Washington Redskins: Can They Make a Final Playoff Push?

The Washington Redskins won’t be repeating as NFC East champions. But can they get back to the playoffs for a second straight year?

The Washington Redskins are preparing for a visit from the Carolina Panthers on Monday night. The defending NFC champions have had a rough go of it this year and is unlikely to be back in the playoffs for a fourth straight year.

Meanwhile, Jay Gruden’s team will not repeat as NFC East champs. But that doesn’t mean the club still can’t get back in the playoffs. Following a 0-2 start, the Skins are 7-3-1 in their last 11 contests and sit in third place in arguably the NFL’s most improved division this season.

This is a franchise that has to make some decisions early in 2017, especially when it comes to quarterback Kirk Cousins. One year after leading the league in completion percentage (69.8), he has remained hot. The fifth-year signal-caller is connecting on 67.5 of his throws—good for 4,045 yards, 23 scores and just nine interceptions.

And given the erratic nature of the Washington defense, Gruden’s offense has continued to carry the load. The Redskins average a solid 25.4 points per game and are allowing 24.4 points a contest. The club has scored 35 offensive touchdowns while Joe Barry’s defenders have surrendered an equal amount of trips to the end zone. Led by Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy, the Skins have totaled 34 sacks and forced 16 turnovers.

While those defensive numbers are respectable, they have barely been good enough. The Redskins have allowed at least 20 points in all but one of their 13 contests this year. It has been up to Cousins and the offense to carry the load, along with wideouts Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Jamison Crowder, as well as tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. Running back Robert Kelley has done his share, but it’s been the aerial attack of this team that has been extremely potent this year.

With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ loss at Dallas on Sunday night, Gruden’s club has new life. A win over the Panthers would be a real coup but don’t expect it to be easy, especially with old friend Josh Norman covering the likes of Garcon, Jackson and Crowder. We’ll see which team will deliver at FedExField on Monday evening.

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