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Around the NFL: Yes, Redskins fans, you should root for them again

Around the NFL: Yes, Redskins fans, you should root for them again

Yeah, it’s getting late. The Redskins need some help to get to the playoffs and here is my weekly Redskins-centric look around the NFL to tell you where they might get it from.  

Before we get started, here is where the teams with legitimate wild card hopes stand and their remaining schedules:

Giants (9-4): Lions, @Eagles, @Redskins
Bucs (8-5): @Cowboys, @Saints, Panthers
Redskins (7-5-1): Panthers, @Bears, Giants
Vikings (7-6): Colts, @Packers, Bears
Packers (7-6): @Bears, Vikings, @Lions

—Let’s start with the end of the day, the Sunday night game with the Buccaneers at Dallas. The debate has ranged all week over who really is a Redskins fan and who is not depending on whether a person is going to root for the Cowboys to win or refuses to do so. I’m not a judge of who is a fan and who isn’t. But whether you choose to pump your fist when Dallas scores a touchdown or not, the Redskins are much better off if the Bucs lose. That would give the Redskins an opportunity to regain control in their push for the playoffs by putting them a half-game ahead of Tampa Bay with two games left to play.

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—The Packers head to frigid Chicago. The Redskins don’t have to worry about the Packers if they win out but a Green Bay loss could give them some breathing room. Aaron Rodgers is pretty used to the cold so the projected temperature of four degrees shouldn’t bother him. The Redskins head to Chicago next Saturday but according to the long-term forecast the weather conditions will be better.

—The Vikings, who also are a half game behind the Redskins at 7-6, host the Colts in Adrian Peterson’s return to the field. It remains to be seen how much Peterson will play but the Vikings’ rushing game sure could use a boost. They are averaging 2.95 yards per rushing attempt. If that holds for the season it would be the fourth-lowest team rushing average since the merger.

—Those who just can’t even bear to root for the Cowboys’ opponent to lose, hope for the 49ers to pull off the upset at Atlanta. The Falcons have the same 8-5 record as the Bucs but they are ahead on the better record in common games tiebreaker. If the Falcons falter the Redskins could pull back into playoff position with a win on Monday night. An Atlanta loss seems unlikely given the Niners’ 1-12 record but it seems like a big spoiler upset like this would be happens every year. 

—A loss by the Giants to the Lions also would give the Redskins control over whether or not they make the playoffs. Washington would still be a half game behind New York but they could catch up in the season finale on New Year’s Day. There could be some advantages to a Lions loss if it is the start of them losing out the rest of the way (after tomorrow @Cowboys, Packers) but that’s a little complex. The more straightforward route is to have the Giants lose.

—So your Sunday rooting guide is: Cowboys (if you choose, I’m not judging), Bears, Colts, 49ers, and Lions.

—Some think that the Redskins will benefit if the Panthers are eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday. The Panthers could come out deflated if their defense of their NFC championship is officially over 24 hours before kickoff. The Panters will be out of the playoffs if either the Packers or the Vikings win. So even though Redskins fans should be rooting for the opposite outcome in those games, there may be some small consolation there if it doesn't happen. 

—I split last week, winning with the Falcons giving six to the Rams and the Redskins giving one to the Eagles and losing outright with favorites Cowboys and Seahawks. I have five games this week with the Patriots -3 at Denver, the Ravens -6 at home against the Eagles, the Packers giving 5.5 at Chicago, the Texans -6 at home over the Jaguars, and the Raiders -3 at San Diego.

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Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

The NFL started taking into account a new factor when putting together its schedule this year. The concept is called rest disparity. It stems from a complaint made by the Giants last year. And, of course, when the Giants have a cold, the NFL sneezes and immediately does whatever it takes to cure the cold. 

