WASHINGTON–In the immortal words of former NFL Head Coach Jim Mora, “playoffs? PLAYOFFS?!?!”
Washington football fans are finding themselves asking the same question, often in the same shocked tone.
We are one quarter of the way through the NFL season, and the burgundy and gold are tied for the NFC-East lead.
After a thrilling comeback 23-20 victory over division opponent Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday, Washington improved its win-loss record to 2-2 and is competing in what has quickly become the tightest division in football.
Division rivals like Philadelphia and the Dallas Cowboys have been bitten by the injury bug and through one quarter of the season have not yet lived up to lofty preseason expectations.
The New York Giants let two double-digit fourth quarter leads slip away in their first two games of the season, but have now won back-to-back games.
All four NFC East teams are within one game of each other, and while none of the four teams have been particularly impressive in 2015, at least one has to win the division, and now some are asking: why not Washington?
“Washington has every right to think it can win the division,” Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio said on NBCsports.com.
This is a far cry from the beginning of the season, when www.fivethirtyeight.com gave Washington the lowest playoff probability of any team in football.
According to www.playoffstatus.com, a website solely devoted to giving updated percentages of playoff chances in a variety of sports, Washington now has about a 30 percent chance of making the playoffs.
While the prediction website still gives the Cowboys and Giants a better chance of winning the NFC East, Washington has closed the gap considerably over the first four weeks of the season.
However, not all playoff prediction machines think so highly of Washington.
Www.fivethirtyeight.com still doesn’t believe in Kirk Cousins and company, ranking Washington as the sixth-worst team in the NFL.
Although it ranks Washington as the 27th best team in football, Nate Silver’s website still gives Jay Gruden’s team roughly an 18 percent chance of making the playoffs, almost double the team’s preseason chances.
Unfortunately for Washington fans, fivethirtyeight.com is only the middle ground.
ESPN’s Football Power Index still only gives Washington only a 10 percent chance to make the playoffs, and a six percent chance to win the NFC East.
ESPN also lists the Eagles, who have already suffered division losses to Washington and Dallas, as the favorites to win the NFC East.
The difference in predicted playoff percentages tells us the only important thing to know after one quarter of the NFL season: there is still A LOT of football left to be played.
For now, Washington fans should just sit back, relax, and enjoy being tied for first place.
Washington will put it’s first-place record on the line Sunday when the team travels to Atlanta to take on the 4-0 Falcons. The game is scheduled to kick off at 1:00 p.m. on FOX.