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4 encouraging stats for Washington in NFC East division race

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With nine games left including three more division games, even sitting at 2-5, Washington has plenty of chances to take over the NFC East. 

How realistic is that? 

If Washington can win five of its next nine games, a division title seems quite realistic. Even if Washington can muster four wins of the next nine, things could be interesting. 

Regardless, Washington needs to stack wins. And there are some encouraging signs:

  1. Jack Del Rio’s defense has some clunkers on the season, but in the last two games before the bye the unit played lights out. In a Week 6 loss in New York and a Week 7 win over Dallas, Washington gave up fewer than 250 total offensive yards each week. That hasn’t happened in consecutive weeks since October 2009. 
  2. When Ron Rivera got hired as head coach back in January, he explained that his teams play better as the year goes on. Well, history supports that. In September and October, Rivera has a career record of 34-38-1. In November and December, Rivera’s career record jumps to 43-32. Remember that.
  3. In Washington’s first five games the defense gave up eight plays of 40-yards or more. Big play after big play, it got embarrassing. In the last two weeks, however, Washington only gave up one play of over 40-yards, and that was a fluky long run to Giants QB Daniel Jones in Week 6. 
  4. It’s unclear if Rivera made the right call to bench Dwayne Haskins, but one thing is obvious with Kyle Allen at the helm: Washington is able to sustain longer drives. In the first five weeks of the season, including Haskins’ four starts, the Washington offense only had seven drives with 10 or more plays. That’s awful, and highlights an inability to convert on third down. In their last two games, Washington has nine drives of 10 plays or more. In fact, Washington’s offense averaged about 55 percent conversion on third downs against the Giants and the Cowboys the last two weeks. 

Look, it's impossible to know if these stats will be relevant over the course of the Washington's last nine games this season. And it's hard to ignore how bad Washington's last two opponents were in skewing the recent stats too.

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But numbers are numbers. Trends are trends. The NFC East race is on.