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NFL Playoff Picture: NFC Bracket has everything but clarity; seeding, schedule, clinching scenarios


NFL Playoff Picture: NFC Bracket has everything but clarity; seeding, schedule, clinching scenarios

The NFC Playoff picture entering Week 16 has a little bit of everything but clarity.

After the top five teams, which are still wide-open in terms of positioning, the race for the final Wild Card spot is a four-man race.

Let's start with the basics in the NFC:

This week we saw the Minnesota Vikings (11-3) clinch the NFC North making two teams officially in the playoffs in the NFC. Additionally, the Philadelphia Eagles (12-2) will now have a first-round bye as one of the top two teams in the conference.

On the flip side, the Arizona Cardinals (6-8) were eliminated with their loss and the Green Bay Packers (7-7) were eliminated with their loss and Atlanta’s win this week.


For the Eagles (12-2), getting a win without Carson Wentz was huge in their preparation for the playoffs; even it was a close one. They now have a first round bye, thanks to their 34-29 win over the New York Giants and are one step closer to securing home-field advantage. A win against the Raiders this weekend, or a loss by the Vikings in Green Bay would do that for Philadelphia.

Minnesota at 11-3 is right behind them, only a game out of first place. They hold the tiebreaker over the Los Angeles Rams (10-4) and New Orleans Saints (10-4) because of early season matchups.  

After that, seeds No. 3-5 are a mess. A loss by the Seattle Seahawks (8-6) or a Rams win clinches the NFC West and either the third or fourth seed for Los Angeles.

For now they are No. 3 but it is a dogfight between New Orleans and the Carolina Panthers (10-4)  for the NFC South division title. The other will likely be the top Wild Card but nothing is set in stone. If both teams were to tie at the end of the year, the Saints would take the division.

Finally, there is some slight separation in the Wild Card race. Carolina’s 31-24 win over Green Bay was a huge relief to the Detriot Lions (8-6), Dallas Cowboys (8-6) and Seahawks,  who are still mathematically alive for the No 6 seed. The 10-4 Carolina Panthers are now just one win away from being in the postseason.

Momentarily the Atlanta Falcons (9-5) hold the final playoff spot and hold a tiebreaker over every team trailing them. With the Saints and Panthers only a game ahead, and Atlanta playing both of them in the final weeks, the Falcons can still make the playoffs. On the flip side, either the Panthers or the Saints can fall out of the playoff picture with two losses as well.

Seattle (8-6), Detroit (8-6) and Dallas (8-6) are not going anywhere quite yet. They both need two losses from the Falcons, Saints, or Panthers in the final two weeks to have a shot. In all likely hood, at least one 10-6 team will miss the playoffs. 

There are now four remaining unclaimed spots in the postseason, with seven teams battling for it.


NFC Playoff Picture Week 16

— y - #1 Philadelphia Eagles* (12-2) vs. BYE
— #2 Minnesota Vikings* (11-3) vs. BYE
— #3 Los Angeles Rams (10-4) vs. #6 Atlanta Falcons (9-5)
— #4 New Orleans Saints (10-4) vs. #5 Carolina Panthers (10-4)

— Seattle Seahawks (8-6)
— Detroit Lions (8-6)
— Dallas Cowboys (8-6)

— Green Bay Packers (7-7)
— Washington Redskins (6-8)
— Arizona Cardinals (6-8)
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10)
— San Francisco 49ers (4-10)
— Chicago Bears (4-10)
— New York Giants (2-12)

*: Clinched Playoff Berth
x: Clinched Division
y: Clinched First Round Bye
z: Clinched homefield advantage

— Eagles own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rams, Panthers.
— Vikings own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rams, Saints, and Falcons
— Rams own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Saints.
— Saints own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Panthers.
— Panthers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Vikings.

— Panthers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions.
— Falcons own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions, Cowboys, and Seahawks.


Week 16 NFC Games With Playoff Implications:

Sat., Dec 23: Vikings at Packers (8:30 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 24: Lions at Bengals (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 24: Rams at Titans (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 24: Falcons at Saints (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 24: Buccaneers at Panthers (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 24: Seahawks at Cowboys (4:25 p.m.)
Mon., Dec 25: Raiders at Eagles (8:30 p.m.)

NFC Week 16 Clinching Scenarios

Philadelphia clinches homefield advantage throughout NFC playoffs:
1) PHI win
2) PHI tie + MIN loss or tie
2) MIN loss

Minnesota clinches first round bye:
1) MIN win + CAR loss or tie
2) MIN tie + LAR loss or tie + NO loss or tie + CAR loss

Los Angeles clinches the NFC West:
1) LAR win or tie
2) SEA loss or tie

Los Angeles clinches a playoff berth:
1) DET loss or tie + CAR loss + ATL loss

New Orleans clinches the NFC South:
1) NO win + CAR loss
New Orleans clinches a playoff berth:
1) NO win or tie
2) DAL-SEA tie

Carolina clinches a playoff berth:
1) CAR win or tie
2) DAL-SEA tie

Atlanta clinches a playoff berth:
1) ATL win or tie
2) ATL tie + DAL-SEA tie + DET loss or tie

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NFL Schedule Release 2018: Rumors, news, dates, home, away opponents


NFL Schedule Release 2018: Rumors, news, dates, home, away opponents

The 2018 NFL schedule will be released at 8:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 19.

