Taking a look at the teams ahead of the Redskins in the playoff race:
New York (8-5)
The skinny: The Giants rebounded with a big outburst vs. New Orleans in a 52-27 victory. They’re tough to figure out, as usual.
The finish: Here’s the hope for Redskins fans. The Giants play at Atlanta (11-2) and at Baltimore (9-4) before finishing at home vs. Philadelphia. It is, by far, the toughest schedule of those ahead of the Redskins. With Dallas also at 7-6, the Giants could need to win 10 games to win the division (they split with the Cowboys).
Tiebreakers vs. Washington: Because they split, it comes down to NFC East record and the Redskins have the edge. The Giants are 2-3 in the NFC East compared to Washington’s 3-1. So if they end up tied for first the Redskins will win the division.
Playoff stock: Shaky. The Giants have the lead, but that finish is brutal. Even if you think Atlanta is not a strong 11-2, it’s still a road game vs. a quality opponent and the Falcons are 6-0 at home. The Ravens are 5-1 at home. The Giants do have a 7-3 division mark so if they win their final two NFC games, they’ll be in good shape for a wild card berth should they get passed by the Redskins or Dallas.
The skinny: The Seahawks have won four of their last five games and also are led by a rookie QB in Russell Wilson. They beat Arizona, 58-0, on Sunday – which says as much about the Cardinals as it does about the Seahawks.
The finish: They play Buffalo (5-8) in Toronto followed by home games vs. San Francisco (9-3-1) and St. Louis (6-6-1). The Seahawks are 6-0 at home, but they could lose either one of those final games. (They lost to the 49ers and Rams by a combined 13 points on the road).
Tiebreakers vs. Washington: The Redskins are in OK shape here. The Seahawks have a 6-4 record in the NFC, same as Washington (conference record is the No. 2 tiebreaker after head to head). If both teams finish 10-6, with Seattle’s loss occurring in one of the final two games, then the Redskins would earn the bid based on a better conference record. If they’re somehow tied in the conference record then it comes down to record vs. common opponents. To date, they’ve played four common opponents: St. Louis, Minnesota, Carolina and Dallas. The Seahawks are 3-1 in those games to Washington’s 2-2.
Playoff stock: Steady. There’s potential trouble in the final two games, but the Seahawks are a different team at home.
The skinny: The Bears weren’t in much danger of being passed by the Redskins until losing consecutive games to Seattle and Minnesota. Now the Bears are in serious trouble with three games remaining, the last two of which are on the road. QB Jay Cutler exited Sunday’s loss to Minnesota with a neck injury. There are encouraging signs out of Chicago about his status.
The finish: Chicago hosts Green Bay (9-4) on Sunday before heading to Arizona (4-9) and Detroit (4-9). The Packers beat the Bears, 23-10, earlier in the season. The Bears beat Detroit, 13-7, in the first meeting.
Tiebreakers vs. Washington: The Bears are 5-4 in the NFC compared to Washington’s 6-4. The Redskins’ conference record gives them an edge in a tie if they’re both 10-6 (the Bears would be 7-5 to 8-4 for Washington). If they’re both 9-7, then the Redskins would still win out because Chicago would have six conference losses. (I had this wrong earlier).
Playoff stock: Falling, but they still control their destiny. However, one more loss and they might not. A win over Green Bay would help tremendously, but the Packers have won seven of the past eight.
The skinny: The Redskins have won four straight during a stretch that was supposed to be a difficult one for them. They’re winning games they would not have won with previous teams. If Chicago loses Sunday and the Redskins win, they control their playoff destiny.
The finish: Road games at Cleveland (5-8) and Philadelphia (4-9) before closing the regular season at home vs. Dallas (7-6).
Playoff stock: Rising. Can’t say it’s anything else, but there’s an asterisk with this because of Robert Griffin III’s status. Though he avoided an ACL tear, there’s still uncertainty about his status. If he has to miss a game or two then the Redskins’ chances take a serious blow. Kirk Cousins showed he can enter in a pinch and help, but we don’t know yet how he would handle starting. A big reason for the Redskins’ success of late is turnover differential and the big play ability of Griffin.
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