It certainly has been a trying year for Washington Football Team fans. After all, the franchise has been mired in a number of controversies, including a sexual harassment scandal that raised major concerns about Dan Snyder’s ability to run a competent organization.
To make matters worse, the first season of the Ron Rivera era started out about as badly as possible. But after watching their team lose five straight games, Washington fans have finally had something to cheer about in recent weeks.
However, on Friday, Snyder made a major change that won’t sit well with his fan base.
A recent turnaround has put the Washington Football Team in the playoff hunt
After an offseason that saw the franchise undergo a massive facelift, the Washington Football Team entered the season with an opportunity for a fresh start. However, the first month or so featured plenty of disappointing performances.
Ron Rivera may have started his tenure off with a win, but his team dropped its next five games. Four of those losses came by at least double-digits.
Before their bye, though, Washington beat the Dallas Cowboys in convincing fashion. The 25-3 victory represented a big-time momentum boost heading into their off week.
But after dropping close games to the New York Giants and the Detroit Lions, Washington appeared to be all but finished. Yet, Alex Smith has led his team to three straight wins, including a shocking upset against the previously-undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday.
At 5-7, Washington currently sits in first place in the NFC East. And while their fans have had plenty to cheer about in recent weeks, those loyal followers won’t be happy about Dan Snyder’s latest major change.
Fans won’t be happy with Dan Snyder’s latest major change
It’s no secret that COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on the 2020 NFL season. The New England Patriots lost a league-high eight players to the COVID opt-out policy. Numerous players, coaches, and team personnel have tested positive for the coronavirus through the first 13 weeks of the season. And for many teams, home games have come without fans present.
Luckily for Washington Football Team fans, that has not been the case. But with COVID-19 numbers rising, Dan Snyder has made a major change to the franchise’s attendance policy. And let’s just say the team’s fan base won’t be pleased with the decision.
“After careful consideration and close coordination with Prince George’s County health officials, the Washington Football Team has made the difficult decision to play the remainder of our 2020 games without fans in attendance,” the team announced in a statement.
“We will miss the unbridled passion of our fanbase at FedEx Field as we take on the Seattle Seahawks on December 20th and the Carolina Panthers on December 27th, but we must remain diligent in protecting our staff, players, fans, and the community as the region continues to fight against COVID-19.”
The timing couldn’t be worse for Washington football fans. While the team has a road game this week, Washington returns home for two pivotal matchups that will have major playoff implications. But without fans in the stands, can Alex Smith and Co. defend FedEx Field in order to remain atop the NFC East?
Can Washington still win the NFC East without fans in the stands?
With both the New York Giants and the Washington Football Team turning their seasons around, the battle for the NFC East will surely come down to the wire.
On paper, the Giants have a more difficult remaining schedule:
- Week 14 – vs. Arizona
- Week 15 – vs. Cleveland
- Week 16 – at Baltimore
- Week 17 – vs. Dallas
Cleveland and Baltimore should both make the playoffs in the AFC. Arizona has not looked impressive in recent weeks, but the Cardinals still possess plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. Ultimately, the Cowboys game could make the difference between the Giants making the postseason or watching from home.
Meanwhile, Washington has a slightly more manageable slate of upcoming opponents:
- Week 14 – at San Francisco
- Week 15 – vs. Seattle
- Week 16 – vs. Carolina
- Week 17 – at Philadelphia
Out of those four teams, the Seahawks are the only playoff lock. San Francisco remains in the mix for a wild card spot, which makes this week’s game particularly important.
Ultimately, the season will likely come down to Washington’s ability to handle business at home. But can Washington’s eighth-ranked scoring defense slow down Russell Wilson and Seattle’s potent passing attack before hosting Teddy Bridgewater and the Panthers?
Without fans in the stands, that mission will surely be more difficult. But if Washington keeps playing well, their fans may just have a chance to cheer on their team in the postseason after all.