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Dec. 22, 2004

Redskins in the playoff hunt

by Pratik Bhandari, Page Editor
So…at 5-9 the Redskins are out of the playoffs, right? They've got no chance, right? I mean there's no way a conference could be bad enough that a 5-9 team could make the playoffs, right?

Fortunately, no.

At 5-9 in the NFC, where the final playoff picture is still anyone's guess after each team has played fourteen games, there is still a chance, albeit slim, that the floundering 'Skins could sneak in.

Redskins fans around Washington are hoping, nay, praying for three teams to lose and for the Redskins to win out. The Redskins must beat Dallas in Dallas and then beat the Vikings at home. Beating Dallas seems like a very distinct possibility, but beating the Vikings will take considerably more effort. That game will be a matchup of strengths as the Vikings vaunted offense will take on the Redskins miserly defense.

But even if the 'Skins do win out, they still need some help to get into the "promised land." The St. Louis Rams, the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers must all lose at least one game.

The Rams, playing without injured quarterback Marc Bulger, have a real possibility of going 0-2 over the last two weeks of the season as they play Philadelphia and the New York Jets.

The Saints, easily the most mercurial team in the league, will have to play Atlanta and Carolina over the final two games and they too could go 0-2.
So, things are looking good for the Redskins…but wait, the Panthers.

The Panthers. This is where Redskins fans pause to curse and pray at the same time. The resurgent Panthers had won five in a row, at least until the Falcons beat them last week, and their schedule isn't that difficult. They have to play the Buccaneers, who they already beat four weeks ago, and then the Saints, who could be ridiculously good or horridly bad that particular day.

My take on the whole situation for 'Skins fans is to not get your hopes up too much. There have been far too many instances where the team has been tantalizingly close to actually being a good team only to collapse when they need to play their best. Sometimes, the opposite happens. As in the Redskins doing horrendously bad in the beginning of the season and then going on a tear when it doesn't matter anymore.

And the other peculiar thing about this season is the weakness of the NFC overall. The conference standings, as of December 22, 2004 were as follows: Philadelphia, Atlanta, Green Bay, Seattle, Minnesota, Carolina, St. Louis, New Orleans, New York Giants, Washington, Chicago, Tampa Bay, Arizona, Dallas, Detroit and San Francisco. After you get past the top two or three teams, like Philadelphia (who are in huge trouble after losing T.O. until the Super Bowl), Green Bay and Seattle, you could plug in just about any other team and it would still be the same. The only team that can be totally counted out of a wild card spot is San Francisco at 2-11. This could be the first time that an NFL team with a 7-9 record could make the playoffs and that is the true barometer of just how bad the NFC is this year.

All Redskins fans can do is pray to, and for, the Saints.

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  • Skins Fan on December 23, 2004 at 9:45 AM
    A good article but it lacks a little insight. Though few would argue that the hopes are high and the possibilities slim, with three key victories this week as noted, plus a Skins win in big D and a Vikings home stand against Green Bay the odds are actually very good that the Skins win against Minnesota at home. With a Vikings' victory this week they clinch their division with no apparent improvement in playoff position with a win in week 17. Thus it might just happen that they choose to rest key starters like Moss who still has a nagging hamstring.
  • reppin gtown! on December 23, 2004 at 11:56 AM
  • Pratik Bhandari on December 24, 2004 at 10:13 AM
    Skins Fan is correct, but the biggest problem for the 'Skins is still Carolina. With games against Tampa Bay and New Orleans, they are a virtual lock to go 2-0, especially with the way they have played recently, and if they do go 2-0, you can kiss the Redskins slim playoff hopes goodbye. Also, even with Moss in the lineup, I think that if the Redskins get back Shawn Springs before the game, as is expected, the defense can limit the Vikings to a very low output. Frankly, Springs has had a great seson. He's always been a pretty good player but a long list of injuries always kept him out of games. This year, he's only missed the one game against the 49ers and he , along with Fred Smoot, have been the real strengths of the defense. Without the two corners that he has, Williams would not be ablee to blitz as often as he does, some 55% of the time. Anyway, let's just hope we don't see another late season collapse by the Redskins...
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