The Washington Times - September 17, 2011, 08:51PM

You don’t usually think of Week 2 as a fork in the road in the NFL, but for the Redskins it might be. Historically, the difference between starting 2-0 and starting 1-1 has been huge for them as far as their playoff prospects are concerned. Who knows? That might be one of the reasons they decided to report to work on Victory Monday after beating the Giants (instead of basking in the glow of their victory). Now they just have to find their way past the Cardinals on Sunday at FedEx Field.

If they can, the benefits could be great. Consider:


● Since the 1970 merger, the Redskins have been 2-0 11 times, 1-1 23 times and 0-2 seven times. (Surprising, isn’t it, that they’ve been 2-0 that seldom, given the success of Joe Gibbs and George Allen?)

● Eight of the 11 seasons they won their first two games (72.7 percent), they went to the playoffs. Twice, moreover, they won the Super Bowl (1982, 1991), another year they reached the Super Bowl (1972) and another year they made it to the NFC title game (1986).

● When they began the season 1-1, on the other hand, they qualified for the playoffs only seven of 23 times (30.4 percent). They did play in two Super Bowls, though, winning one (1987) and losing the other (1983).

● As for the seven Redskins teams that started 0-2, just one (14.3 percent) advanced to the playoffs (the 1984 club, which lost at home to the Bears in the first round).

To recap:

2-0  start: 72.7 percent of the teams made the playoffs.

1-1 start: 30.4 percent made it.

0-2 start: 14.3 percent made it.

Obviously, not all 2-0 starts are created equal. And let’s face it, the Giants (banged up as they are) and the Cardinals (who gave up 422 yards passing in their opener) hardly look like the iron of the league. Still, two wins to begin the season might lead to something much bigger for the Redskins. It certainly has, often enough, before.

2-0 Starts for the Redskins Since the 1970 Merger

Year (Regular Season Record) – Result

1971 (9-4-1) – Wild card. Lost in first round of playoffs.

1972 (11-3) – Division champs. Lost Super Bowl.

1975 (8-6) – Missed playoffs.

1976 (10-4) – Wild card. Lost in first round of playoffs.

1978 (8-8) – Missed playoffs.

1982 (8-1) – Best record in NFC. Won Super Bowl.

1986 (12-4) – Wild card. Lost NFC title game.

1991 (14-2) – Division champs. Won Super Bowl.

2003 (5-11) – Missed playoffs (after which Steve Spurrier resigned as coach).

2005 (10-6) – Wild card. Lost in second round of playoffs.

2007 (9-7) – Wild card. Lost in first round of playoffs.