With the NFC East currently messier than the plot of a Quentin Tarantino movie, it's easy to see a scenario where the division's winner sneaks into the playoffs with a, uh, less than pleasant record.
The 5-7 Redskins currently sit atop of the standings but are barely hanging on, as the 5-7 Giants, 5-7 Eagles and, somehow, 4-8 Cowboys are all still in the hunt as well. And considering how the winner of the tight race will probably be a heavy underdog in the postseason and may join the list of most mediocre teams ever to make it there, some people have begun to question whether there's any point for these groups to be fighting so hard for a playoff berth at all.
But when he was asked about whether playing meaningful games in January would matter for the Redskins — even if they'd be doing so with a win-loss record that'll likely pale in comparison to every other NFC contender — Santana Moss was vehement in his stance.
"A playoff berth means everything," the former Washington wideout said in a lengthy interview with CSNMA. "Forget what someone says, how they got in. I’ve seen plenty of teams get in like that, and those teams went far."
Few franchises better back up Moss' thought process than the Giants. They've won two titles since 2007, and both times, they didn't necessarily have a stellar record; they simply played really good football down the stretch. That's a team that has made an impression on the NFL veteran.
"I remember two of the years that stick out in the back of my head was when the Giants had a crappy year then found a way to get in, and go to the Super Bowl," he said. "That year, that first year they got in, we kicked their behind at home. So I’m sitting here like, ‘Man it don’t matter.’ I think when you get hot, you get hot, take advantage of it."
Moss also has firsthand experience in this type of situation — the three times he made it to the playoffs with the Burgundy and Gold, they finished the season out incredibly strong. And according to him, a big reason why those editions of the Redskins were able to achieve that was because they practiced hard against each other in December and had a very competitive environment around their facilities.
With reports coming out of this year's end-of-season practices indicating that Jay Gruden and veteran players like Dashon Goldson and DeAngelo Hall have been maintaining a similar level of fire during the week, it sounds like the 2015 'Skins are hungry to taste the playoffs, too, no matter what their win-loss ratio is after 17 weeks. That's because, like Moss, they know once the postseason starts, every team has the same record, and anything can happen after that.
All you have to do is get there and give yourself a chance.