The 2018 NFL Season begins on Thursday, Sept. 6 with the Thursday Night Football season-opener. Week 1 commences on Sunday, Sept. 9 with a full slate of games.

But what we still have yet to find out is when each team plays each other. Home and away opponents, plus intra- and inter-conference matchups have already been announced, but the 2018 NFL schedule release will tell us when the teams will play.

The 2018 NFL schedule rumor mill has already started, with reports that the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles will host the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday in Week 1 for the season-opener in a rematch of the NFC championship game.

Here is everything we know about the 2018 NFL Schedule:

2018 NFL Schedule Rumors, News

Per out-of-town reports, we have the dates of some of the Redskins games. 

  • On Monday night, October 8, the Redskins will play at New Orleans. This would be a rematch of one of the 2017 games of the year (although Redskins fans would like to forget about how it ended
  • On Sunday, November 11 the Redskins will travel to Tampa Bay to play the Bucs. This should mark the Redskins' first game against their former star wide receiver, DeSean Jackson. 

Week 1: Vikings at Eagles. Howard Eskin of Sports Radio WIP reports that a rematch of the NFC Championship Game will serve as the 2018 NFL season-opener with the Vikings heading to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles.

Redskins 2018 Home Opponents:

Philadelphia Eagles
Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
Carolina Panthers (NFC South)
Green Bay Packers (NFC North)
Atlanta Falcons (NFC South)
Indianapolis Colts (AFC South)
Houston Texans (AFC South)

Redskins 2018 Away Opponents:

Philadelphia Eagles 
Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
New Orleans Saints (NFC South)
Arizona Cardinals (NFC West)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC South)
Tennessee Titans (AFC South)
Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC South)


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Redskins draft countdown: Georgia RB Sony Michel

Redskins draft countdown: Georgia RB Sony Michel

Redskins draft countdown

Sony Michel

Running back

Sony Michel is a solid north-south runner who also can bounce outside and pick up yardage. He shared playing time with Nick Chubb last year and still ran for 1,277 yards, averaging 7.9 yards per carry, and scored 16 touchdowns against SEC competition. Michel also showed his bona fides in the passing game, catching 64 career passes and showing that he can handle pass protection. 

Height: 5-11
Weight: 220
40-yard dash:4.54

Projected draft round:2

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins have made no secret of their desire to draft an upgrade at running back. They would prefer one who can catch passes out of the backfield and gain yardage between the tackles. Sony Michel can do both as well as pop for yardage on the outside. There is a good chance that he will be on the board when the Redskins draft in the second round. Since they don’t have a third-round pick, this may be the last chance to get an upgrade in this draft. 

Film review: vs. Notre Dame, vs. Alabama

—The first thing to say here is that the Bulldogs had a quality run-blocking offensive line. Michel frequently had big holes to run through. For his part, Michel maximized his gains when he had a big opening, hitting it quickly and working north-south. 

—He also can pick up yards through just a small crease, again by hitting it with urgency and gaining momentum to drive for the final few yards. 

—Michel didn’t do a whole lot of pass protection in the plays I watched, but he was solid when he did. On one play against Notre Dame, he put a blitzing defensive back on the ground. Against Alabama, he got in the way of likely first-round pick Da’Ron Payne long enough to allow the quarterback to get off a deep pass. To be sure, he didn’t blow Payne away but his block was effective.

—Besides the O-line, Michel also got quality blocking from his receivers. Again, he took advantage, reading the blocks and maximizing the gain. 

—He also can get it done without much help. On third and 20 against the vaunted Alabama defense, he headed up the middle and quickly went outside when he saw no running room. He headed to the sideline with four Alabama defenders and no blockers in sight. Michel found another gear and accelerated down the sideline to convert the third and long.  

—He later converted a third and 10 on a draw play, quickly getting up to speed and zipping through traffic to move the sticks. 

Potential issues: Although he has decent speed, he’s not the home run threat you might want in a back taken in the second round. And Michel isn’t really a power back either, although he can fight for extra yards. 

Despite his limitations, there is chatter that Michel might be drafted early in the second round or perhaps even late in the first. It’s hard to separate the smoke and speculation from reality as we sit a week before the draft starts. But he’s a talented back and if Derrius Guice goes off the board earlier than most expect, a run on runners could include Michel. 

Bottom line: Saquon Barkley is the obvious top running back and he surely will be gone when the Redskins pick in the first round. After that, the Redskins have plenty of options. They like Guice but 13 may be too high for him and he is likely to be gone when their pick in the second is on the clock. Michel is one of a few possibilities there, a group that also would include Michel’s former teammate Nick Chubb, Ronald Jones of USC and others. Without a peek at the draft board in Ashburn, we will just have to wait and see. 

Redskins draft countdown

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