“I feel as if something is building,” quarterback Robert Griffin III said after Thursday’s 38-31 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
At the season’s low point, when a Week 9 loss at the Carolina Panthers left the Redskins with a discouraging 3-6 record, Washington was projected to have only a 3.6 percent chance to make the playoffs by CoolStandings.com, which uses advanced stats to simulate the NFL schedule and make projections. Washington was given only a 1.8 percent chance to win the division at the time.
After impressively disposing of the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday and the Cowboys on Thursday, the site now gives the Redskins a 28 percent chance to make the playoffs. The number-crunchers at FootballOutsiders.com use their own formula and simulations and now give the Redskins a 23 percent chance to reach the postseason.
The revised projections reflect the full impact of the Redskins’ recent wins. Suddenly, the complexion of the entire season could be poised to change dramatically.
“It’s not a finished product by any means, but we’re on the right track,” Coach Mike Shanahan said in a teleconference Friday afternoon. “We’re going in the right direction.”
The Redskins are in a second-place tie with the Cowboys. The New York Giants lead the NFC East with a 6-4 mark. If the Giants lose Sunday night to the Green Bay Packers, the Redskins would be playing for a share of first place when they host the Giants in a Monday night game on Dec. 3.
“It’s kind of how it goes,” linebacker London Fletcher said Thursday night. “You win a few games in November just to give yourselves a chance. We really just had to win a game against Philly to stay in this thing. To come in here and get a win against the Cowboys is big. And now we just put ourselves in position to make next week’s game against the Giants even more important.”
Nine other NFC teams enter Sunday’s games with a better record than Washington, and CoolStandings.com projects the Redskins to have less than a 3 percent chance to win a wild-card spot. That means to reach the postseason, the Redskins would almost certainly have to overtake the Giants in the final month of the season.
“As I’ve emphasized, I think, from Day One, you have to play your best football the second half of the season,” Shanahan said. “There’s only one team at the end of the season that’s happy. So if you’re not playing your best football, the chances of having a successful year are not very good.”