If the Washington Redskins can beat the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, they'll be on their first five-game winning streak since 2005, which just so happens to be the last year in which they won a playoff game.
The problem is that Washington might not have its best player and offensive leader if Robert Griffin III's knee isn't healthy enough to take the field in Cleveland. And unfortunately for the 'Skins, Griffin likely needs both knees on the field in order to successfully play football.
We've already heard a potential slip that Griffin won't play from Pierre Garcon, as well as gotten a strong indication he will play from RG2 (Griffin's dad). By the time the week's through, we'll likely have heard from distant cousins and amateur knee specialists world-wide, but with Mike Shanahan running the show we won't likely know Griffin's actual fate for Week 15 until the eleventh hour has arrived.
In the meantime, here's our latest state of the union-style look at the hottest team in the NFC East.
What They Should Be Thinking
Griffin might not only be our MVP, but he might be the league's MVP. Without him, we're in big trouble. The Browns might seem like an easy opponent from afar, but that defense has been one of the best in the NFL the last two months and there's no telling what rookie fourth-round pick Kirk Cousins will bring to the table if he's forced to make his first career start in place of RG3.
Some will conclude that, if indeed Griffin has to sit, this is the injury that will break the camel's back for us in 2012. We've already lost crucial contributors such as Brian Orakpo, Adam Carriker and Fred Davis and arguably can't afford to go to work without Griffin under center.
The defense, which is also without the suspended Cedric Griffin, who struggled quite a lot to prevent big plays last week. That's nothing new, but we're also beginning to have serious trouble against the run. Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce and Ahmad Bradshaw have killed us on the ground the last two weeks. Those three backs have combined to average 5.3 yards per carry against our D.
We're due to come back to earth. We just have to hope and pray that RG3 gets healthy and we somehow keep pulling victories out of our hat.
Cousins looked superb in a clutch appearance in relief of Griffin against the Ravens. He'll have a tough task against the Browns, but he's smart, mature and accurate enough to hang in, and he's mobile enough that our offense doesn't have to completely change in order to adapt to his presence under center.
Who should be coach of the year?
We've overcome injuries time and again this year. That's why Mike Shanahan and Kyle Shanahan deserve awards for the jobs they've done with this team. Jim Haslett, too, because this defense has made some very impressive adjustments the last few weeks and is getting pressure that wasn't there in the early stages of the post-Orakpo era.
Yes, we've struggled defensively, but the Browns still don't present too much of a challenge to our D. Same goes for the depleted Eagles' offense next week.
Griffin's injury isn't too serious. He'll be back, and we'll prevail. We just have to keep doing what we've been doing the last four weeks. The Giants have a much tougher road than we do, and we're alive in both the division and the wild-card race.
What I'm Thinking
Stock Rising (offense): Kirk Cousins
Two sweet completions—one for a touchdown—and a two-point conversion on a keeper against the Ravens. Clutch play from Cousins, whom I'm confident can hold it down if RG3 has to miss time.
Stock Rising (defense): Ryan Kerrigan
He hasn't been effective without Orakpo this season, but he had a surprise performance against the Ravens, putting up five pressures, four tackles and three stops while posting the top defensive rating on the team, per Pro Football Focus.
Stock Dropping (offense): Santana Moss
One week after being shut out, Moss had three catches but also a bad drop against the Ravens. He's not sliding dramatically, but the offense has been performing well.
Stock Dropping (defense): Madieu Williams
It's been a tough year for Williams, but he was a special disaster against the Ravens, missing five tackles, according to PFF. At least he didn't screw up in coverage?
I'm still leaning their way in the NFC East regardless of Griffin's injury. I think they hang on to beat the Browns with or without him, but I don't think he'll miss time anyway. Just a guess.
The schedule isn't easy the rest of the way, especially with Cleveland and Philly playing better of late, but I have a good feeling about this team.
View last week's report here