Washington win in Detroit would mean more than just 5 straight

WASHINGTON – Before the 2016 season began, who would have thought going to Detroit on Oct. 23 would be a pretty big game for the Redskins?

After four straight wins, the Redskins are sitting at 4-2 and a game ahead of the Lions, who have won two of three, in the conference standings. All of the sudden, this is a pretty big game in the NFC Playoff picture. Yes, I know it’s only week seven, but any win the Redskins can lock up in the NFC is a big one.

Conference record is the third tiebreaker the NFL uses, following division record and head-to-head matchups. Therefore, a win on the road against an NFC team could be big come Week 17.

In the beginning of the year, the Redskins schedule seemed to be nearly impossible following the bye week. That may not be the case now as the Bengals (2-4), Panthers (1-5), Packers (4-2) and Cardinals (3-3) no longer seem invincible. The Redskins are 2-1 against the NFC East, a division that now seems like it might be one of the top in the NFL. Over the last 16 regular season games, this team is 11-5. That’s a pretty good sample size, and it might be time to start taking this team seriously.

After rushing for a season high 230 yards against the Eagles, the Redskins get to face a Lions defense that is struggling, ranked 25th in the NFL in total defense. They are giving up nearly 380 yards a game and 25.5 points a game. That presents a decent chance for the Redskins offense – most likely without Jordan Reed again – to take advantage with the weapons it has. Last week, Kirk Cousins spread the ball around and used the entire field to beat the Eagles.

The real bright spot of this four-game winning streak has been the defense. After two games, everyone was ready to run defensive coordinator Joe Barry out of town. Players kept saying the team was close to putting a good game together, close to turning it around and they were right.

Over the winning streak, the defense has not allowed a touchdown in the second half of any of the four games. In all, the Redskins have allowed a total of 15 points in the second half of the four games, including shutting out the Ravens after halftime in Baltimore.

This week, Barry returns to Detroit, where he was the defensive coordinator of the 2008 0-16 Lions team. Think he will have a little extra in his pregame talk?

While sitting at 4-2 is nice after an 0-2 start, the team knows it has a long way to go. The veterans – Ricky Jean Francois, Will Blackmon, Vernon Davis, Trent Williams – know what’s left in front of them.

“We haven’t done anything yet,” Jean Francois said at practice this week.

But believe it or not, a win on Sunday would make the Redskins 3-0 away from FedEx Field and would give them a six-game road winning streak dating back to last season.

George Wallace

George Wallace is the WTOP sports director. He began at WTOP on Christmas Day of 2000.

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