Here is how Peter King laid it out this morning on the MMQB:

Last year, I heard the Giants were not pleased with their schedule because they felt they were too often playing teams more rested than they were. In consecutive October weeks, they played teams coming off byes, for instance. The NFL calculated a figure for every team based on the number of combined days of rest for their foes or for the team, calculating, for instance, in those two weeks, the Giants were a minus-14 (minus-seven for each of the foes, Seattle and Denver, coming off byes). In all, by my math, the Giants were a league-worst minus-22 in “rest disparity.”

So the schedule makers worked to minimize the rest disparity this year. According to King, the worst rest disparity in the league this year is minus-11. The Giants are minus-eight. 

The question that Redskins fans will have immediately here is if the Giants’ rest disparity was reduced at the expense of the team in burgundy and gold. The answer that will surprise many is no. 

The Redskins rest disparity in 2018 will be either minus-one or zero. The variance is due to the possibility that their Week 16 game in Tennessee will be flexed to a Saturday game (see details here). If the game stays on Sunday, they will be at minus-one in rest disparity. If it gets moved, they will have had exactly as much rest over the course of the season as did their opponents, in aggregate. 

If you're interested in the nitty-gritty, here is how it breaks down. In eight or nine of their games, they will have had the same amount of rest as their opponents. They play one game coming off of their bye, a Monday night game in New Orleans. The Saints play the previous Sunday, giving Washington a plus-seven in days of rest. That is canceled out when they play the Falcons in Week 9 after Atlanta’s bye. 

Due to their Thanksgiving game, they get three extra days off going into their Week 13 Monday night game in Philadelphia. Two weeks later the Jaguars will have those three extra days of rest when they host the Redskins, having played on Thursday in Week 14.

They lose a day relative to their opponents coming off of those Monday night games against the Saints and Eagles. The Redskins get an extra day prior to visiting the Giants in Week 8 as New York has a Monday night game in Week 7. 

So far, that comes to minus-one in rest disparity. That will remain in place if they play the Titans on Sunday, December 23. If the game is flexed to Saturday, they will gain a day of rest on the Eagles in Week 17, zeroing out the rest disparity for the season. 

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

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Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

There was some confusion about the Redskins’ Week 16 game in Tennessee when the NFL schedule dropped. The schedule pushed out by the Redskins said that the game date and time are to be determined. Other versions that went out, including the one on NFL.com, says the game will be on Sunday, December 23 at 1 p.m.

So what’s the story? Well, if you’re thinking of making reservations to go to Nashville to watch the game you just might want to hold off for a while. Like, until early November. 

In an under the radar move, the NFL has established flex scheduling for its late-season Saturday games. Here are the details from the schedule press release from Redskins PR:

“Flexibility for Saturday games in Weeks 15 and 16 is also part of the 2018 schedule. In Week 15, there will be two games played on Saturday on NFL Network, with the game times of 4:30 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. to be determined. In Week 16, two of four possible matchups will be scheduled for Saturday. Start times and Saturday games for Week 15 and 16 will be announced no later than following Week 8, with the non-Saturday games to be played on Sunday.”

The way it sets up, if the Redskins and Titans are playing well in midseason there is a good chance the game will be played on Saturday, December 22 at either 4:30 or 8:20. If one or both teams are struggling, the league and networks could choose to flex two of the other four matchups to Saturday. 

This is taking flex scheduling to a different level. It’s one thing shifting a Sunday kickoff seven and a half hours from 1 p.m. to 8:30. It’s another to shift a whole day. The visiting teams can’t make travel arrangements, not knowing if they need to come into town on Friday for a Saturday game or on Saturday for Sunday. Fans who want to travel to the game are in the same boat. 

Of course, if you can afford it, you can just add a day to your Nashville excursion. There are worse things in the world than spending an extra day or two in Music City. 

If you have to wait to make your plans, as the Redskins do, you will find out no later than October 29, which is when Week 8 ends. 

Do you believe in trends? Then you should hope that the game does get flexed to Saturday. The Redskins have won three straight Saturday games, beating the Eagles in both 2014 and 2015 (the latter game clinching the division title for Washington) and the Bears in 2016. 

More Redskins

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