Over the last couple of days a big theme in the blogosphere was the Redskins’ chances of going from last place to first place in the NFC East. I wrote about it here, playing off this NFL.com article. Others addressed the topic here and here. Along with most, I did not think that their chances of winning the division this year were very good.
The Redskins, however, do not necessarily have to take the division title for the first time since 1999 to have their 2012 season be successful. Although winning the NFC East and getting a home playoff game would be great, the organization and most fans would be very happy with a wild card playoff spot this year.
My friend Rafael on his Cowboys Nation blog looked at teams that did what the Redskins want to do. He found that since 1999 a total of 48 teams have gone from having a losing record in one season to the playoffs the next season. That’s an average of 3.7 per season.
All three of the Redskins’ recent playoff appearances came after losing seasons. Prior to winning the division with a 10-6 mark in 1999 they were a miserable 6-10 in 1998. The followed up their 6-10 record in 2004 with a 10-6 wild card the following season. And in 2007 the Redskins got in with a 9-7 mark after going 6-10 the previous season.
To qualify for one of the two wild card playoff spots, the Redskins would have to finish ahead of at least one of the other three teams in the division. Even with potential star Robert Griffin III at quarterback, it will be a tall order for them to beat out Dallas, Philadelphia, and the Giants, who have very good QB’s of their own.
But it would be a mistake to say that it can’t be done. As Rafael says in the conclusion to his article:
So take a good yard look at those seemingly down-trodden teams. The 4-12ers, the 6-10ers, the 7-9ers. Think they're all doomed to another year of disappointment? Think again. Some of them have us "experts" right where they want us.
In today's NFL no team should be counted out in June. Not one.