Someone has to win the NFC East in 2020, and Washington is currently tied with the Giants for first place at 4-7. But the Football Team’s performance over its next few games will be critical if the club is to host the NFC’s No. 5 seed — a team that will almost certainly carry a better record.
After soundly defeating the Cowboys 41-16 on Thanksgiving, Washington is scheduled to play at Pittsburgh in Week 13, at San Francisco in Week 14, and at home against Seattle in Week 15.
“These three teams will be measuring sticks for us,” Washington head coach Ron Rivera said on Monday, via John Keim of ESPN. “In the AFC, Pittsburgh is the elite; San Francisco was elite last year and is finding its way back, and Seattle is one of the elite right now.”
Washington has won two in a row, but those victories have been over the 2-8-1 Bengals and the 3-8 Cowboys. The Steelers, 49ers, and Seahawks have a combined record of 22-9.
Other than Cincinnati, the Football Team hasn’t won a game outside its division. In the NFC West and AFC North, Washington lost each of its games to the Rams, Cardinals, Browns, and Ravens by at least two touchdowns.
Alex Smith is now the Football Team’s starting quarterback, and his veteran presence might make a difference. But Washington will have to improve significantly in all areas to reach a high mark on that measuring stick.