The Washington Redskins propelled themselves into playoff talks this week with a close victory over the New York Giants. As the final seconds ticked off the Jumbotron that read 17-16, the Redskins moved up to 6-6, just one game behind the Giants. With four games left, the revitalized Redskins control their destiny down the home stretch.
Of the four remaining games, two are against divisional opponents (Eagles and Cowboys) and will go a long way in determining any playoff hopes. However, the first test will come tomorrow against the 9-3 Baltimore Ravens.
Baltimore is coming off an embarrassing loss the Roethlisberger-less (say that five times fast) Steelers and appears to have stalled out late in the season. Without Ray Lewis, and a questionable Terrell Suggs, the Ravens defense has struggled to keep points off the board.
The biggest problem for the Ravens this weekend will come in their run defense. Baltimore ranks as a bottom-ten run defense, allowing over 125 yards per game on the ground. On the other side of the ball will be RG3 and Alfred Morris, who are the key weapons in the NFL's best rushing attack (over 167 yards/game).
The Redskins will have their own issues to deal with on defense, as they hold the NFL's 31st passing defense. Baltimore brings dynamic threats, in Ray Rice and Torrey Smith, whom the Redskins will have to key on. With great weapons for both offenses, this game is setting up to be a high-scoring yet closely-contested battle.
If the Redskins are able to come away tomorrow with a win, they will hold a winning record for the first time this season since Week 1. The remaining schedule sets up favorably, with Cleveland, Philadelphia and a Week 17 showdown against Dallas.
The final two divisional games will ultimately decide the fate of the Redskins' season, but tomorrow represents the first critical step. To make the playoffs, the Redskins will need to win at least three of their next four games. The games against the Browns and Eagles are favorable matchups, but the Redskins will need to pull out at least one more against either Baltimore or Dallas.