You see the headlines that the Redskins are in first place in the NFC East. That is not technically true. They are in a three-way tie for first place and as of right now they hold the tiebreaker advantage. However, those tiebreaker advantages are not locked in.
But that is really a matter of semantics. The Redskins’ playoff destiny is in their own hands and that is what really matters.
Here is an updated look at the Redskins’ playoff possibilities:
Here is the current picture in the NFC East.
Team-record-division record-remaining games
Redskins 8-6, 3-1, @ Eagles, Cowboys
Cowboys 8-6, 3-2, Saints, @ Redskins
Giants 8-6, 2-3, @ Ravens, Eagles
If the Redskins win out, the Cowboys will be at least one game behind because Washington will have beaten them. And if the Giants also win out, the Redskins will take the division based on a better division record.
That part is simple. It gets complicated if the Redskins trip up and lose a game.
If the Redskins lose to the Eagles, they will still have a shot at the division. They would need for the Giants to drop one of their two last games and to beat Dallas. Assuming the Cowboys beat the Saints, all three teams would be 9-7. The Redskins would be 3-1 against the other two teams, the Cowboys 1-3 and New York 2-2, giving Washington the head to head tiebreaker.
If just the Cowboys and Redskins are 9-7 the Redskins would win the tiebreakers based on the head to head sweep. Washington would beat out New York in a two-team tiebreaker with a better division record.
If the Redskins beat the Eagles and lose to the Cowboys, they will have to hope they can take a wild card even if they Cowboys lose to the Saints. The teams would both be 9-7, tied head to head and would have 4-2 division marks. The next tiebreaker is record in common games.
The teams have 12 common games (Giants X 2, Eagles X 2, Falcons, Saints, Panthers, Bucs, Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Browns). The Cowboys have eight wins against those teams with one to play and the Redskins have six with one to play. Dallas has that tiebreaker clinched.
The Giants, of course, would have the Redskins fighting for a wild card if they win out and Washington splits its last two.
For the sake of simplicity, we’ll assume that the Seahawks will win one of their remaining two games, both at home, and wrap up one of the wild card spots. That leaves one wild card spot for the Redskins to play for.
Here are the other contenders for that spot:
Team-Record-NFC record-Remaining games
Vikings 8-6, 6-5, @ Texans, Packers
Bears 8-6, 5-5, @ Cardinals, @ Lions
The Giants and Cowboys also are in the wild card mix. Let’s also note that the Redskins would have to lose a game to get into the wild card mix because if they win out, they win the division.
If the Redskins beat the Eagles next Sunday and the Giants, Vikings, and Bears all lose, Washington clinches at least a wild card spot. Even if the Redskins lose to Dallas in the finale, they would beat the Vikings based on a head to head win, the Bears due to a better conference record, and the Giants with a better division record.
The Redskins could still get a wild card with a loss in either of their last two games if the Bears, Vikings, and Giants all split their last two games. If they are all 9-7, the same tiebreaker advantages would apply.