As badly as the Redskins have played at times this year, they are two plays away from being in the lead in the NFC East.
Currently, the Cowboys are on top of the division at 7-4. After losing to the Saints on Monday night, the Giants are alone in second at 6-6. The Eagles and Redskins bring up the rear at 4-7.
But let’s play the “what if” game for a minute. Suppose the Redskins had been able to stop Tony Romo and the Cowboys on third and 21 last September and the Redskins had come out of the Jerry Dome with a win. And let’s say that Graham Gano’s overtime field goal against Dallas 10 days ago had gone through the uprights.
Had both of these plausible scenarios unfolded and the Redskins had won those two games, they would be 6-5 and the Cowboys would be 5-6. That would have the Redskins tied with New York atop the division with a win over the Giants in their pockets.
The point here is not to say that the Redskins are where they need to be. Being a couple of plays away from leading what is turning out to be a very mediocre division is a far cry from being a threat to go deep into the playoffs. They need more talent, notably at quarterback, and they need time for that talent to gel.
And, certainly, the Cowboys, Giants, and, especially, the Eagles could all play this game and have themselves in the division lead. All three teams have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on multiple occasions this year and they could be drawing up scenarios where they could be competing for a playoff bye.
But this does demonstrate that the difference between being contenders for a playoff spot and contenders for a top 10 draft pick can be razor thin. Wholesale changes are not always needed; incremental improvements can make a big difference in the standings as can giving some of your younger players a chance to mature.