Redskins are in NFL's muddled middle

Redskins are in NFL's muddled middle
October 18, 2011, 2:21 pm
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Since all NFL teams have played at least five games, almost a third of the season, we have enough preliminary evidence to sort them into groups of the really good, the awful and the mass of mediocrity. Lets see how they stack up in terms of their records and where the Redskins stand in all of this.The very goodWhile we have a decent sample size, its too early to start talking about great teams. That's an overused term, anyway. There might be one or two great teams in a decade, we seem to want to proclaim several every year. While perhaps excellent could be used I feel more comfortable at this point with very goodNFC: Packers (6-0), Lions (5-1), 49ers (5-1)AFC: Chargers (4-1), Ravens (4-1), Patriots (5-1)

The awfulThese are the candidates in the, um, Muck it up for Luck sweepstakes.NFC: Rams (0-5), Cardinals (1-4), Vikings (1-5), Panthers (1-5)AFC: Broncos (1-4), Colts (1-6), Dolphins (0-5)The mass of mediocrityThe other 19 teams in the NFL are in the parity pack. They have won at least two games and have lost at least two. With good luck, one of these teams could finish 10-6 and a series of misfortunes could send some tumbling to 6-10. You could probably separate some of them. The Steelers and Bills, both 4-2, are probably better than the 2-3 Chiefs and Seahawks. But until results elevate a team into the upper echelon or lower it into awful, Ill consider those teams to be in the mass.The remaining schedule for the Redskins, who are in the mass along with the other three teams in the NFC East, has a mix of teams from all three tiers. Having already played two of the awful teams, the Rams and Cardinals, the Redskins play three more of them as they host the Vikings and go on the road to play the Dolphins and Panthers. They have two remaining games against the top dogs as the Patriots and 49ers will be coming to FedEx Field.That means that six of their remaining games are against the mass. Half of those games are in the NFC East with upcoming trips to New York and Philadelphia and a home game against the Cowboys. One of the worst elements of yesterdays loss, record of the opponent aside, is that it was a home division game. They will now have to pull off a road division win and hold serve against Dallas to get to 3-3 in the NFC East.The other three mass of mediocrity games are at home against the Jets, against the Bills in Toronto, and at Seattle.After Sunday some are scoffing at playoff talk regarding the Redskins but the facts are that they are a half game out of first place in the division and a win over the awful Panthers on Sunday would have them tied for the lead.Teams will rise and teams will collapse but for right now, lets say that the Packers, Lions, and 49ers will make the playoffs and that the four awful teams will not. That leaves the Redskins as one of nine teams fighting for the other three playoff spots.A year ago, the Redskins were 3-2 and coming off of their best win of the season, a 16-13 overtime victory over the Packers. But they won just three of their final 11 games. The Packers also were 3-2 after that game. We know how their season ended.The Redskins probably are not Super Bowl contenders. But they still have a chance to have a pretty good season, at least by comparison to what they have accomplished in the last 20 years. And, as we saw last year, they also have a shot at having another mediocre finish.Rich Tandler blogs about the Redskins at You can reach him by email at and follow him on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.

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