This upcoming weekend signals the end of the NFL's regular season, and most of the playoff spots are filled. But for the first time in six years, Washington Redskins fans still have something to look forward to. With two playoff spots still remaining in the NFC (and one in the AFC), about the only thing that can stop the Redskins is the Redskins. The scenarios are simple. If the Redskins win, they are in the playoffs. If the Cowboys lose, the Redskins are in the playoffs. Even with a Dallas win or tie, a Redskins win guarantees a spot, but a loss would eliminate the Redskins, stifling a huge comeback from a 5-6 record. The only other possibility requires a tie by both the Redskins and the Cowboys, but ties are rare enough (particularly for two specific games) that that possibility can essentially be discounted.
Interestingly enough, even the Redskins, with their two huge victories over Dallas, may not be enough to keep Dallas out. Should Dallas and Washington win, a Carolina loss will allow the Cowboys a chance in the playoffs.
Even the NFC East is still up for grabs. The Cowboys cannot win the division, due to lost tie-breakers to the Giants and Redskins, but the Redskins can take it with a Giants loss and a Redskins win. Any other scenario, and the Giants will be the NFC East Champions.
So what do each of these teams have on their plates? Dallas takes on a bad St. Louis team, and the Giants take on a weak, but dangerous, Oakland team. In other words, the Redskins, who will face Philadelphia (a team with nothing to lose, making them very dangerous), very much control their own destiny, and need to win if they wish to make the playoffs and possibly win the division title.
Will Super Bowl XL be the destination for any of these teams? Probably not, so it would not be a crime to look ahead. As proven by the number of competitors for three playoff spots, the NFC East will remain a tough division. The Redskins will need to do a few things.
1) The easy things: Keep Joe Gibbs, Clinton Portis, and Santana Moss. Gibbs has proven that he still has it in the new NFL, Portis continues to be a workhorse for a good offense, and Moss has been a huge playmaker, turning many games around. These guys will define the offense next season.
2) The tough thing: Don't led Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams get away. He has greatly defined this defense, which has put up some dominating performances in recent weeks against St. Louis and Dallas, among others.
3) The essential thing: Find a QB. Brunell has been great, but he is not getting any younger, and may not be able to do the same great things next season. Regardless of what Madisonian
says, going with Patrick Ramsey is a terrible idea; he has been given many chances and failed everytime. Ramsey should look for a new team. Campbell was good in college, but entirely unproven in the pros, having never taken a snap. Why not look at reuniting Matt Schaub of the Atlanta Falcons with his University of Virginia Offensive Coordinator, currently taking those responsibilities with the Redskins? Schaub is very professional and would be a great leader for this Redskins team.
Big things are in the future for the Washington Redskins, but only if they keep their attitudes, and win tallies, up.