Despite their loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the Redskins remain in the playoff picture. If the season ended today, Washington would be the sixth seed behind Dallas, Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta and the New York Giants. Washington (6-4-1) holds a half-game lead over Tampa Bay and Minnesota (each 6-5) for the final wild-card spot.
Only five weeks remain in the season, but don’t look for the Redskins to start scoreboard watching.
Players said their approach remains the same for the most part at this point. They can’t let themselves wonder who’s coming up behind them to make a push for the final wild-card spot.
“I don’t know when we start looking at [the playoff race], but I don’t pay attention to it until January 2 when they place everybody,” defensive end Ricky Jean Francois said. “I know some people talk about it like, ‘You guys are in sixth place, so you guys are this.’ But I don’t really look at it until the end of the season. Season don’t end today. So, tell me in another five weeks. Don’t tell me what we’re at right now. That’s just like a BCS ranking to me. Let me see if we can beat this team coming up next. I know we got swept by Dallas, so that’s out the [cards] to win a division title. But I know we’ve got to keep putting our best foot forward because the season don’t end this week.”
Of the five games remaining, two carry the greatest importance, wide receiver Pierre Garcon said. Those two are the Dec. 11 game at Philadelphia and Jan. 1 against the Giants, because both are divisional opponents.
“You start paying attention [to the playoff race] a little bit,” Garcon said, “but mainly just to your other three teams in the division, after you’ve played everybody once. That’s when you realize where you’re at, where you need to be, and what you need to do the second time they roll around. You know who you have to beat to win a division or be high up in a division.
“The others,” Garcon added, “Not so much. Trying to keep up with Minnesota, Tampa, Detroit, New Orleans, Atlanta – all that? Just too many to keep up with.”
Over time, players learn that keeping tabs on opponent does little good, because they can’t control what those other teams do on a weekly basis. So, it’s best to block out thoughts of fellow playoff contenders, and focus solely on the opponent of the week.
“I feel like it’s in the back of your mind. But when everybody’s this close like this year, you just try to take it one game at a time,” linebacker Mason Foster said. “Just like last year, you can’t think about the playoffs. You just have to think about the next game, because if you lose, that might blow your chances. It’s just one-game seasons, and you see how it is at the end of the year when you get to January.”
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