Ten wins still will get the Washington Redskins into the NFL playoffs.
I'm not going to go into a lot of detail because nothing substantial has changed from last week. I'm also not going to address whether or not the Redskins can get to 10 wins given the way they have been playing over the past couple of months. That's certainly is debatable and it will be covered in this blog but not in this article. But here's the picture.
ATL 8-5: TB @MIN STL
DAL 8-5: NYG BAL @PHI
PHI 7-5-1 CLE @WAS DAL
WAS 7-6: @CIN PHI @SF
I've taken out the Bucs and Panthers as it appears certain that one of them will win the NFC South and the other will be the top Wild Card. I've added the Eagles to the mix after their improbable win over the Giants has put them ahead of the Redskins.
However, the Eagles don't really matter in the picture when it comes to the Redskins because they play the Redskins. Washington has to win that game in order to get to 10 wins. If the Redskins do win, the Eagles can't win more than nine games.
No question, the Cowboys and Falcons could win out, get to 11-5 and lock out the Redskins. Looking at their schedules that appears unlikely, but the Redskins don't control their own destiny.
Let's say that Dallas and Atlanta both finish 2-1. One more loss would give Atlanta five NFC losses; the Redskins have four. That means that the Redskins have that tiebreaker.
The situation with Dallas is a little less clear cut. If they Cowboys lose to either the Giants or the Eagles they would finish 3-3 in the division, the same as a 10-6 Redskins team would be. It then would come down to record in common games. I haven't triple checked this, but if the Cowboys beat the Ravens that tiebreaker will be even. It then comes down to conference record and Dallas would have five conference losses and Washington would have four.
But if they beat both of those teams and lose to the Ravens they would be 4-2 in the NFC East and would go into the playoffs instead of the Redskins.
Look at it this way. If the Redskins beat the Bengals on Sunday—and I don't believe that this team is so bad that it can't accomplish that—and the Bucs beat the Falcons and Dallas loses to the Giants, the Redskins are then in a three-way tie for the Wild Card holding the tiebreaker advantage. The Eagles could move ahead of them by a half game with a win over the Browns on Monday night but that sets up Philadelphia at Washington the next Sunday for the Wild Card lead.
Again, the Redskins have plenty of issues and winning three in a row seems unlikely. The biggest obstacle appears to be the Eagles, who are the type of physical team that has been giving the Redskins fits. But if they can turn things around, something that is not unusual in the NFL in general or for this team in particular, they have the chance to keep playing in January.
One more thing: Yahoo! has a playoff scenario generator that's pretty cool to play around with. You can change the result of any game and see what it does to the postseason picture. If you go to their default setting, which is their rankings, go to Week 16 and change the result of the Washington-Philly game to a Redskins win, you'll see the Skins appear as the sixth seed. You also can play with any other scenario you'd like or have the results predicted in different ways.