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Redskins playoff scenarios and standings for Week 15

December 17, 2018

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Ask any Washington Redskins player in the locker room after Sunday’s game, and he would say the team did what it needed to do for one week. Nobody’s talking playoffs or watching what the Dallas Cowboys were doing the Redskins just needed a win.

They got what they needed in the form of a last-second, 16-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars that boosted them to 7-7 through 14 games. The win let them keep pace with their wild card competitors and yes, catch up a bit in the division race, as the Cowboys surprisingly lost in a shutout.

So now where do the Redskins stand? This view of the NFC race captures positions No. 4 through No. 9, as the top three seeds (the Rams, Saints and Bears) are out of the Redskins’ reach:

4. Cowboys 8-6 (NFC East leader) 5. Seahawks 8-6 6. Vikings 7-6-1 7. Eagles 7-7 8. Redskins 7-7 9. Panthers 6-7 (playing Monday night)

However much the Redskins want to use the cliche of “taking it one game at a time,” their Week 17 tilt against the Eagles has become more important than ever.

Philadelphia upset the Rams on the road Sunday night to improve to 7-7 alongside Washington. The Eagles currently hold the tiebreaker over the Redskins based on their head-to-head win earlier this month.

Both clubs are still in contention to win the NFC East, but Dallas still controls its own destiny one more win and Dallas clinches the division. (The Cowboys play the Buccaneers and the Giants in the final two weeks.)

Washington wins the division and earns the No. 4 seed if:

WSH wins out (including a win over PHI), AND DAL loses out

Should the Cowboys and Redskins finish with identical records, either 8-8 or 9-7, the Cowboys win the tiebreaker based on divisional record. Because Washington lost to the Giants last week, the best it can finish is 3-3 in the NFC East; the worst Dallas can do is 4-2. That’s why Washington needs to surpass Dallas overall in the standings to earn the division title and the playoff home game.

That is straightforward enough. Meanwhile, the wild card situation offers more permutations. The Redskins are not in control of their own destiny, but they have one “easy” path.

The Redskins clinch a playoff berth if:

WSH wins out, AND MIN loses once

Kirk Cousins and the Vikings continue to lead the Redskins by half a game after Week 15. They visit the Lions in Week 16 and host the NFC North champion Bears in the regular season finale. If the Vikings lose one of those and finish 8-7-1, the Redskins could manage to get to 9-7 and surpass them.

The Panthers play the New Orleans Saints on Monday night and again in Week 17. Washington owns the head-to-head tiebreaker against Carolina, should they finish with the same record. But if they’re part of a three-way tie with Philadelphia, the Eagles bump the Redskins to the bottom first, according to the NFL’s rules.

“If the tied clubs (in a wild card race) are from the same division, apply division tie breaker,” the procedures say.

The Seahawks slipped up in Week 15, fell to 8-6 with a loss and have to visit the 11-3 Chiefs next week. This puts the No. 5 seed in play for Washington, as well.

The Redskins secure the No. 5 seed if:

WSH wins out, AND MIN loses once, AND SEA loses twice

Believe it or not, in one scenario, a hypothetical two-way tie between Washington and Seattle could come down to the fourth tiebreaker, strength of victory. Seattle’s strength of victory is .378; Washington’s is .376. That’s incredibly close.

Redskins’ chances to make the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight: 11 percent.

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