How Legitimate Are the Washington Redskins' Playoff Chances?

Tom NataliCorrespondent INovember 6, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 16: Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins jokes with head coach Mike Shanahan also of the Washington Redskins during pre-game warm ups prior to playing against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on September 16, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Here’s the Redskins' schedule for the duration of the season: Eagles, at Dallas, Giants, Ravens, at Browns, at Philly and the Cowboys.

Those opponents have a combined 26 wins and 32 losses—that’s a .441 winning percentage. There are four home games and three away. Two of those are nationally televised (at Dallas on Thanksgiving and then a Monday Night Football game against the Giants).

There are six teams from each conference that earn a trip to the playoffs. In the NFC, I would say five of those are basically solidified: Falcons, Bears, 49ers, Giants and Packers.

That makes the sixth and final seed up for grabs. So where does that leave the Redskins?

To put it bluntly, they aren’t in good shape. Their injuries have stockpiled, their offense has slowed down and Mike Shanahan appears to be on the brink of losing the locker room.

However, we’ve been down this road before. The two most recent playoff appearances stemmed from late-season surges provided by a power running game and a stellar defense.

From a mathematical standpoint and for the sake of blind hope, the 'Skins still have a shot at the playoffs.

With that being considered, the Washington Redskins are in a deep hole to put it lightly and it’s incredible how much the NFL changes on a week-to-week basis.

Two weeks ago, after Robert Griffin III ran down the field in an upset victory against Minnesota, Mike Shanahan and his Redskins were sitting right where they wanted to be.

They were at 3-3, they recovered from their mistakes against St. Louis and Cincinnati and beat a good Vikings team.

Since then, they’ve been in shambles to the point where now even Mike Shanahan’s coaching ability is being legitimately questioned—as it should be.

So if I was a betting man, would I pencil the Redskins in for the sixth and final wild-card spot? There’s absolutely no way.

Even with seven games featuring poor teams (Eagles and Cowboys twice and Cleveland), I have little faith in this defense and it seems that opposing teams are finding effective ways to combat Griffin or his receivers decide to drop everything in sight.

At 3-6, the Redskins are in full playoff mode. Quite possibly, they can afford to lose one more game, but that’s it.

To their advantage, teams rally around their must-win approach. Good franchises will play with a sense of urgency and purpose.

The execution will have to improve and Mike Shanahan has a lot of explaining to do as well.

Going into the season, I had the realistic expectation of a 7-9 record for the Redskins. That’s a steady improvement for a young team that showed promise.

Anything less than that is a failure. I don’t put injuries into the equation because every team faces adversity.

Again, can it be done? Are all seven of those teams beatable? I would say yes. Of course, it’s easier said than done, but all of those teams have weaknesses.

What the Redskins need to do is play a complete game. They have yet to play good football in every facet of the game. Without doing so, we are going to be in for a long season.

The bye week this Sunday couldn’t have come at a better time. The players need a week to rest their bodies and minds as the duration of their season is going to be an uphill battle.

At the moment, my thoughts on the Redskins are not good and justifiably so, but there are seven games left and we’re about to find how good this team really wants to be.