Washington beat Dallas in a battle of 3-7 teams on Thanksgiving, which would ordinarily mean nothing in the NFL playoff picture. But this year’s NFC East is anything but ordinary.
By improving to 4-7, Washington moved into first place in the division. And it may only take six wins to host a playoff game this year.
Washington will be a big underdog in its next game, at Pittsburgh, but the following week at San Francisco is a winnable game. After that Washington will be an underdog at home against Seattle, before closing the season with two more winnable games, home against Carolina and at Philadelphia. It’s easy to see Washington going 6-10 or 7-9, which should be enough to win the division.
The Giants are 3-7 and will likely be favored in two more games: at Cincinnati this week and home against Dallas in Week 17. The Giants will likely be underdogs at Seattle, home against Arizona, home against Cleveland and at Baltimore. A 5-11 finish looks likely.
The Eagles are 3-6-1 but will be underdogs in the next four, against the Seahawks, Packers, Saints and Cardinals. Philadelphia then closes the season at Dallas, and home against Washington. The most likely scenario is that Philadelphia is 4-10-1 going into that Week 17 game against Washington, and Washington may already have six wins by then.
The Cowboys are 3-8 but their schedule is a little easier: Their next game is at a Baltimore team that is ravaged by COVID-19. After that the Cowboys go to Cincinnati, then get the 49ers and Eagles at home before finishing the season with the Giants. The Cowboys reaching 6-10 or 7-9 is certainly feasible, but they’ve been swept by Washington, so they’d lose a tiebreaker.
Plenty can change over the final six weeks of the season, and all four NFC East teams are still in contention. But first-place Washington has to like the look of things.