Unless you’re an alien from outer space, you probably know by now that Alex Smith’s comeback story is probably the greatest one in NFL history. In fact, it might be one of the greatest comeback stories in the entire history of sports.
Alex Smith was never supposed to play football again after getting sacked during a 2017 game against the Houston Texans, and there was a solid chance that his doctors might’ve had to amputate his injured right leg. In fact, there was a slight chance that Smith could’ve even died if the medical staff couldn’t stop his infection in time.
The mere fact that the former Pro Bowler still has two working legs is incredible, much less the fact that his Washington Football Team is currently tied for first place in the NFC East.
Can Alex Smith Lead the Washington Football Team to a Playoff Win?
Now…Back to Reality
Yes, I know that the New York Giants and WFT are both 4-7, but that’s immaterial at this point. The mere fact that Smith is playing quarterback at a high level again is simply remarkable, and a first-place finish in the NFC Least would certainly be another gold star on his already-impressive resume.
So can the Washington Football Team win a playoff game? How about two games? Or how about an appearance in Super Bowl LV?
Let’s push the brakes on a potential return to the Super Bowl for Dan Snyder’s NFL franchise. Then again, Washington’s professional football team is better than you think. Here’s why:
First of all, Washington has played the majority of its games with either Dwayne Haskins or Kyle Allen under center. I’m still not officially done with Haskins as a potential franchise signal-caller, but when a very respected head coach like Riverboat Ron Rivera puts you in the doghouse, it’s not a good sign when it comes to your career trajectory. As for Allen? He’s basically just a solid backup quarterback: Nothing more and nothing less.
Secondly, Smith’s numbers have mostly been very good this season. His only dud performance was against the Los Angeles Rams, but that was also coming off the bench against a Rams team that only allowed Allen to pass for 74 total yards on the day. That Rams team was in a humongous groove, much like they’ve done all season, so I don’t see any backup quarterback succeeding in such a no-win situation like Smith encountered.
In case you’re wondering about how well Washington has performed with Smith as the new starting quarterback, here are some basic stats to mull over in your brain:
Alex Smith is now 8-5 during his career as Washington’s starter. Since Joe Gibbs retired in 2008, he’s the only W-F-T starting quarterback to have a winning record. This is a very small sample size, but it still shows you how Smith always wins wherever he plays, regardless of the circumstances. If you think this statistic doesn’t matter, think about this: Since the Washington Football Team traded for AS-11, they’re 6-24 whenever anybody other than the former 49ers and Chiefs quarterback starts in a professional football game.
Is the Washington Football Team That Much Better with Alex Smith Under Center?
But is the Washington Football Team actually moving the ball down the field with Smith under center? Well, the answer to that question is a little bit of yes-and-no. The “yes” part adheres to his excellent games against New York and Detroit, especially the Detroit game where he threw for almost 400 yards and almost single-handedly led his team back from a 24-3 deficit.
The “no” part has been his last two games. Smith has thrown for under 200 yards during their two wins against Cincinnati and Dallas, with most of his throws going to Terry McLaurin. McLaurin’s receiving yards have been over 50 percent of their entire passing offense the past two games, which includes about 62 percent of the completions during the Thanksgiving blowout victory against Dallas.
Some of these passing yards have to do with McLaurin being an underrated wide receiver that is hard to guard, but it also has to do with Smith not trusting anyone besides McLaurin. We’ll see how that strategy works against the Pittsburgh Steelers defense. I don’t expect Washington to beat Mike Tomlin’s Steelers, but we’ll see. I’d still like to see how the Comeback Player of the Year performs against the NFL’s best defensive unit.
What Happens After a Loss to the Steelers?
But let’s say Washington loses to Pittsburgh. They would now be 4-8, and even though they lost the head-to-head tiebreaker to the Giants, I still see them making the playoffs at 7-9. A 6-10 finish would be a stretch to win the division since the Eagles have a tie on their record, but who knows? Perhaps the Eagles would completely collapse and finish 2020 with a record of 5-10-1 or worse.
