The Washington Redskins became the NFL’s surprise playoff team on Saturday when they beat the Philadelphia Eagles to lock up the NFC East.
At 8-7, the Redskins will finish with at least a .500 record and make the postseason for the first time in three years, a fate nobody saw coming.
Washington has had plenty of surprises, starting with the emergence of Kirk Cousins, who has proven a solid, efficient fit in the team’s offence, rewarding head coach Jay Gruden for his gamble.
And while winning a division and a majority of your games (thus far) is an impressive feat, regardless, there’s also an alarming stat about the Redskins that puts a damper on the excitement around their postseason berth.
As noted by ESPN’s Andrew Brandt, the Redskins won their division without beating a team with a winning record. Washington’s eight wins have come against the Rams, Eagles (twice), Buccaneers, Saints, Giants, Bears, and Bills.
Furthermore, Washington has lost badly to teams with winning records. Four of Washington’s seven losses have come against teams with winning records — they lost to the Falcons by six, the Jets by 14, the Patriots by 17, and Panthers by 28. Kirk Cousins hasn’t played well against those top teams, either, throwing a combined four touchdowns with six interceptions in those four losses.
The Redskins can’t be faulted for playing in a weak division or for playing a soft schedule. They also can’t be faulted for winning so many games against below-.500 teams — games they should win. They have had some impressive wins, like a Week 12 win over the Giants in New York, or their Week 16 win over the Eagles to secure a playoff spot.
However, in a top-heavy NFC, Washington will get home-field advantage in a Wild Card matchup, currently slated to play the Vikings. The NFC’s two Wild Card teams, the Vikings and Seahawks, own 10-5 and 9-6 records, respectively.
Washington should be commended for beating early, pessimistic predictions about their season. However, through 15 games, Washington doesn’t just have a largely unimpressive resume, they have an alarming red flag about their chances in the postseason.
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