Tandler's Take 2-0

The Redskins can wrap up a playoff berth with a win on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons....Well, almost.

A win would push them to 2-0 and history shows that Redskins teams that have started 2-0 have made the playoffs considerably more often than not.

Here are the Redskin teams that have started 2-0 or better since 1970:

Season

Final
Record

Postseason Result

1971

9-4-1

Lost Wild Card Game

1972

11-3

Lost In Super Bowl VII

1975

8-6

Missed playoffs

1976

10-4

Lost Wild Card Game

1978

8-8

Missed playoffs

1982

8-1

Won Super Bowl XVII

1986

12-4

Lost NFC Championship Game

1991

14-2

Won Super Bowl XXVI

So, of the eight teams that got off to a 2-0 start, six made the postseason, a 75% success rate. Those are pretty good odds. I’m sure that someone from Elias will do some research over the weekend and find out that the percentage around the league is about the same, if not better.

Why is the fast start so important? There are two main reasons, one concrete, and the other deals with intangibles.

The one that you can put your finger on is simple; winning your first two games gives you a cushion to work with throughout the season. You have the ability to survive a slump or a tough stretch of games later in the season. After starting 2-0, you can play .500 ball the rest of the way and finish 9-7, a record that probably lands you in a playoff spot, or at least puts you in the tiebreaker pool.

The other reason for the significance of starting out with success has to do with the importance of emotion and confidence in football. Success breeds success. This is especially crucial for this team as it was for the ’71 and ’82 editions of the Redskins. All of these teams were coming off of extended periods of mediocrity. They’d experienced a great deal of roster turnover and the players didn’t know what it was like to win in Burgundy and Gold.

Those two earlier teams won their first two games, found confidence and got on a roll that carried them into the post season. It will be interesting to see if this year’s Redskins can follow in their paths.

Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book has detailed coverage of every game the Redskins played from 1937 through the 2001 season. For details, go to RedskinsAtoZ.com


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