Are the Redskins in a must-win situation?

Are the Redskins in a must-win situation?
September 20, 2013, 11:45 am
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Missed tackles coming back to bite Redskins

Tandler - Tarik

Redskins Post Game Live

By Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler

The Redskins are 0-2 as they prepare to host the Lions on Sunday. They clearly need a win to get their season back on track.

But are they facing a must-win situation? Will their season go completely off the rails if they fall to the Lions and drop to 0-3? Or can they still achieve all of their goals with 13 games left to play? Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir debate those questions in this week’s edition of Point-Counterpoint.

Tandler: No question, this group does not want to be the first Redskins team to lose to the Lions in Washington. But a loss would not be a fatal blow to their hopes of making it to the postseason for the second year in a row. For one thing, they have been there before. Last year at 3-6 they were three games under .500 with seven to play and they won the division. If they lose to the Lions they will again be three games under but there would be 13 games left to make up ground. It certainly would be doable. On top of that, the Redskins have the good fortune to be playing in the NFC East. For all of the hype the four teams in that division get, the early results point to it being one of the weakest division in the NFL. The Eagles’ loss to the Chiefs on Thursday night moved the teams to a collective 0-5 outside of the division. Philly has proven to be an ordinary team when the opposition actually tackles the guy with the ball, the Giants can’t run as Eli throws picks by the bushel, and the Cowboys only stop shooting themselves in the foot when they have to reload. The Redskins don’t want to be 0-3 but since it will only take nine, maybe eight wins to take the division a loss Sunday doesn’t leave them without realistic hope.

El-Bashir: The odds, as I pointed out in my game preview, aren’t good if the Redskins lose to the Lions. Only three out of 115 teams that have opened 0-3 since 1990 have gone on to make the playoffs. And none since the 1998 Bills. I’m no statistician. But last year the Redskins overcame similarly harrowing odds. Could that happen in back-to-back years? Perhaps. But that would be like buying a Powerball ticket andexpecting to win. And look at the rest of the Redskins’ schedule. It’s not like it gets any easier. Chicago. At Denver. At Minnesota. San Francisco. At Atlanta. That’s a lot of programs that won 10 games a year ago. The Lions are a team the Redskins can beat. Given their 0-2 start, they’re also a team the Redskins really, really need to beat. I agree with Rich that Washington’s best path to the playoffs likely runs through the mediocre (I’m being nice here) NFC East. But do you really want the Redskins to be 0-3 and perhaps questioning themselves as they head across three time zones to face an improving Oakland team that nearly upset the Colts and easily handled the Jaguars? A loss Sunday wouldn't be a fatal blow. But the Redskins' postseason aspirations certainly would be on life support.