ESPN's Michael Wilbon thinks Washington can win a playoff game originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Washington has won one playoff game in the 21st century. Fourteen years removed, and one pundit is saying Washington can win a postseason game before it has even clinched a spot.
“The Washington Football Team is going to get in the playoffs, and they can beat somebody in the playoffs, at least one somebody,” ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” co-host Michael Wilbon said.
Wilbon’s co-host, Tony Kornheiser, wanted to make sure he pinned Wilbon down on a potentially bold prediction that the Burgundy and Gold can escape the NFC Wild Card round, this year expanded to three games in that round.
“The Washington Football Team, once they get into the playoffs, can win a playoff game. Yes,” Wilbon said. “I’m sorry, didn’t the Eagles just beat the New Orleans Saints yesterday?”
“Yes,” Kornheiser answered.
“Ok, that answers that question,” Wilbon said.
The Jalen Hurts-led Eagles proved anyone can win on a given night between NFC foes, as not even the Saints, who prior to Sunday had won nine straight contests, could avoid an upset against Philadelphia.
“I’m done saying the NFC East is bad, it doesn’t matter anymore,” Wilbon said. “I know the Giants slipped up yesterday, but Philadelphia got a shot in the arm from a rookie quarterback. Dallas even won for what it’s worth. That narrative is gone now.”
With a stifling defense, Washington could certainly make noise in the playoffs against a team that might overlook them. In their four-game winning streak, as Kornhesier noted, Washington ranks sixth in points allowed and fourth in rushing yards allowed. It’s a defense built for the playoffs, and the elite offenses that come along with it.
“Where did this come from? I think it comes from the fact that coach Ron Rivera and his defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio played defense in the league at a pretty high level, and that matters to them,” Kornheiser said.
With defensive playmakers like Defensive Rookie Player of the Year candidate Chase Young, fellow pass rusher Montez Sweat and linebacker Jon Bostic, “their front seven could be as good as anyone’s front seven,” Wilbon said.
“That front seven is tremendous. That defense leads that team,” Wilbon said.
Now, the issue comes at the quarterback position. Right as the club was starting to find its way with Alex Smith under center, the veteran QB left Sunday’s game with a calf injury in the same leg that he’s fought so hard to recover from 17 surgeries and almost two years of rehabilitation.
“They’re in trouble because they go to Dwayne Haskins, who earlier in the year Ron Rivera didn’t like him enough to not only not start him, but demote him to third string,” Kornheiser said. “So this is a big opportunity for Haskins to show that he was a first-round pick like he was.”
Wilbon said it would be a shame if Haskins, a DMV native and all, failed to help Washington across the finish line to make the playoffs. But with Seattle, Carolina, and Philadelphia remaining on the schedule, Haskins likely would have to lead his team to at least two victories to guarantee an NFC East title and the fourth seed in the NFC bracket.
That’s because of the danger of a tie with the Giants, who hold the head-to-head tiebreaker against Washington, would present due to the crowded Wild Card race.
Still, with the way Washington’s defense has been playing, no NFC offense will want to line up across Young and company.