While last year's seven-game win streak to capture the division makes the Washington Redskins a hard team to give up on late in the season, no one'll blame you for not feeling warm and fuzzy about the team's chances of pulling off something similar to end this year.
Although faced with the same uphill climb with seven games to go and a 3-6 record, this Redskins team doesn't draw good odds of whipping up the same magic we saw last year.
Mathematically speaking, Washington remains alive. It's one of those situations where some of us desperate fans say, "Well technically we can still make the playoffs." And thanks to an ugly division where the NFC East leader is 5-4, technically said fan would be right.
But can anyone definitively convince themselves the Redskins are better than anyone else in the division?
The Redskins have four division games left: one against the Philadelphia Eagles, one against the Dallas Cowboys and two against the New York Giants. Two of those teams have already beaten the Redskins and not a whole lot has changed since then.
Robert Griffin III continues to improve physically every game, but his passing still isn't consistent. The offensive line is still the same offensive line, the defense continues to force heart attacks among the fanbase and the special teams unit is just as good as your local pee-wee squad.
On paper, maybe Washington appears to be the better team. But it's entirely too hard to believe things will correct themselves in the next 10 days before the Redskins travel to Philadelphia.
Sprinkled among the remaining division matchups are two conference games against the reigning NFC champion San Francisco 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons, as well as a non-conference game against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.
Needless to say, the Redskins' remaining schedule—albeit potentially lucrative—is far from a walk in the park. If you still want to cling onto hope, though, last year's final seven wasn't much easier.
One of the key obstacles the Redskins face this season that they didn't necessarily face a year ago is that of pressure. Immense pressure to perform after Griffin's spectacular rookie season, following the devastating injury suffered last January and in the fourth year of Mike Shanahan's five-year plan.
After the juicy news dropped by ESPN 980 Redskins insider Chris Russell last Friday, all of us can now begin to wonder if the turmoil is real in Washington. And we can fully expect to hear the name Art Briles a lot more.
The rumors of new coaches and offensive coordinators in Washington should be plentiful after Thursday night's loss to Minnesota, and who's to say there isn't legitimate smoke? As a result, the rumors get to brewing and suddenly there's even more pressure and frustration surrounding the team.
Finally, from a talent standpoint, specifically in two phases of the game, Washington should be expected to struggle the whole rest of the way. The defense is the league's worst, according to Pro Football Focus (membership required), and the special teams has been a threat to cost the Redskins a game since the start of the season (coincidentally, they too are ranked at the bottom of their respective category).
When you look at the Redskins' three wins through nine games so far, the word "quality" shouldn't be on the list of possible descriptors. The win against Oakland came against a backup quarterback in Matt Flynn who is no longer employed by the team, the win against the Chicago Bears came in a shootout with their backup quarterback and the win against the San Diego Chargers last week was about six inches and a decent play-call by Ken Whisenhunt in the final seconds away from being a loss.
Perspective and outlook on the Redskins' remaining games will differ based on each fan's optimism. As much as I'd like to be the guy rah-rahing for another rally to clinch the division and host a playoff game for the second consecutive season, the equation doesn't add up in favor of Washington.
I can't help but see the Redskins' final seven games as half empty.