Redskins vs. Cowboys for the NFC East title: Did you imagine this in your wildest dreams?

The Redskins play the Cowboys in Week 17 with the NFC East title on the line. At FedEx Field.

Let that sink in for a second.

A Redskins fan, at least one who appreciates suspense, couldn’t ask for much more. The team, having won six straight, is hot at the right time, and mostly healthy going into the showdown. And, to boot, there are even scenarios (play around with ESPN’s playoff machine to generate your own) in which the Redskins could lose this clash and still get into the postseason as the wild card and No. 6 seed. (Mark Maske has a post coming on that later this morning).

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Did you imagine this in your wildest dreams?

Wait, don’t answer. The wonders of modern technology allow us to refer back to said dreams. At the beginning of the season, Opening Kick asked How many wins you foresaw. When the team hit 3-6, we started one morning by relaying the possibility that the Redskins could win the division without winning out.

Nobody really saw the transformation to 9-6 coming — at 3-6, RGIII said “I just don’t feel that our record is what we are,” but really what else is a quarterback and leader going to say? Since that’s the case, digging these up isn’t for gloating or embarrassing anyone. It’s more an illustration of the change that’s occurred, a reminder that nothing is determined until they actually play the games, and a demonstration of the difference those six wins have made in terms of perception. Fully 40 percent of 1,810 votes cast in Friday’s Opening Kick thought the Redskins would win and the Giants and Cowboys would lose Sunday. And you all were right.

But back on Sept. 4, you were, uh, less right. Click this to see for yourself, but here are a few season outlooks worth highlighting:

ThePartiesAreTheProblem:

“The Skins tend to start out fairly well, then fade as other teams up their game in the second half of the season. So, I say 5-11.”

Pyrotech:

“I expect 7 – 9.
8 – 8 would be great.
9 – 7 would have me peeing myself.
10 – 6 would have me searching the skies for alien spacecraft.”

BC_CoffeeDawg, with a reply from CBeatley1:

“Ok, I’m officially predicting 8-8. Anything better than that and I’ll be happy.”

 

“hahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
…catching breath…
hahahahahahahahahahaha”

Whelms1

“So much “if pigs had wings….” Well, they don’t, and this team is not going to fly. So, I see them at the very best hitting 7-9 … This team doesn’t have the same drive and spunk you see the Nationals play with. This team seems to have a sense of entitlement – granted, unearned and unjustified.”

Alex35332:

“likely loss: NO, ATL, NYG, Pit, Bal,  
likely wins: StL, TB, Min, Cle 
50/50: Cin, Car, Phi, Phi, Dal, Dal, NYG 
 
So somewhere between 4-12 and 11-5.”

Unsung Zero:

“I’ve still got the skins somewhere between 7-9 and 9-7. There will be two upsets (one against either NO, Bal. or Pit) and one or two losses to a team we should have beat (gonna say either the Rams or the Bucs)”

One fan, jjd72079, actually called 10-6 with a season-ending win over the Cowboys. But he also had a 5-1 start, a 6-3 mark at the bye and RGIII dominating a late-season game against the Browns. “Courtney44″ also predicted 10-6, but thought Brandon Banks would play a role in getting there. Easy_bake had 10-6 as well.

Looked like 7-9 was the most common prediction, although there was a wide range. Given that they’re already two wins past that, one could be pleased with this season even if it gets no better. But now that the Redskins are close enough to taste it, I doubt 9-7 and no playoffs would please anyone.

Do remember, however, that a month and a half ago, suggesting the Redskins could be in the playoffs was cause for ridicule. Here’s a sampling of how we felt on Nov. 14, when Opening Kick asked “Could the Redskins really win the NFC East?“:

RunninUtesDB:

“I was wondering if the marijuana dispensary in DC had opened yet. This article answered my question. If you’re writing this article after watching this defense, you’re high.”

Curmudgeon10:

“My dog will discover sweet West Texas crude in my backyard before the Redskins are crowned NFC East Champions this year (and perhaps next year too).”

BrooklynSkins:

“actually kind of nostalgic this time of year reading about the sliver of a mathematical chance the skins make the playoffs, nothing wrong with this article. 
 
we had a shot at the playoffs for exactly 13 seconds this year between RG-to-santana and cruz getting behind our safeties. ain’t going to happen.”

DCEaglesFan7:

“I highly doubt that this will happen. We will show promise towards the end of the season and probably finish on a high note, which will spur optimism for next year. However the Skins are notorious for being a target for teams that are down, and the Eagles will come at us at the right moment. If you thought the Panthers were desperate, wait till we play the Eagles.”

TheSmartestLadyHere:

“Please, spare us. That puff writer Arrington suggested the team could still win it, but that’s commensurate with the rubbish he spews out. It’s obvious Dan $nyder is behind all this. Shameful for WaPo to be so overt about it.”

rpenman65:

“Dude what makes you think the Redskins will win anymore games this season? Our DEFENSE STINKS and couldn’t stop a PEE WEE LEAGUE TEAM!”

There are so many more great replies that I did not include. My how times change.

You’ve got all week to analyze how the Redskins and Cowboys match up. Enjoy the fact that it’s happening. There was a time not long ago it wasn’t in most Redskins’ fans wildest dreams.

Looking ahead, I’d like for Insider readers to help close out the season by nominating one fellow poster to give the pre-Dallas pep talk via Friday’s Opening Kick, the last of the regular season. Nominate publicly in the comments or privately via e-mail, at mcmillank@washpost.com.

More on the Redskins’ victory Sunday:

Boswell: Redskins-Cowboys, winner take all

Takeaway: Finishing what RGIII started

Redskins’ playoff chances are still up in the air

Bad knee, good result for Griffin

Photos: Scenes from Lincoln Financial Field

Also on The Insider

Redskins-Cowboys Week 17 game is moved to prime time on NBC