Washington would then win the NFC East and have a Wild Card home game. It’s still technically a home game since 3,000+ fans would be in attendance, and although people hate Snyder and the human resources scandal that unfolded, it’s hard to not want to root for a team led by the always-professional Alex Smith.
Who would Washington play in that four versus five matchup? As of early December, it would be the LA Rams, but a lot can happen between now and January. The 7-4 Rams are followed closely by the 7-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 6-5 Arizona Cardinals. I highly doubt that any of the current 5-6 teams (Bears, Vikings, and 49ers) would sneak into the number five spot, but crazier things have happened in NFL history.
Who’s the Best Matchup for the Washington Football Team?
In my opinion, the best matchup for Washington is the Bucs. They’re reeling right now, and it’s no secret that they haven’t been the same team since acquiring Antonio Brown. As a player, Brown definitely doesn’t look like the former best-in-the-game wideout that he used to be in Pittsburgh, and as a guy, well, the sexual assault and burglary charges are part of his off-the-field issues.
Of course, not everything can be blamed on Brown being a locker room cancer who always demands the ball, but it is important to note that Tom Brady has really struggled since AB became part of the team. Can some of Brady’s recent deep ball struggles be blamed on AB? In short? Yes. AB was a great deep threat during his prime in Pittsburgh, and Brady reportedly pleaded for head coach Bruce Arians to try to make it work with AB-81 in Tampa Bay (although he denies it). It certainly hasn’t worked in Tampa since AB came to town, and if the Bucs don’t at least finish 3-1 down the stretch, they could easily miss out on the playoffs entirely.
Now there’s still a chance that the Arizona Cardinals receive the five-seed for the postseason, but I actually think the Cardinals are a bigger threat to beat Washington than the Seattle Seahawks. For starters, Kyler Murray is younger and more athletic than Russell Wilson. And in addition to that, the Seattle defense has mostly been one of the worst I’ve ever seen. If you don’t know what I mean, make sure to check out Brett Kollman’s take on why the Seattle defense has sucked so badly for most of the season.
I actually slightly trust Arizona’s defense right now more than Seattle. And even though some people have nicknamed Jared Goff “Jared Goof,” I still trust in Sean McVay to get it done on the road against a below-.500 Washington team. As such, the Rams would probably be a terrible matchup for the Washington Football Team.
How Far Can Alex Smith Lead the Washington Football Team?
So to answer your first question, Washington can win a playoff game, but they most likely want to see the Bucs in the first round. It would obviously be nice if the Vikings, 49ers, or Bears won their remaining five games to finish at 10-6 and get the five-seed, but I definitely don’t see that happening. As it currently stands, the Rams would play Washington in Round 1. Smith has looked fine in his last two games but certainly not MVP caliber, and when you’re going up against Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, and this very tough Rams defense, you need to be able to throw in tight windows.
And although Rivera will certainly try to learn from his mistakes the last time his team played against McVay’s Rams, I just don’t see Washington being able to score 27 points on that defense. But perhaps I’m wrong. The Washington defensive line is very solid since every player is a former first-round pick, so there’s a slight chance that they could beat LA in an old-fashioned defensive battle.
As for winning two or even three games during the postseason? You’ve definitely entered fairytale land. It would take everything to go right for Washington to get into the NFC Championship Game. Remember, the number one seed plays the lowest-seeded team in the playoffs, so it would definitely behoove Washington for Arizona to upset Seattle and then face New Orleans during the divisional round. A Tampa Bay Bucs upset over the third-seeded Green Bay Packers would see Washington host ANOTHER playoff game, this time against Brady’s Bucs. But like I said before, that would be nuts: two NFC upsets happening in one Wild Card weekend? Not probable.
So to sum it up, Washington can win a playoff game. Will they win one? If I was a betting man, naw. How about two or even three playoff games? Unless you’re willing to make a 50-to-1 bet, don’t count on it. As the famous movie once said, “Any Given Sunday.” But unless the stars align for Smith, don’t expect the Washington Football Team to make a deep playoff run. But that doesn’t really matter for Alex Smith. Him playing football again is something I want to watch every Sunday.