Quick Links

Tuesday Take—Redskins NFL’s most impressive

Tuesday Take—Redskins NFL’s most impressive

The New York Giants are the best team in the NFL right now.

The Washington Redskins are the league's most impressive team.

A distinction without a difference?

Let me explain.

The Giants are 4-0, one of two undefeated teams in the league. One of those wins came against the Redskins. Going by the adage of that old Giants coach Bill Parcells, you are what your record says you are.

However, it's fair to say that the Giants have yet to be tested. Other than the Redskins, their opponents are from among the dregs of the NFL. Their three wins since the opener have come against the Rams, one of the worst teams in recent memory, the Bengals, the poster children for NFL futility, and the Seahawks, who still are in contention in the NFC West despite their 1-3 record. That Seattle win represents the lone 2008 victory among New York's three victims since they beat Washington.

But it's not like the Giants handpicked their opponents. The NFL, not Tom Coughlin, set up their schedule. Their performance shouldn't be downgraded because of who they have faced. And on top of that they beat the Redskins, so I have no problem with anyone who puts the Giants atop the Redskins in any sort of power ranking. They only can beat the teams that line up in front of them.

While the Giants have been knocking down tomato cans, the Redskins have gone 4-1 against teams with a combined total of 15 wins. Not only is that a significantly stronger schedule than the Giants have faced, it's also tougher than the road that the 4-1 Cowboys (opponents have a combined 9 wins, four of those belonging to the Redskins) and 4-1 Panthers (11 opponent wins).

If you don't want to believe me about this, go see what Jeff Sagrin says on USA Today. According to his rankings, the Redskins have faced the toughest schedule, the Giants have faced the easiest. Sagrin rates the opponents of Dallas and Carolina at #21 and #20 respectively.

If you want to go to the AFC and put the 5-0 Titans in the conversation, that's fine but consider their 31st-ranked schedule first. The 4-1 Steelers? Sagrin has their schedule at #29.

What makes the Redskins record even more impressive is the fact that it hasn't exactly been smooth sailing for them, going back to last January when Joe Gibbs retired unexpectedly. After the Giants game it was suggested that Gibbs' replacement as head coach, Jim Zorn, needed to go get some seasoning at someplace like DeMatha High and that he should take Jason Campbell with him.

Three of their best defensive players, Shawn Springs, Marcus Washington, and Jason Taylor, each has missed two games. All three of them were out in Philadelphia as the Redskins had to overcome a 14-point deficit after eight minutes of play. The Skins trailed New Orleans by nine in the fourth quarter before coming back to win.

To summarize the Redskins' resume—a 4-1 record against the toughest schedule in the NFL, overcoming injuries, turmoil, and some sizeable point deficits to get there. Nobody out there has done anything that impressive.

The title of the NFL's Most Impressive in early October and a five spot will get you a latte at Starbucks. There is a long way to go and I'll talk about the road ahead later this week.

But for right now, all things considered, that's pretty damn impressive.

Quick Links

Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked - and what didn't - against Arizona

Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked - and what didn't - against Arizona

CSN has teamed up with The Edge Systems to provide the occasional statistical review of Redskins game film. The Edge is analytical football software currently being used by coaches in the NFL, SEC, ACC and the media, providing some of the fastest and best data in football.

Below is a breakdown of the Redskins run game against Arizona - a game coach Jay Gruden admitted did not feature enough carries for Robert Kelley. 

The Redskins had a lot of success with their GAP runs early in the game.

In the first half they were successful on 75 percent of their GAP runs. 

As the game wore on the Redskins moved away from what had been successful and only ran two GAP runs in the second half.

As their power running game vanishing, mirrored their prospects for winning the game.

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Quick Links

State of the Redskins: Playoff chances trending in the wrong direction

State of the Redskins: Playoff chances trending in the wrong direction

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 14 of the NFL season.

Record: 6-5-1, 3rd in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 2-2
vs. NFC: 4-4
vs. AFC: 2-1-1
Home: 4-2
Away: 2-3-1

Rankings and changes from Week 13

Offense (yards/game): 418.6 (2nd, no change from Week 13)
Defense (yards/game): 369.6 (23rd, +2)
Points for: 303 (10th, -1)
Points against: 295 (20th, -2)

Passer rating offense:  99.8 (8th, -2)
Opp passer rating: 95.0 (22nd, -3)
Yards/rush attempt: 4.5 (5th, no change)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 4.6 (29th, +2)
Weighted DVOA (Football Outsiders): 9.8% (10th, no change)
Playoff chances per FO: 41.5%, -14.1% from last week

Trending the right way: Not much, really. Their ranking in rushing defense improved a couple of notches but mostly because other teams got worse, not because the Redskins put the clamps down on the rushing game.

Trending the wrong way: For the first time in a few weeks the Redskins’ playoff chances are below 50 percent. Two straight losses will do that.  

Top three storylines:

Letting them have it—Jay Gruden is usually supportive of his team after a loss but that was not the case following the Cardinals game. He could be heard speaking to the team in angry tones in the locker room following the loss. We will see if this rare tirade jump-starts the Redskins’ stretch run.

Dealing with injury issues—Not only do the Redskins have to be concerned about the condition of Jordan Reed, whose status is unclear as he rehabs from a shoulder injury he suffered on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas, their starting center is in the concussion protocol. If Spencer Long can’t go the Redskins may have to add a center to back up John Sullivan.

Help wanted—The Redskins need other teams to lose if they want to make the playoffs. They need a little help if they win out to finish 10-5-1; they need more help if they finish at 9-6-1. Scoreboard watching starts at 4:25 on Sunday when the Bucs, a half-game ahead of Washington, host the Saints and continues on Sunday night football with the Cowboys at the Giants.

Next three games

Sunday @ Eagles (5-7)—The Redskins handled them well in October; the final score did not indicate how Washington dominated the game. The Eagles look more like a rebuilding team than a playoff contender and the Redskins could elimate them for all practical purposes

December 19 vs. Panthers (4-8)—The season of the defending NFC champs officially came off the rails on Sunday night when Cam Newton started the game on the bench because he didn’t wear a tie and he ended it looking at the wrong end of a 40-7 beatdown by the Seahawks. Still, the Redskins have never beaten Newton so this is not one that will come easily.

Christmas Eve vs. Bears (3-9)—There is no such thing as an easy game in the NFL but if the Redskins can’t manage to win this one they don’t deserve to make the playoffs.