The Washington Football Team only has to win one of its last two regular-season games to eliminate the Dallas Cowboys from playoff contention in 2020. But with uncertainty swirling around their quarterbacks right now, Washington is allowing Cowboys fans to find new hope in a potential postseason appearance.
The Football Team's success this year has been heavily affected by the availability of Alex Smith at quarterback. Washington is 4-2 with Smith as starting QB and 2-6 with either Dwayne Haskins or Kyle Allen atop the depth chart.
Smith had the Team That Plays Football on a four-game winning streak prior to missing last week's matchup with the Seattle Seahawks with a calf injury. Haskins got back in the starting lineup and Washington got back to losing.
Now Haskins may be ineligible to play this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers after evidence has surfaced that he was violating COVID-19 protocols by going to a strip club unmasked following the Seattle game. There is no official word yet on his status.
Alex Smith's return from the calf injury, while reasonably hoped for, is not confirmed yet either. That could leave Washington with journeyman Taylor Heinicke or undrafted rookie Steven Montez as their only QBs for Ron Rivera's revenge date with the Panthers.
The Cowboys went into these final weeks of 2020 with little chance of catching up to Washington. They were down two games in the overall standings and then a third thanks to the Football Team's head-to-head tiebreaker from sweeping Dallas in their games this year. The Cowboys (5-9) have to finish a game better than Washington (6-8) to clinch the NFC East.
But last week saw those odds improve; Washington fell to Seattle and the Cowboys got a win against the 49ers. Strung with their Week 14 win over the Bengals it gave Dallas their first back-to-back wins of 2020 and some momentum heading into this Sunday's showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Of course, the hope train may still get derailed easily this weekend. It's not like 2020 has been the Cowboys' year for good fortune.
Dallas could easily drop their game with Philly now that Jalen Hurts is thriving as the new starting quarterback. And even if the Cowboys pull off the victory, Alex Smith's return could get Washington back on track and finish off Dallas' playoffs chances another way.
But as of now we don't know who will start at QB for Washington. hope is still alive and growing in one of the most depressing Cowboys seasons in recent history. We'll see how far the fantasy can go.