501, 491, 404, and 320 yards against the Buccaneers, Falcons, Texans and Cowboys respectively, and Washington lost three out of four games in November.
Add to this the fact that the Redskins have been one of the worst performing teams in prime time games generally, and Monday Night Football in particular, over the past two decades, and it all feels like a recipe for disaster.
Redskins fans are not feeling good. Many are predicting that the team, after sitting at 6-3 after 9 games, will finish with a losing record.
Of course, a win this week against the Eagles in Philly on Monday Night Football would do a huge amount to restore the confidence of Washington fans.
The subsequent three games on the Redskins schedule, against the Giants, Jaguars, and Titans, all look winnable, and the Redskins will face the Eagles at home at FedEx Field to close out the season in Week 17.
Lose this week to the Eagles, and the Redskins would be forced to win the final 4 games of the season to stay relevant.
On the other hand, if the Redskins beat the Eagles in Philly on Monday night, then Washington probably has the friendliest final 4-week schedule in the division.
Redskins fans are aware that the Eagles have been hit hard by injuries as well. They lost RB Jay Ajayi earlier in the season, and have struggled to maintain a running attack. The defensive backfield has been decimated by injury, and they have had to piece together a pass defense with chicken wire and bubble gum for the past several weeks.
The Eagles fans are rooting for a win, and may or may not have more reason than Redskins fans to expect one this week, but the Eagles also have their backs against the wall. A loss this week would give Philadelphia their seventh loss, with the Cowboys, Rams, Texans and Redskins (again) still remaining on the schedule, and 8-8 isn’t normally a path to the postseason.
If the Redskins can go into Lincoln Financial Field on Monday night and come away with the win, it would be huge for the franchise. A win would allow the Redskins to keep pace with the Cowboys, and it set the Redskins up to solidify their control over the division over the final four weeks of the season.
Monday night’s result will fill one fan base with hope for the season, while draining most of the hope and energy from the fans of the losing team, who will subsequently need to win out to keep any playoff hopes alive.
This should be a great Monday Night Matchup!!