The Washington Football Team went 7-9 in the regular season. All the stats, scores and results back up that statement.
However, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians sees them with a different win-loss total.
"We don’t see them as a 7-9 team, we see them as a 4-1 team," Arians said on Tuesday ahead of the team's Wild Card matchup on Saturday.
Why does Arians' record only reflect five games in Washington's campaign rather than 16? It has everything to do with who has been under center when the team is at its best.
"Because every time Alex Smith has played, they went 4-1 and had a plus-three turnover margin," Arians said. "So it’s a different team when Alex is playing and we know that. We’re playing that 4-1 team not that 7-9 team.”
Washington is actually 5-1 with Smith as the starter, but Arians may not be counting the game that Dwyane Haskins finished after Smith exited with a calf injury.
Still, that assessment of Washington with Smith at quarterback is correct, not just for 2020, but for his entire career in the Burgundy and Gold. Washington is 11-5 in games started by Alex Smith, and just 6-26 without him. There's a clear difference in what the team looks like with him under center when he's healthy.
Therefore, Arians doesn't view Washington as a 7-9 team that looks out of place in the playoffs, but rather a one-loss team that has every chance to win on Saturday. Taking them lightly is not something he'll do.
Additionally, Arians doesn't fully buy the notion that Washington will come out feeling like there is nothing to lose after Ron Rivera stated that the team is playing with "house money." He understands that Washington may be ahead of schedule and not many expected them to be there, but that doesn't change what's a stake.
One team's season comes to an end Saturday, and neither wants it to be them.
“They got a lot to lose," Arians said.