Do the Washington Redskins really have anything to play for in Sunday’s season-ender at the New York Giants?
“I know 8-8 isn’t 13-3,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said, “but it also isn’t 7-9.”
The real truth is five minutes after the game, it’s forgotten. By players, coaches and fans. The record will be an afterthought, so it doesn’t really matter if the Redskins win. Maybe a tick or two in the coming draft order is altered, but aside a little personal pride and some historical notes, the game is irrelevant because neither team is heading to the postseason.
Ironically, the Giants might have more incentive to win – and lose – this game. Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins isn’t the only one staring into 2018 wondering where he’ll play. It could be Giants quarterback Eli Manning’s final game after 14 seasons in New York. That means teammates might rally, trying to send the two-time Super Bowl winner off with a victory.
But then, New York was hammered by Arizona 23-0 on Christmas Eve, so the fight seems to have long left the Giants. New York is 2-13. They can’t get the first pick from Cleveland (0-15), but a victory could cost them the second selection to Indianapolis (3-12). Not that Indianapolis would take a quarterback, but it might trade the pick to someone that will, so if New York wants to draft Manning’s successor, a loss is preferable.
Finishing the season on a three-game winning streak could provide some false hope for Washington fans. The truth is the Redskins roster could be radically different next season, to make this fast finish more irrelevant than San Francisco’s recent four straight victories.
Aside Cousins’ fate, Washington is looking to revamp its receivers, running backs, offensive line and every phase of the defense. Finding a dedicated returner would be a big plus, too.
More than half of the 53 men who exit the locker room on Sunday won’t be on the roster come 2018’s opening day. They’ll look back on this season without focusing too much on the finale. After all, it will quickly become last year.
Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.