The Washington football team’s four-game winning streak ended last Sunday at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys, but they still hold onto their wild card spot. A loss to Dallas isn’t the end of the season for Washington. There’s no reason to panic just yet, as Washington has four more games to go – including a rematch with the Cowboys.
The 2021 season has been a roller coaster ride for the football team. This team lost their starting quarterback before the end of Game 1 of the season, entered their week off with a 2-6 record and lost star passer Chase Young to a torn ACL. However, Washington is 4-1 in its last five games and could advance to the playoffs for the second year in a row. Taylor Heinicke has been magical at times this season, but can he stay healthy and will WFT make the playoffs?
Let’s take a closer look at Washington’s playoff prospects by looking at his current positioning, remaining games and a few things he will need to improve on in the coming weeks.
Current position in the playoffs
Washington (6-7) currently holds the No. 7 seed in the NFC. It’s the last wild card spot behind the Los Angeles Rams 9-4 and San Francisco 49ers 7-6. The Cowboys are seeded No. 4 as division chiefs with a 9-4 record.
The teams behind Washington in the playoff race are the 6-7 Minnesota Vikings, the 6-7 rivals the Philadelphia Eagles, 6-7 Atlanta Falcons and 6-7 New Orleans Saints. I’m not too scared of the Falcons and Saints at this point in the season, but Washington certainly needs to keep an eye out for the Eagles and Vikings behind them. Overall, Washington isn’t in a bad spot right now as all they need to do is keep winning. The remaining schedule is quite important.
Here’s a look at Washington’s remaining schedule:
- Week 15: @ Eagles
- Week 16: @ Cowboys
- Week 17: against the Eagles
- Week 18: @ Giants
Washington is the first team to play five divisional games to end the season since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1995. It’s also unfortunate that three of the last four games are in Landover, Md. The rematch with Dallas will be important, but let’s focus on Philly for a second. Following the loss to the Cowboys, Washington fans are likely considering a season sweep with Philadelphia. The Eagles have the best rushing offense in the NFL, averaging 160 rushing yards per game. Interestingly enough, Washington has the 5th rushing defense in the NFL, allowing it to average 93.6 rushing yards per game. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 45 yards on 12 carries last Sunday – an average of just 3.8 per carry. This three week “streak” with the Eagles should be fun.
Areas for improvement
- Passing game: Washington’s passing game last season resembled Terry McLaurin’s against the world. Logan Thomas was sprinkled here and there, but when it came to receivers it was only McLaurin. It appears Washington solved this problem by signing Curtis Samuel and Adam Humphries in free agency and drafting Dyami Brown, but the three didn’t have a noticeable impact on the offense. Specifically, Washington needs to get some serious production from Samuel over that home stretch – especially with Thomas finished for the year. He has only played five games this season due to injury, but should be ready to move forward. Cam Sims made some solid plays last Sunday, catching three passes for 69 yards and a touchdown. Washington needs more of this.
- Score: Washington hasn’t scored more than 20 points in three games. Heinicke’s offense should have scored a lot more against the Seattle Seahawks and Las Vegas Raiders, but the defense was able to help the offense. Washington is averaging just 20.5 points per game, which ranks it 23rd in the league. Playoff teams score more than that.
- Continued Defensive Success: It’s more something that I find necessary rather than an area to improve. It is also something that has been hurt with all cases of COVID-19. During their four-game winning streak, the defense kept their opponents 21 points or less. During that time, they were second in rushing yards allowed per game, fourth in first tries allowed per game and sixth in third down conversion percentage. The passers, linebackers and cornerbacks are all playing better than they were at the start of the season, and that has to be something that continues if Washington is to secure a playoff berth.
According to Caesars Sportsbook, Washington is +280 on “yes” to qualify for the playoffs while “no” is at -360. It seems like a pretty decent bet to make with more money if you’re high up on this team. At first I thought Washington could split the season with Dallas. After Sunday, I’m not that high on this possibility. At first glance, Washington has also split the seasonal series with Philly. That I still think happens. I also still have Washington beating the Giants in the regular season finale.
In our case, Washington is 9-8 if he can steal one from Dallas on the road, and 8-9 if he can’t. Looking at the other teams Washington competes with in the NFC, Philly in my mind goes 8-9 (maybe 9-8 with the Cowboys off duty in week 18?), Minnesota goes 8-9 and San Francisco goes 9-8 to the very worst. If Washington finishes 9-8, I think it will enter the playoffs. There is no guarantee with this record, however. Maybe an Eagles sweep is possible. Either way, the playoff image with these four teams is going to be blurred until the official end of the regular season.