With the regular season over, the Washington Football Team has emerged as the NFC East champs for the first time since 2015. Here's how Washington ranks among the other teams ahead of the Wild Card round of playoffs.
Dan Hanzus: "Ron Rivera said he won't apologize for winning on Sunday night. And why should he? Eagles coach Doug Pederson was kind enough to hand Washington the NFC East on a silver platter -- it would have been rude to refuse such a thoughtful gift. The competition won't be nearly so generous on Saturday Night, when Washington welcomes in a red-hot Bucs team led by Tom Brady in full crank-back-the-clock mode. Rivera knows his team stands no shot against Tampa Bay in a shootout, so this game will come down to Washington's fearsome front seven and whether it can make life hell for Brady. We've seen pressure foul up this Bucs attack before -- Washington might have the ingredients for a wild-card upset."
NFL Staff: "There will be plenty said this week about the Washington Football Team being underserving of a playoff spot at 7-9. But that record was good enough to win the NFC East and earn a postseason berth. After clinching that spot with a 20-14 road victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Washington head coach Ron Rivera said he intends to make it clear to his team that the journey isn't close to over yet.
"Spearheaded by a line loaded with first-round picks, Washington fielded the NFL's second-ranked defense and finished sixth in sacks with 47. But the Washington offense amassed the third-fewest yards per game this season and scored the eighth-fewest points per game. In Davenport's opinion, that's a big problem to overcome.
"'The last two teams to make the playoffs with a sub-.500 record won a postseason game, including a 2014 Panthers team coached by Ron Rivera," he said. "But those Panthers had a young Cam Newton. The 2010 Seahawks had a young Marshawn Lynch. This Washington team just doesn't have the horses on offense to start peeling off upsets. The season likely ends this weekend against Tampa.'"
Mike Florio: Washington's defense is good enough to compete with Tampa. The rest of the roster is not."
Pete Prisco: "Ron Rivera has this team in the playoffs, which makes him a coach-of-the-year candidate. With that defensive front, they could make life miserable for Tom Brady this week."
Vinnie Iyer: "Washington (7-9) lost more games than it won, but other than Arizona, no other NFC team could make a case it was worthy for the final spot. WFT has a strong defense led by rookie Chase Young and can't be sold short offensively with playmakers such as Terry McLaurin, Logan Thomas, Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic to help Alex Smith. That said, WFT is the longest of shots to get through a very tough NFC field, facing Brady's Buccaneers right off the bat. Smith is a seasoned playoff QB, but in the end, his resume doesn't come close to the veteran QB heavy hitters in the conference, led by 2005 first-round draft mate Rodgers."
MMQB Staff: "The Washington Football Team won perhaps the worst division in NFL history. Congratulations? Well, Ron Rivera won't apologize, and both he and Alex Smith deserve their moment on the postseason stage next weekend."
Nate Davis: "Much has been made of the feel-good elements from this locker room – and an underrated one is LB Thomas Davis' opportunity to cap his estimable career with a playoff squad."
Danny Kelly: "Washington is the worst and least balanced squad in the NFL's playoff field. But while it's difficult to see this Alex Smith–led offense making much noise against a tough Tampa Bay defense on Saturday, Washington does have a hounding, swarming defensive front. That group could make things just tough enough on Tom Brady and Co. to give the Football Team a chance to squeak out an ugly win.
"Washington's defensive line is led by rookie Chase Young, who's found his groove over the second half of the year and turned an already-good group into an elite one. Young notched a sack, recovered a fumble, and racked up seven quarterback pressures in the team's 20-14 win over the Eagles. The dynamic edge rusher spearheaded a unit that generated a 57.1 percent pressure rate on four-man pressure schemes in that game, good for the fourth-highest rate in a game by any defense this season, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. The book on beating Brady has long been to generate pressure with your front four and then hope for the best with seven-man coverage looks in the back end. Washington may be uniquely equipped to do just that."