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Redskins First In East, But December Is Crucial

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The Redskins are in first place in the NFC East entering December, but with five games remaining -- three against its division -- the team still has plenty of work left to do.

"We in the driver's seat. We got the keys to the car, nobody else, don't nobody need to help us," Ricky Jean Francois said on Sunday referring to the Redskins' first place standing in the NFC East. "We don't need five teams to lose and this one to win. It's in our hands. We can't fault nobody else but ourselves."

After the Redskins' 20-14 victory over the Giants on Sunday, Washington finds itself in first place in the NFC East through 12 weeks.

It's a position in which few thought the Redskins would be this year, as many thought it was the start of a rebuild for a team now constructed by first-year general manager Scot McCloughan. But that's not that the case right now.

At 5-6, the Redskins have the same record as the Giants, but with the tiebreaker, and three more division games ahead of them over the final five weeks, Washington has a chance to make the playoffs without having to worry about whether or not another team in the NFC East won or lost.

"It feels good being in the driver seat for once," Chris Baker said. "We just got to continue to stay focused and keep grinding in practice and when we get out our chance to come out and play just keep doing what we did [on Sunday]."

But while the Redskins are in a position to possibly earn their first playoff berth since 2012, a year in which they registered seven consecutive victories to end the season, they still are far from sealing up another appearance in the playoffs.

"Absolutely, but that don't mean nothing," Jason Hatcher said when asked about being excited about being in first place right now. "We just in the driver seat right now. We just got to continue winning games and driving in the car right into the playoffs. That's our goal. We got Dallas Monday night and that's our focus. We are not looking ahead at all. First place feels good but you got to stay there."

Monday night's game will be almost reverse situations for the Redskins and Cowboys from their Monday Night Football matchup last season when Washington pulled out an overtime victory over a Dallas team that was trying to prove they were among the league's best.

A look back at some of the top images in games between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys.

While Dallas is still in the NFC East race this season – just two games behind Washington and New York – they are without Tony Romo, who was the starting quarterback for their only three wins on the season.

And it is the Redskins who want to show a national audience that they can pull away in the NFC East.

"We just have to focus. We have to have extreme focus on our next opponent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "We have to study the tape, prepare extremely hard, practice well, practice hard, practice fast and get our minds ready to go for a Monday night game. There's no way around it. That's the only way you can do it is have consistent preparation and then hold these guys to a high standard out here at practice, make sure they're working hard."

With December football potentially translating to January football, the Redskins need to come out Monday with the same fire they had Sunday in downing the Giants. 

"If you're not hungry for the Cowboys coming in after a big win like today, we have a problem," Ryan Kerrigan said after the Giants game. "This is a big game for us. We haven't been able to string together a couple wins in a row but we have to now. We're playing December football now and it's good to have these December games be meaningful so this is going to be an exciting time."

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