Sizing up the NFC East race and the Redskins remaining schedule

The Redskins might only be 4-5, but that's good enough for a shot at their first NFC East title since 2012.

https://twitter.com/MisterRoast98/status/666055452447248386

This tweet from Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton didn't come immediately after the Redskins' rousing 47-14 win over the New Orleans Saints. It came seconds after a certain reality truly kicked in: Washington is squarely in the NFC East title race.

The Redskins improved to 4-5 with the victory over the defensively inept Saints, but that's not all that happened Sunday.

https://twitter.com/BenStandig/status/666057169805119488

Let's briefly walk through it all

* New England 27 New York 26: The Giants nearly took down the mighty -- and currently undefeated -- Patriots once again, but Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 54-yard field goal with one second left. New York led by 10 points in the second half and intercepted Tom Brady near the Giants goal line early in the fourth quarter. Thing is, there should have been a second pick, but rookie safety Landon Collins couldn't hang on. With new life, Brady drove the Pats into position for the winning kick and dropped the Giants to 5-5.

* Miami 20 Philadelphia 19: Seems impossible that the Eagles (4-5) lost seeing as they led 16-3 after the first quarter. Then the Dolphins pulled within three points by halftime and then quarterback Sam Bradford suffered a shoulder injury and a concussion in the third quarter. Enter Mark Sanchez. No fumble, but he threw an interception deep in Miami territory

* Tampa Bay 10 Dallas 6: You can read what happened here. For this discussion, all that's needed to know is the Cowboys are now 2-7. That record should end division title talk...but maybe not this season and noting Tony Romo is almost back.

All of that means the Giants, Redskins and Eagles are tied in the loss column with the Cowboys two games back. Washington and Philadelphia could move into a true first place tie with wins in Week 11 while New York watches during its bye. 

The race is shockingly tight or at least it's surprising the Redskins remain in the mix. Can they remain there and then some over the final seven weeks? 

Based on the schedule, the answer is yes, and no.

Let's start with the matchups. The Redskins will certainly enter Sunday's matchup at Carolina (9-0) as the underdog. Get past this game and the schedule looks more hopeful

Nov. 29 - Giants

Dec. 7 (Monday) - Cowboys

Dec. 13 - at Bears

Dec. 20 - Bills

Dec. 26 - at Eagles

Jan. 3 - at Cowboys

Of those final five opponents, only Buffalo (5-4) currently owns a winning record. Granted, neither does Washington, but at least it shouldn't enter any of these matchups facing long, long odds.

Also, four division games remain, which provides plenty of opportunities for a two-game swing.

However, four of the final seven games are on the road. The Redskins are 0-4 away from FedEx Field this season and 1-11 on the road under coach Jay Gruden. The one victory came at Dallas last season.

If we rank the opponents from best to worst, Washington plays the top two (Buffalo, New York) at home, although Dallas will be a tough out when Romo returns.

The Giants are already finished with the Cowboys. What Eli Manning and company includes games with the Panthers, Vikings (7-2), Jets (5-4) and no team with less than a 4-5 record. As for the Eagles, they still have to play the Patriots (9-0), Cardinals (6-2 heading into the Sunday night game at Seattle) and Bills along with the Lions, Buccaneers, Giants and Redskins.

Plenty of time remains for most twists and turns, but the end of the season is also rapidly approaching. Surprising to many, the final seven weeks may have meaning beyond positioning for draft picks and contemplating changes for 2016. The reality is the Redskins are very much in play for the 2015 NFC East title even at 4-5. Surprising indeed.


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