Well, here we are, staring down the final four games of the season, a period of time that has either been extremely fortuitous for the Redskins, or not so much in the last 11 years.
The Redskins' 31-23 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday dropped the team's record to 6-5-1, out of the sixth playoff spot by a half game to Tampa Bay. They travel on the road to Philadelphia this week, return home to host the Panthers, visit Chicago on Christmas Eve and ring in the New Year at home against the New York Giants.
These are all winnable games – the Redskins have already beaten the Eagles and Giants this season – and it is conceivable that even if the Redskins do lose one of these next four games, finishing at 9-6-1, that they can still make the playoffs.
While it's certainly never ideal to feel as though each remaining game is a "must-win," the Redskins have been pretty good at putting pedal to metal when they've needed to the most.
Since 2005, the Redskins have made the playoffs four times, and [each one of those seasons required a four-game winning streak](http://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/tglfinder.cgi?request=1&match=single&yearmin=1940&yearmax=2016&gametype=R&gamenummin=13&gamenummax=16&weeknummin=14&weeknummax=17&temperaturegtlt=lt&gameresult=W&teamid=was&teamconfid=All Conferences&teamdivid=All Divisions&oppconfid=All Conferences&oppdivid=All Divisions&teamoffscheme=Any Scheme&teamdefalign=Any Alignment&oppoffscheme=Any Scheme&oppdefalign=Any Alignment&c1stat=choose&c1comp=gt&c2stat=choose&c2comp=gt&c3stat=choose&c3comp=gt&c4stat=choose&c4comp=gt&c5comp=choose&c5gtlt=lt&c6mult=1.0&c6comp=choose&orderby=game_date) to finish the year. That year they ended the final quarter of the season with victories to improve to 10-6. In 2007, they entered with a losing a record (5-7) and swapped it (9-7) to sneak in. 2012's magical run finished with a four-win sprint that began at 6-6. Last season, in a division that looks nothing like it does today, they turned around from 5-7 again, even clinching early in Week 16.
In every season in between, Washington mustered just one win to close out the year.
If you believe in trends and history repeating itself or some amalgamation of the two, then this should be promising. While Washington isn't fully able to control their own destiny, they do have a much better chance of winning the next four games than winning just one, which would put them at 10-5-1 on the season, a very reasonable record to expect making the playoffs.
Again, this binary that's occurred over the last 11 years doesn't have a very big sample size, but a loss like the one to the Cardinals on Sunday can have a refocusing effect that may help down the stretch run.
"I just want to make sure that we clean up some things and fix up some things and we're not out of the woods yet," head coach Jay Gruden said on Sunday. "We still have a long way to go but we have to take it one game at a time and take these next days of preparation for the Philadelphia Eagles very, very serious."
And, for what it's worth, the Redskins finished 2015 beating two NFC East opponents and the Bears in Chicago. They will finish 2016 playing two NFC East opponents and the Bears in Chicago. So, more good news!