Playoff odds would take huge hit with loss in Arizona
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.”
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.