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When you think of influential NFL franchises, the Washington Football Team probably doesn’t jump to the front of your mind. In recent years, the team has been involved with more controversies than deep playoff runs. With the 2020 regular season winding down, though, Ron Rivera’s squad is in a pretty important position.

Although the NFC East has been pretty weak as of late, one of the four teams does have to qualify for the playoffs. Come Week 17, the Washington Football Team will hold the fate of the entire division in their collective hands.

The Washington Football Team hasn’t had the best 2020

On the whole, 2020 wasn’t an easy year for anyone. That was also true for the Washington Football Team.

Before the games even began, the franchise underwent plenty of changes. On New Year’s Day, Ron Rivera took over as head coach and immediately began trying to repair a damaged organizational culture. Then, following the death of George Floyd, the franchise finally dropped its ‘Redskins’ name and became the Washington Football Team. While the change was long overdue, it probably wasn’t what Rivera imagined he’d be wrapped up in after only a few months on the job.

Once the season kicked off, things continued to be a mixed bag. While there were some highlights, like Alex Smith returning to action after he could have lost his leg and a nice four-game winning streak, things still were far from perfect; Washington fell out with—and eventually cut—Dwayne Haskins and, heading into Week 17, sit at 6-9.

With all of that being said, though, there is a silver lining to the season: the Washington Football Team plays in the NFC East.

The entire NFC East continues to struggle

While things didn’t go perfectly for the Washington Football Team in 2020, they weren’t alone. If anything, the entire NFC East struggled.

The Dallas Cowboys, of course, entered the season with high expectations; even if Dak Prescott wasn’t signed to a long-term deal and Mike McCarthy wasn’t a world-beating head coach, America’s Team still should have had enough talent to win the division. That, of course, didn’t happen. The team’s defense started the year in awful form, Prescott suffered a season-ending injury, and McCarthy briefly seemed to lose control of their locker room.

On the east coast, things didn’t go much better. The Philadelphia Eagles offense never got off the ground; while it wasn’t entirely his fault, Carson Wentz ended up losing the starting job to Jalen Hurts. In New York, the Giants lost Saquon Barkley to a torn ACL and, despite some preseason optimism, still posted a sub-.500 record.

The Washington Football Team controls the NFC East’s destiny in Week 17


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Despite (or due to) those overall struggles, three of the four NFC East teams can still make the NFL playoffs. Come Week 17, though, everything comes down to the Washington Football Team.

While they weren’t exactly world-beaters this season, Washington holds the fate of the division in their hands. If they win their Sunday Night Football matchup against the Eagles, that closes the book on the NFC East; the Washington Football Team, sitting at 7-9, will make the playoffs.

Should Ron Rivera’s men lose, though, their season will end on Sunday night. Barring a tie—which will make things a little more complicated—a Washington loss will hand the winner of the Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants game a playoff berth.

2020 was a tough year for just about everyone, including the Washington Football Team. Entering Week 17, though, they’ll control their own destiny, not to mention the fate of the entire NFC East.