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Can the Redskins Make the Playoffs?

The Redskins’ 17-16 Monday Night Football victory over the New York Giants wasn’t flashy and it wasn’t pretty, but it happened, and the Redskins are now 6-6 and have a slightly better-than-outside shot at making the playoffs. Even the team he just beat was effusive in their praise of Robert Griffin III, the sensational rookie quarterback.

“The sky’s the limit for him,” said Giants GM Jerry Reese. “He’s a handful, there’s no question about it. … I think everyone in this locker room is competitive and likes challenges, and he definitely presents a challenge. We’ll look forward to trying to figure it out as we go through the years here.”

Even at .500, the Redskins have a realistic shot at making the playoffs. However, some of their losses earlier in the year look pretty ugly now, and could come back to haunt them. The 31-28 loss to the St. Louis Rams in the second week of the season is particularly egregious, as is the 21-13 loss to Carolina on November 4. And that doesn’t even take into account the ‘Skins heartbreaking 27-23 loss to the Giants on October 21. This Redskins team, even just a month after that brutal Carolina loss, is playing infinitely better than they did then. But is it too late for them? Things will have to break just right, but stranger things have happened.

Next weekend, the Redskins get Baltimore at home, then hit the road to take on the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles before getting the Cowboys at home in Week 17. The last three games of the season are completely winnable, but there is no room for error. Next weekend’s game against Baltimore will be the Redskins’ season, and that’s that. However, Baltimore has looked extremely vulnerable against the run lately, and the Redskins have a somewhat secret rookie weapon on that front who isn’t named Robert Griffin III.

Running back Alfred Morris, who ran for 124 yards on 22 carries against the Giants, is another big, albeit quiet, reason why the Redskins have been so successful. Morris has had an unbelievable season, rushing for 1106 yards and six touchdowns on 230 carries, good for a stupendous 4.8 yards per rush. His teammate in the backfield is likely and deservedly the Offensive Rookie of the Year, though Morris deserves a look for the hardware too.

“I’m not going to take any credit for Alfred’s success,” Griffin said. “Except maybe for lifting with him in the offseason, helping him get stronger, maybe. I look forward to playing with him for many years. And I’ve told people, if I had a vote for rookie of the year, I’d vote for him.”

Indeed, the Redskins recipe for success is nothing new; they are ranked first in the NFL in rushing and fourth in run defense. If they squeak in as a sixth seed, they could potentially be devastating. Their defense needs to get some stops in the passing game (the ‘Skins are currently second to last in the entire league in pass defense) for that to happen, however, and they must play virtually perfect football against the Ravens next weekend. However, the Redskins can stop the run and run the ball. It’s a tried and true formula, and one that has shown to achieve great success in the playoffs. Now all the Redskins have to do is get there.

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