Several weeks ago, it was inconceivable that the Washington Football Team could even consider a playoff run. They sported a 1-5 record and were mired in last place in the dreadful NFC East. How times have changed. Washington is currently in second place behind the New York Giants after securing their most significant victory in decades. Washington upset the previously undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers 23-17 on the road, handing the Steelers their first loss of the 2020 season. The victory was especially vindicating for Washington as they overcame a 14 point deficit to secure the victory against a stellar Steelers’ defense.
Such a victory would garner wall to wall praise for other franchises. In this case, the narrative is more focused on Pittsburgh’s circumstances surrounding this game. The Steelers had to play three games in 13 days due to several postponements of their previous home game with their AFC North rival, the Baltimore Ravens. Several Ravens’ players, including star quarterback Lamar Jackson, were infected with COVID-19. These infections caused the Ravens-Steelers’ game to become delayed several times. Pittsburgh entered the Washington game on only four days rest, while Washington had 12 days to prepare for the game.
These mitigating circumstances shouldn’t detract from Washington’s surprising victory. They took advantage of the opportunity presented to them and turned it into victory. Washington sports an identical 5-7 record to the Giants, which puts them in prime position to win the NFC East. However, New York owns the head to head tiebreaker with Washington due to sweeping the season series.
Washington’s next opponent is the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers represented the NFC in the Super Bowl last season. 2020 hasn’t been kind to San Francisco, as the franchise also sports a 5-7 record. The 49ers are playing without three key starters due to injury. Quarterback Jimmy Garropolo, tight end George Kittle, and defensive lineman Nick Bosa all sustained season ending injuries that have contributed to the 49ers’ poor record. A diminished 49ers’ team provides a golden opportunity for Washington to win their four consecutive game and keep their playoff hopes alive.