Play­off odds would take huge hit with loss in Ari­zona

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY TODD DYBAS

ASHBURN | Five weeks is all that’s left. Five weeks for the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins to make it into the play­offs for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive sea­son, pro­duc­ing back-to-back play­off ap­pear­ances by the or­ga­ni­za­tion for the first time since 1991-92.

As it stands, the Red­skins re­main in by a sliver. They are the sixth seed and would travel to play the Detroit Lions if the play­offs be­gan this week. The NFL still uses a sys­tem that re­wards division win­ners as op­posed to team record. So, the Red­skins as a wild-card en­trant could well have a bet­ter record than their op­po­nent, but still have to go on the road in the play­offs. If they are the sixth seed, there is no sce­nario where they will play at home in the play­offs. Since Wash­ing­ton has a one per­cent chance to win the NFC East, ac­cord­ing to the sta­tis­ti­cal web site The Up­shot, its fate will al­most cer­tainly be as a wild­card team that will be on the road.

The NFC is packed through the mid­dle. Wash­ing­ton is just a half a game in front of the Tampa Bay Buc­ca­neers and Min­nesota Vik­ings, both 6-5. Three teams, the Green Bay Pack­ers, New Or­leans Saints and Philadel­phia Ea­gles are 5-6. Wash­ing­ton plays at Philadel­phia on Dec. 11.

The out­come this Sunday will have a mas­sive in­flu­ence on Wash­ing­ton’s odds of reach­ing the play­offs. The Up­shot’s sim­u­la­tor gives the Red­skins a 72-per­cent chance to make the play­offs if they beat the Ari­zona Car­di­nals

in Ari­zona this week­end. If they lose? Trou­ble. The odds fall to 38-per­cent. En­ter­ing the game, Wash­ing­ton has es­sen­tially a 50-50 shot to get in, ac­cord­ing to the web site’s cal­cu­la­tions.

“This is a good foot­ball team that we’re play­ing, I don’t care what their record is, they are a very good foot­ball team,” Red­skins coach Jay Gru­den said of the 4-6-1 Car­di­nals. “If you go 13-3 not too long ago, you have good play­ers — Car­son Palmer, Larry Fitzger­ald, Michael Floyd, [David] John­son — I mean it goes on-and-on the list of play­ers that they have of­fen­sively and de­fen­sively. We have to get geared up. It’s at their place. It has al­ways been a tough place to play. If we don’t get geared up, it’ll be a long day.”

Four of the Red­skins’ fi­nal five op­po­nents do not have a win­ning record. By the time they en­counter a team above .500, it may not mat­ter. Wash­ing­ton closes the sea­son by host­ing the New York Gi­ants, who are 8-3. By Week 17, the play­offs could be de­ter­mined, mak­ing that game moot for at least one side, if not both. Be­fore that fi­nal game, the Red­skins will have a chance to make a lot of progress against stum­bling teams. Af­ter they play the Car­di­nals, each sub­se­quent op­po­nent is worse off. The Ea­gles are 5-6. The Carolina Pan­thers are 4-7. The Chicago Bears are 2-9.

“I think this is a crit­i­cal stretch for us,” tight end Ver­non Davis said. “We have to keep win­ning to make sure we can stamp our place in the play­offs.”

Reed day-to-day be­cause of shoul­der in­jury

Jor­dan Reed had a jersey on Wed­nes­day dur­ing Red­skins prac­tice in­side their white prac­tice bub­ble. How­ever, he did not par­tic­i­pate.

Reed suf­fered a Grade 3 sep­a­ra­tion of the AC joint in his left shoul­der on Thanks­giv­ing Day against the Dal­las Cow­boys. He left the field, was at­tended to in the locker room, then re­turned to the game for the start of the third quar­ter. Postgame, he needed as­sis­tance tak­ing off and putting on a T-shirt.

Reed said Mon­day that he had about 30 per­cent mo­bil­ity in the shoul­der. Gru­den said Wed­nes­day that Reed is com­ing along “slowly,” but will not re­quire surgery.

“He didn’t do a lot [Wed­nes­day],” Gru­den said. “He’s in a lot of pain, but like I said, he’s got a few days here to re­ally get in the train­ing room and try to make it feel as com­fort­able as pos­si­ble be­fore game time and we’ll just have to make a de­ci­sion come Friday or Saturday.”

De­fen­sive end An­thony Lanier (shin) also did not par­tic­i­pate in prac­tice. Line­backer Ter­rence Garvin (shoul­der), de­fen­sive end Ricky Jean Fran­cois (knee), left tackle Ty Nsekhe (an­kle) and right guard Bran­don Scherff (an­kle) were all lim­ited. Wide re­ceiver DeSean Jack­son (shoul­der), long snap­per Nick Sund­berg (back) and safety Will Black­mon (thumb) were full par­tic­i­pants.

For weeks, the Red­skins were able to trun­cate the list of in­jured play­ers on the team. Wed­nes­day’s in­jury re­port in­cluded mul­ti­ple starters who are try­ing to be ready for Sunday.

“I’ve just got to let them go to the train­ing room and get their treat­ment and then come Thurs­day, Friday, we’ll see where they are,” Gru­den said. “The good thing is we feel like we have good depth so if some of these guys can’t go, guys be­hind them are go­ing to step up and play well. That’s the only way we can go about it.”

EX­TRA POINTS: Gru­den re­it­er­ated his faith in kicker Dustin Hop­kins, who has strug­gled the last five weeks. “I’m not go­ing to say I’m not go­ing to kick a field goal be­cause I’m afraid he’s go­ing to miss it,” Gru­den said. “If we need the points, we’re go­ing to kick it.” … Turns out quar­ter­back Kirk Cousins is a fan of the mu­si­cal “Hamil­ton”: “I don’t know all the words, but I’m a big Broad­way fan,” Cousins said. “I love mu­si­cal the­ater — my mom kind of raised me on that.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Wash­ing­ton Red­skins tight end Jor­dan Reed is com­ing along “slowly” from the Grade 3 sep­a­ra­tion of the AC joint in his left shoul­der that he suf­fered Nov. 24 against the Dal­las Cow­boys, but will not re­quire surgery, coach Jay Gru­den said on Wed­nes­day.

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