The Redskins are expected by many to improve this year with the addition of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III and some legitimate weapons at wide receiver. Most think they are in line to take bigger strides in 2013 as Griffin and the other players mature and develop chemistry.
However, it appears that they are a long way from attaining the Holy Grail of the NFL regular season, winning the division and getting home field advantage throughout the playoffs. That is the path the team took to three of its four Super Bowl appearances between 1982 and 1991. So, until they can get that top seed improving is fine but the ultimate goal, the Super Bowl, will remain a pipe dream, right?
Not really. Things have changed considerably since 1991, especially since 2000. Since that season, the top seed has won just one of 12 Super Bowls. That was the 2003 Patriots, who beat Carolina on a last-second Adam Vinatieri field goal.
Other than that, it’s been futility for the top seeds. Since 2000 six of them have experienced the ultimate failure, going one and done. That means that they got the bye, hosted the lowest remaining seed, a team that had to win in the Wild Card round, and lost at home.
You remember what happened to the 15-1 Packers last year at the hands of the 9-7 Giants. The same thing happened to the top seeded 2010 Patriots, 2008 Titans, 2006 Chargers, 2005 Colts, and 2000 Titans.
In the NFC in recent seasons the underdog role is where you want to be. The 2007 Giants won it all as a 10-6 Wild Card team as did the 2010 Packers. Last year’s Giants won their division at 9-7 and ended up champions. In 2008 the Cardinals also got in as 9-7 division champs and had the lead in the Super Bowl in the final minute before losing to Pittsburgh.
In the past five years only the 2009 Saints have taken advantage of owning the top seed in the NFC by winning Super Bowl XLIV.
The point is not that the Redskins should try to improve to where they can grab the last Wild Card and then stop. You want to win as many games as you can to get the right to, say, host a playoff game, something the Redskins haven’t done since 1999.
But any playoff appearance, even one as the very last seed, has possibilities. You don’t have to start January at the top of the heap in order to end up there the first weekend in February.