With the Redskins in the middle of their bye week, there's a little time to reflect on how they got here and what, if anything, they can do to salvage a season that apparently went from promising to kaput in the span of three weeks.
We say "apparently," because despite coach Mike Shanahan saying this shortly after last Sunday's loss to the Panthers -- "Obviously, we're not out of it statistically, but now we find out what type of character we got and how guys keep on fighting through the rest of the season…" -- he didn't mean that he's giving up on 2012.
"To suggest that the season was over with is completely ludicrous," he said.
Shanahan was clearly trying to stuff the toothpaste back into the tube with those remarks. Whether he believes them is another issue. But maybe he should. At least to hear the Brian Burke of the Washington Post. And before you accuse Burke of blind homeriam, know this: he's a stats guy and if we've learned anything in recent days it's that stats guys deserve your respect.
Anyway, Burke's statistical model simulates the season thousands of times. The findings:
When we put the numbers through this grinder, the Redskins come out with a 5 percent shot at a playoff spot at any seed. If this seems high to you, it probably is. During Shanahan’s defense of his postgame statement, he cited the fact that only three 3-6 teams went on to make the playoffs. But there are some good reasons why this year might be different.
First, there are no NFC divisions with dual juggernauts this season. … Despite their losing record, the Redskins are not a bad team. … Five percent isn’t much, but it’s real. It’s too soon to give up on the playoffs, either realistically or as merely a matter of motivation.
FootballOutsiders.com, also a site devoted to statistics over gut feelings, is slightly less bullish on the 'Skins' playoff chances. According to their weekly playoff odds report, Washington has a 3.1 percent chance to qualify for the postseason. Interestingly, Football Outsiders has the Redskins' odds of winning the division and the No. 4 seed (1.7%) higher than than making it as a wild-card team (1.4%).
Put another way: we're telling you there's a chance.