A Redskins victory vs. Panthers means Obama wins, loss means Romney wins

The man in the middle might have a big impact on whether the guy on the left or the guy on the right wins the presidency. (US Presswire)

The Redskins-Panthers game this Sunday could have quite an impact on Washington’s chances in the NFC East while potentially breaking Carolina’s season for good. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see if President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney keep tabs on the game as well.

That’s because the Redskins, in their final home game before voters cast their ballots, have become quite a predictor for presidential elections.

In 17 of the 18 contests in which the Redskins suited up before an election -- beginning in 1940 when the Redskins beat the Steelers and Franklin D. Roosevelt kept his presidency by vanquishing Wendell Willkie -- a Washington victory at home has signaled the incumbent party would keep the White House while a defeat has meant the opposite.

It’s called the Redskins Rule, and it’s fascinating.

The only variation in this rule from the past 72 years occurred in 2004 when the Packers beat the Redskins 28-14, which predicted that John Kerry would knock George W. Bush out of his job. That didn’t happen, and the man who discovered the Redskins Rule has figured out a variation.

“I went back and studied the ‘Redskins Rule’ data and what happened in 2004 was explained in 2000,” Steve Hirdt, executive vice-president of Elias Sports Bureau, told ESPN’s Front Row. “Because Al Gore actually won the popular vote in 2000 -- but lost in the Electoral College -- it reversed the polarity of the subsequent election. The opposite of the usual ‘Redskins Rule’ was true.

“Redskins Rule 2.0 established that when the popular vote winner does not win the election, the impact of the Redskins game on the subsequent presidential election gets flipped. So, with that, the Redskins’ loss in 2004 signaled that the incumbent would remain in the White House.”

Luckily, order in the Redskins Rule was restored in 2008 when the Steelers easily knocked off the Redskins, allowing the opposing party to beat the incumbent.

So, when the Redskins and Panthers kick off this week, you can bet that Obama will be cheering hard for Washington and Romney will be praying Cam Newton finds last year’s form. Unfortunately for Romney, six of the nine CBSSports.com expert pickers have selected the Redskins to win (though if it’s any consolation, five of the eight are picking Carolina on points).

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Josh Katzowitz on Twitter here: @joshkatzowitz.

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