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In addition to the Redskins, here is who you should be rooting for in Week 12

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In addition to the Redskins, here is who you should be rooting for in Week 12

It's crunchtime in the NFL, in particular for the Redskins. 

Standing at 4-6 on the season, the Redskins cannot afford to have another loss on their schedule. In the loaded NFC, though, they're probably going to need some extra help if they want to have any hope at making the playoffs.


With an easier schedule now on Washington’s horizon, they'll start to chip away at the two-game deficit they face for the final playoff spot in the NFC. The issue is that they are competing against three 6-4 teams, two 5-5 teams, and two other 4-6 teams. That is eight teams in the race for only one spot in the postseason. 

Let's assume that the Redskins go undefeated the rest of the way, because first and foremost they have to take care of business to have a shot. That will take the Chicago Bears, New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers completely out of the Redskins’ race.

If your hope is that the Redskins will make the playoffs in the 2017-18 season, here are the other things to root for in Week 12, besides for the Redskins knocking off the Giants on Thanksgiving night:

Minnesota (8-2) over Detroit (6-4)
NOTES: The Vikings own the head-to-head over the Redskins so they are essentially 4.5 games up over Washington. Besides, someone has to win the NFC North and Minnesota should be the team you want.

LA Chargers (4-6) over Dallas (5-5)
NOTES: No explanation needed

Tampa Bay (4-6) over Atlanta (6-4)
NOTES: This is the only semi-tough one, but with the Falcons currently holding the final playoff spot the Redskins need them to lose. It will not be that hard for the Buccaneers to drop one more before the season is over.

NY Jets (4-6) over Carolina (7-3)
NOTES: Carolina is the No. 1 Wild Card team right now and the Redskins do not want them to get close to passing the Saints for the NFC South division title.

Chicago (3-7) over Philadelphia (9-1)
NOTES: One more win by the Eagles will eliminate Washington from the NFC East division title. While it is pretty much a foregone conclusion, there is still a chance...

San Francisco (1-9) over Seattle (6-4)

New Orleans (8-2) over LA Rams (7-3)
NOTES: Washington does not have the head-to-head over New Orleans but they do against the Rams. Los Angeles also has a worse record and will be easier to catch.

Jacksonville (7-3) over Arizona (4-6)

Pittsburgh (8-2) over Green Bay (5-5)


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Need to Know: The five key plays from the Redskins' win over Arizona

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Need to Know: The five key plays from the Redskins' win over Arizona

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, December 18, six days before the Washington Redskins play the Denver Broncos at FedEx Field.


Today’s schedule: Jay Gruden press conference 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Redskins @ Giants (12/31) 13
—NFL free agency starts (3/14/18) 86
—NFL Draft (4/26/18) 129

The five key plays during Redskins vs Cardinals

Sack and strip by Anthony Lanier, recovery by Preston Smith—This was on the third play of the game and the Redskins had a touchdown on the fifth play of the game. It also was the start of a stellar day for Lanier, who had two sacks, a tackle for loss, and three passes batted down in addition to the forced fumble.

Kirk Cousins screen pass to Kapri Bibbs for a touchdown—This was a well-designed play, with Kirk Cousins first doing a play-action fake to Bibbs and then faking a jet sweep to Ryan Grant. All that gave time for the offensive line to form a wall and Bibbs got behind it, took Cousins’ short pass, and rolled 39 yards for the touchdown. That made it 14-3 early in the third quarter, giving the Redskins some breathing room to keep the Cardinals at arm’s length, while their offense struggled at times.

Vernon Davis fumble—The Redskins had a chance to grab some momentum back before halftime after Smith picked off a Gabbert pass at the Washington eight. His return and a personal foul penalty set the Redskins up with a first down at their own 41 with 1:50 left in the half. But on the first play, Davis caught a pass from Cousins, turned upfield and fumbled. The Cardinals recovered and drove in for a field goal that made it 14-9 at halftime.

Second half kickoff gaffe—The Cardinals tried a pooch kick and it worked like a charm. None of the Redskins seemed to know what to do with the kick either before or after it hit the ground. The Cardinals recovered and got a field goal that made it a two-point game.

Gabbert pass for Larry Fitzgerald incomplete on fourth down—After exchanges of field goals in the second half, it came down to a fourth and 10 play at the Redskins 21 with Washington leading 20-15 with 23 seconds left. Gabbert threw for Fitzgerald at inside the 10 yard line. The pass was high but Fitzgerald has made his bones on hauling in such passes. Ex-Cardinal D.J. Swearinger was there to contest the pass and he maybe got a couple of fingers on it. The pass fell incomplete and the Redskins breathed a sigh of relief before celebrating a badly-needed win.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Five takeaways from the Redskins’ narrow win over the Cardinals

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Five takeaways from the Redskins’ narrow win over the Cardinals

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ 20-15 win over the Cardinals.

Turnovers are important: Part of the Redskins’ problems in their last two non-competitive games was a lack of turnovers. Their only takeaway against the Cowboys and Chargers came on an interception in LA long after the outcome had been decided. Today, the Redskins got one three plays into the game, giving them an extremely short field (six yards) and a 7-0 lead a minute and a half into the game. That proved to be critical on a day when the offense operated well only in fits and starts.

RELATED: Must see photos from Redskins-Cardinals

Kendall Fuller might go to the Pro Bowl: Well, maybe he won’t because not many cornerbacks on 6-8 teams with low-ranked defenses get picked. But he is very, very good. Sunday he was all over the place and finished with eight tackles, including one in the middle of the line on a running play, something you don’t see a corner do often. He also knocked down two passes. The Redskins hope that some of their players who are now rookies can take the same leap that Fuller has between his first and second seasons.

Bad call, Jay: I’m not usually one to bang on Jay Gruden for his play calling but the end around to Josh Doctson late in the third quarter was just awful. They had a five-point lead first down at their own 32. A nice steady drive to any kind of score makes it tough for the Cardinals. But instead of sticking with what was working, Gruden called for an end around the Josh Doctson. It was the wrong play call at the wrong time to the wrong player. Doctson lost 14 yards on the play, which killed the drive. The Cardinals took possession after the punt and got back within two points on a field goal. Not good, Jay.

Special teams still struggle: There were three separate special teams gaffes in the second half. The Cardinals did a pooch kick on the second-half kickoff and they recovered it after the ball took an odd bounce. Then Jamison Crowder let a punt hit the ground and roll all the way back to the six-yard line, costing about 15 yards of field position. Finally, the Cardinals hit a 54-yard field goal but AJ Francis was called for using leverage to try to block the kick, giving the Cardinals a first down. Fortunately, they survived all of the miscues. The defense held Arizona to a field goal after the kickoff, the offense managed to drive for a field goal after getting the ball at the six, and the Cardinals kicked another field goal after the penalty on Francis. Still, the special teams can’t rely on getting bailed out all the time.

A needed win: The Cardinals did manage to put a big scare into the Redskins by driving down to the Washington 21 in the last minute. But the home team held on, averting disaster in the process. Had they lost due to a late drive engineered by Blaine Gabbert, who completed 39-percent of his passes and had a passer rating of 43, things would have become very ugly. A win is a win in the NFL so the fact that a couple of passes went just off the fingertips of receivers inside the 10 on the final drive won’t matter. They will celebrate and go into the week to prepare for the Broncos in a much better frame of mind.

MORE REDSKINS: Some unexpected players lead the Redskins to a sloppy but much-needed win

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.