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Redskins Represent NFL Postseason Parity


The Redskins' resurgence is one of the top stories of the 2012 NFL season, riding a seven-game winning streak to their first postseason appearance in five years.

One year removed from a 5-11 season, the Redskins stand at 10-6, preparing to host their first playoff game since 1999.

After finishing in fourth place in 2011, the Redskins pulled off their first worst-to-first run in franchise history.

And yes as sensational as this turnaround may appear, it is neither surprising nor unexpected. Given the parity of talent in today's NFL, any team is capable of claiming one of the 12 playoff slots in any given season.

This is one of the reasons that the Redskins were able to attract top talent in free agency, including the retention of defensive captain London Fletcher.

"It sounds great, it feels great," Fletcher said of being NFC East Champions. "This group of men did the improbable. Not a lot of people thought we'd be able to accomplish this at 3-6."

Since 1990, the Redskins are just the fourth team to earn a playoff berth after opening the season 3-6. Washington is the first 3-6 team to do so since the 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars.

Since the divisional realignment in 2002, the NFL has averaged six new teams in the postseason each year from the previous year's field.

That number has trended downward from a high of eight new teams in 2002 to a low of just four in 2012: the Redskins, Colts, Seahawks and Vikings.

Of those, the Redskins are the only team guaranteed to host a playoff game.

As quarterback Robert Griffin III said repeatedly this season, "Players Play," much of the credit goes to head coach Mike Shanahan and the Redskins' front office for a series of shrewd offseason acquisitions.

The 30 players drafted and signed by the Redskins in 2012 accounted for 76 starts this season. The 58 players on the roster that have been added under head coach Mike Shanahan accounted for 268 of the team's 352 starts this season.

"I think the credit goes to Coach Shanahan and the way he laid out the plan for us," Fletcher said. "The way he said 'Hey guys this is what we have to do to get into the playoffs.'

"It starts with our leader and it trickled down throughout the team and guys just took the approach one game at a time."

The current Redskins roster is younger than at any point in recent history, but for players like Fletcher, this could be the last playoff run of his illustrious career.

If that is the case, Fletcher is ready for Sunday and has confidence that he can help lead his teammates to victory.

"I've been around so long. I'm already thinking about how we have a tough game next weekend," Fletcher said. "We're not finished yet, but to do what we were able to do, I'm really at a loss of words.

"I'm just so proud of  this group of men."




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