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.
Confidence levels among NFC East fan bases
The percentages are kind of ugly:
NFC East fans don’t believe in the direction of their respective franchises.
Only among Blogging the Boys readers do a majority of fans feel that their team is headed in the right direction, and that is a very recent trend that follows a huge victory over the Saints on Thursday night football. A week earlier, the confidence among Dallas fans was just 42%, and it has been as low as 5% this season.
You can see how the confidence levels of Cowboys fans fluctuated early in the season as they alternated home wins and road losses, but steadily trended downwards. With 4 consecutive wins, the Cowboys have climbed to the top of the division, and fan confidence has risen steadily, and is now higher than at any point since the first poll, taken ahead of the Week 1 loss to Carolina.
If the Cowboys get the win against the Eagles on Sunday afternoon, the team’s chances of a division championship, a playoff berth and fan confidence should all skyrocket.
A loss at home to Philly, though, would knot up the division race at 7-6 (the Redskins would have a chance to join that party if they get a win against the Giants at 1:00 on Sunday), and would probably lead to a sharp and sudden drop in hard-won confidence among Dallas fans.
Philly fans entered the season with the unreasonable expectation that they would be able to repeat, not only as division champs, but likely NFC champs and possibly bring home another Lombardi trophy.
The season hasn’t gone very well, and now they are injured, especially on defense, and limping into contention for the division title.
To keep hope alive, the Eagles have to win on Sunday in Dallas.
You can see that the Eagles fans kept the faith early as their team opened 2-3 in the first 5 weeks, but then, as the losses and injuries piled up, the fans lost hope. Back to back wins against a weak Giants team and an injury-depleted Redskins team have pushed the needle north again, but the majority of Philly fans remain skeptical, and need to see a big division win in Dallas this week before they start to believe again.
New York Giants
The Giants fans lost the faith quickly when their team opened the season with back-to-back losses, and the confidence level has stayed in the basement all year long, only showing faint sparks of life in recent weeks, as the Giants have won 3 out of 4 games (Niners, Bucs and Bears) losing only to the Eagles, in a game where the G-men dominated the first half before the coach forgot to call plays for Saquon Barkley in the second half.
This Giants team does not appear to be the shattered, divided squad that 7 of its first 8 games this season. Instead, it seems to be a team that is playing with pride and purpose.
They beat the Bears, who are in first place in the NFC North last week. Of course, the Bears were starting their backup quarterback.
I suspect all Redskins fans are aware that the Giants are coming to FedEx Field on Sunday at 1 pm. And while the division-leading Bears were starting a backup QB against New York, the Redskins will be starting their 3rd string signal caller, just signed to the team on 19 November. A win for the Redskins appears unlikely, as reflected in the very low confidence level of Hogs Haven readers.
Redskins fans had remained surprisingly upbeat through most of the season, though confidence collapsed over the past three weeks as the Redskins have seen, not just their starting quarterback, Alex Smith, but also his backup, Colt McCoy, knocked out of games with broken legs.
The Redskins now turn to Mark Sanchez, who threw his last touchdown pass in 2015.
Prospects seem bleak, and the percentage of Hogs Haven readers who feel confident in the team’s direction is less than a quarter of those surveyed, yet the fans as a group are projecting a 4-point victory against the Giants on Sunday (the same fans projected a loss to the Eagles last week, so this isn’t blind homerism).
By the way, FanPulse didn’t ask the New York fans for a prediction on the outcome of the game. Because the Giants are considered to be eliminated from playoff contention, the readers of Big Blue View were asked, “Should your team draft a QB in the 2019 draft?”
63% said ‘yes’.
Oddly, as I said last week, the FanPulse survey is treating the Eagles as if they are eliminated from playoff contention. It seemed crazy last week, and seems crazier this week. The Eagles are a win away from being tied for the division lead.
Playoff Possibilities (‘so you’re saying there’s a chance?!’)
A win against the Giants would assure the Redskins of no worse than 2nd place in the NFC East, since the Eagles play at Dallas in the late afternoon time slot.
If the Redskins can fulfill the FanPulse voters’ prediction and get the win at home against the Giants, then the division race becomes interesting and the wild card race remains relevant.
In this case, the outcome of the Eagles-Cowboys game would be huge.
If the Eagles win, then — combined with the Redskins win — three teams (Eagles, Cowboys, and Redskins) would all be tied at 7-6, with complex tie breakers in play.
If the Eagles lose, then — with the Redskins having defeated the Giants — the division race would change dramatically:
- Cowboys 8-6
- Redskins 7-6
- Eagles 6-7
- Giants 4-9
With the Jaguars looking as though they’ve thrown in the towel on the season, Washington has a chance of picking up another win there, for their 8th win of the season.
At that point, a win against either Tennessee or Philly in the final two weeks would mark the team’s 9th win, keeping playoff hopes alive.
But that’s a lot of “ifs” strung together.
A loss to the Giants would limit Washington’s ability to accumulate enough wins to qualify for post season, and a division loss would hurt in many tie-breaking possibilities.
The remainder of the season, and any remaining hope for a playoff rely on a win against the Giants. That win looked quite probable a month ago, but now, with two Redskins quarterbacks in the hospital, the possibilities look as slender as a spider web.
These are words very few football fans would want to hear: Our playoff fate rests with Mark Sanchez and his ability to run the offense effectively this Sunday.