Examining how close the team is to a title

Antonio Gibson, Morgan Moses, and Cornelius Lucas of the Washington Football Team. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

How good is the Washington Football Team? Or, maybe a better question, how close is the Washington Football Team to being a legitimate Super Bowl contender?

Ask 10 people and you’ll get a dozen different answers. (Some people just can’t make up their minds. We tend to call such people “NFL studio analysts.”)

In the wake of Tampa Bay’s dismantling of the seemingly invincible Kansas City Chiefs, some Washington fans are pumping their own expectations of how good the team can be in 2021. They use that old schoolyard game we all used to play.

Washington lost to Tampa by eight points (with a totally unknown quarterback to boot). Only one other team – Green Bay – came closer to Tampa in the playoffs. Verily and henceforth, the Washington Football Team shall be deemed the third-best team in the league – better than anyone from the AFC.

If Washington can just manage to inch ahead of Tampa and Green Bay (both of whom have elderly QBs just one bad fall away from assisted living), Washington becomes the team to beat for the Lombardi Trophy.

I realize not many people who have advanced beyond third grade adhere to this line of thought, but for those of you who still need a reminder, remember this.

The Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Indianapolis Colts this year. Those same Colts beat Chicago. Chicago beat Tampa Bay this year. Thusly presented, the Jacksonville Jaguars are the best team in the NFL in 2020. Only took three degrees of separation to get there.

Washington proved in its wild card game against Tampa that its offense – the clear weakness of the team – has more firepower than we may have thought. Especially when it can employ a quarterback who makes quick throws and can run. But the nature of the NFL is such that a couple of small factors can have an outsized impact on any particular game.

Had not Tampa receiver Chris Godwin chosen to have his worst day as a pro against Washington, several Tampa drives would have been extended and would very likely have resulted in more Bucs’ points. Had emerging superstar linebacker Devin White been healthy enough to play, those runs that Heinicke used to extend drives and score a touchdown, may never have been possible.

You can go on and on with this. My point is – you can only read so much into any one particular result.

So back to the original question. How close is Washington?

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