Redskins need win, help to make playoffs
Just a week to go.
The Washington Redskins remain on the edge of the playoffs, in a place to lament a tie abroad, a late collapse in Detroit and two close games against the mighty Dallas Cowboys.
Had those been different, the Redskins could be in a position to use this week to heal vital pieces like tight end Jordan Reed or wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Instead, Washington starts the week knowing it is still the No. 7 seed in the NFC and can only reach the playoffs with a win and assistance.
Let’s start with what is directly in front of the Redskins. Sunday, they play a New York Giants team that has clinched a playoff spot. The Giants can’t win the NFC East; Dallas took that claim and kept intact a varied run of teams at the top. The last time the division had the same champion in consecutive seasons was when Philadelphia finished first in 2003 and 2004.
The Giants return to the playoffs for the first time in five
seasons. The question for them, and the Redskins, is how they will view Sunday’s game at FedEx Field. If the Giants lose to the Redskins and the Green Bay Packers win Sunday in Detroit, that would tie Green Bay and New York at 10-6. The Packers own the tiebreaker with New York because of an head-to-head win in Week 5. The only thing that would change for New York is where it travels to for a wild-card game. It may be a choice between Seattle and Detroit, which would make Detroit the clear preference for an opponent.
However, there is another wrinkle. It’s provided by Detroit. The Lions play Monday night at Dallas. The Cowboys have nothing to play for. They have clinched the top seed in the NFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Detroit, on the other hand, could be jettisoned from the playoffs if it loses its final two games of the season. If it wins both, then it becomes a division champion and host of a wild-card playoff game.
Which presents several moving pieces for the Redskins to get into the postseason. First, they have no choice but to beat the Giants on Sunday. Lose, and they are out. If Detroit loses on Monday night and the Redskins win Sunday, they are in the playoffs. This puts Washington fans in the diabolical position of possibly adopting Cowboys fandom for a night.
If Detroit wins Monday night, the Redskins will also need it to win Sunday against the Green Bay Packers — in addition to Washington beating the Giants.
According to The Upshot’s playoff simulator, Washington has a 46 percent chance to make the playoffs.
The Redskins will play the Giants at 4:25 p.m. Sunday. By the end of the night, they will know if they have made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1991-92.