The End Of The Washington Redskins' Season: Testing The Myth Of The Carryover Win

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 11: London Fletcher #59 of the Washington Redskins celebrates after a sack against the New York Giants season-opening game at FedEx Field on September 11, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Does the momentum generated from late-season wins actually carry over into the following season? Or would the Redskins be better suited to just tank the rest of 2011 in hopes of improving their draft stock? We did some research to find out.

For some strange reason, the Washington Redskins beat the New York Giants in the opening game of the 2011 season.

If you were to survey 100 football fans - Family Feud style - to inquire about the main reason how the Redskins managed to beat the team that is now leading the NFC East, you might receive the following answers, in roughly the most popular order:

  1. Because the Giants had suffered a ton of injuries to key defensive players during the preseason
  2. Because the Redskins had far fewer injuries
  3. Because the Redskins got lucky
  4. Because Rex Grossman had his best game of the season
  5. Because Ryan Kerrigan is a freakin' beast
  6. Because the NFC East is perennially overrated and no team is truly better than the next

Hey wait. There's one supposedly possible reason that was left off the list. The carryover win.

After the Redskins beat the Giants in Week 1, no one was claiming that the momentum resulting from the Redskins' win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 16 last year had anything to do with it. And yet hundreds of Redskins fans are currently clamoring that the team needs to win as many of its remaining games as possible in order to have momentum heading into next season.

The carryover win is a complete farce, right? It's something that teams will use to justify the fight for wins at the end of a lost season. By definition, the carryover win is something that only losers root for.

But does the carryover win actually exist? To put the theory to the test, let's take a look at the teams that missed the playoffs in 2010, but still won the final week of the season. That list is the following teams: the Oakland Raiders, Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys, San Diego Chargers, and San Francisco 49ers. Hmm... That's actually a pretty good list. Five out of seven of those teams are above .500. All but the Bucs are still in playoff contention.

Looking at the other side of the coin, you see exactly what you might expect. Of the 10 teams that missed the playoffs in 2010 and also lost in Week 17, only one team has a winning record: the Cincinnati Bengals.

So this carryover win thing ... Maybe there's actually something to it. Maybe, rather than tanking the rest of the season (or use the rest of the season to "evaluate" the bottom half of the roster), the Redskins should be looking to do everything they can to win out. Maybe the surest path towards future success isn't drafting a quarterback fourth overall. Maybe its actually gaining momentum, playing as a team, and learning what it feels like to win.

The Redskins meet the Giants again this Sunday, but this time the teams are going in complete opposite directions. The Giants are fresh off a thrilling comeback win over Dallas in Cowboy Stadium on Sunday night, while the Redskins fell in exciting fashion to the New England Patriots for their eighth loss in nine games. Watching the Redskins lose close games to good teams is just fine for some. It improves Washington’s draft position, while still providing plenty of viewing entertainment.

But instead of rooting for close losses while salivating at the possibility of drafting Robert Griffin III or Matt Barkley on #042612, recent history shows that Redskins fans should still be rooting for their team to rack up a few meaningless late-season wins. The carryover win is for real.

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