The nation’s sports commentariat has taken note of the Washington Redskins resurgence.
A check of the large and growing bushel basket of NFL power rankings finds a remarkable consensus: The Redskins have muscled themselves into the league’s top tier.
In fact, of the nearly three dozen power rankings compiled by the DC Pro Sports Report, the vast majority – 25 of 33 – put the Redskins eighth. Others have the club between ninth and 13th (except for the Baltimore Sun which, remarkably, thinks the ‘Skins are the seventh best squad in pro football).
Washington appeared to be out of it back on November 4 when they fell to the lowly Panthers, 21-13, their third loss in a row. Since then, the team has won five straight (their longest winning streak since 2005), a run that puts them atop at the NFC East at 8-6.
Here’s a sampling of what people are saying about the club’s prospects now:
Don Banks/CNN-SI (has the Redskins at 8, up from 11 last week):
“Washington's five-game winning streak makes it the hottest team in the NFC, and the franchise's first division title in 13 years is tantalizingly close to coming to fruition. That makes this week's game against the wounded and beaten down Eagles quite dangerous.”
SB Nation's Joel Thorman (has the Redskins at 8, up from 10):
“This is actually happening. The Redskins have arguably the best shot at a playoff spot among NFC East teams given the final two weeks of the schedule. RGIII in the playoffs? Yes, please.”
Sporting News (puts Washington at 11, up from 12):
“Sure, rookie running back Alfred Morris and rookie backup quarterback Kirk Cousins showed the Redskins aren't all just about RG3, but you can bet they'll be happy to have him back healthy for a surge into the playoffs.”
Why are the Redskins gaining respect? Blogger Tom Threlkeld says a lot of teams that played well early – like the Ravens, Steelers and Giants – have stumbled.
In addition, folks took notice of how the team played without its star QB last week. “A lot of people were particularly impressed by the Cleveland win,” Threlkeld says.
As for the remainder of the regular season, Threlkeld – a Redskins fan since childhood – admits he’s a bit nervous. “We’ve seen how the Redskins handle adversity – quite well. What we don’t know is how they’ll handle prosperity.”