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Enemy Intel: Which teams can help Redskins into playoffs?

Enemy Intel: Which teams can help Redskins into playoffs?

The Redskins are holding onto playoff hopes, but they necessarily will be scoreboard watching as soon as their game in Chicago concludes. As the number of contenders shrinks here is my weekly Redskins-centric look around the NFL.

Let’s pull up the wild card contenders and relevant division leaders and their remaining schedules to get a perspective on what’s going on.

Lions (NFC North leaders, 9-5): (@Cowboys, Packers)
Falcons (NFC South leaders, 9-5): (@Panthers, Saints)

Giants (10-5): @Redskins
Packers (8-6): Vikings, @Lions
Bucs (8-6): @Saints, Panthers
Redskins (7-6-1): @Bears, Giants

  • Taking a look back first, the Giants’ loss came a week too late to help the Redskins. They couldn’t catch the Giants going into the game anyway. The only negative is that the loss means that the Cowboys have clinched everything they can clinch, so they won’t have much incentive to beat the Lions on Monday night. That is a game the Redskins may need Dallas to win. But the fact that Dallas is locked into its playoff position might not matter much as you’ll see when we get to that game.

 

  • One route the Redskins have to the playoffs if the win out involves having the Buccaneers to lose one of their two remaining games. They are three-point underdogs at the Saints. New Orleans has not checked out, despite being out of playoff contention, and they probably are going to want to show that their miserable offensive performance in Tampa a couple of weeks ago was a fluke. That said, the Bucs play some tough defense, and it won’t be easy for Drew Brees and company. This one kicks off at 4:25 p.m., so the Redskins will be monitoring it and pulling for the Saints as they head to the airport.

 

  • If the Bucs don’t lose this week or next, the Redskins need the Falcons to lose twice. That would make Tampa Bay the NFC South champions and leave the Falcons at 9-7, behind a 9-6-1 Redskins team if they win out. Atlanta plays the Panthers, who are facing the same short Monday night-Saturday turnaround that the Redskins are. The Redskins hope that the Panthers put up every bit of the fight at home against the Falcons as they did at FedEx Field. The visiting Falcons are favored by 2.5.

 

  • That takes care of the NFC South contenders. Now let’s turn to the NFC North. If the Packers lose to the Vikings and the Bucs lose, the Redskins will have their playoff fate back in their own hands going into Week 17. Green Bay has been on a roll lately while Minnesota has been struggling. Fortunately the Redskins aren’t relying on a Packers loss entirely; it seems like a long shot with the Pack sitting as 6.5-point favorites.

 

  • The final game with Redskins playoff ramifications comes Monday night when the Lions are at the Cowboys. If the Bucs lose Sunday and the Lions lose Monday, the Redskins will be win and in on the last Sunday of the regular season if they beat the Bears. The Lions host the Packers in Week 17. If Detroit loses and the Packers win, that game will be for the NFC North title. The loser would be 9-7 and would lose out to a 9-6-1 Redskins team for the last wild card. If you don’t want to root for the Cowboys, that’s fine, but a Lions loss helps the Redskins.

 

  • For those of you concerned about the Cowboys having no incentive to win against the Lions, look back two years ago. In 2014 Jason Garrett and the Cowboys came in to Washington in Week 17 with the NFC East and the No. 3-seed locked in. Garrett didn’t rest anyone, and he didn’t let up on the gas. Even though Tony Romo had been banged up during the season, he played the entire game. So did DeMarco Murray, who carried 20 times to add to the heavy workload he had pulled all year. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten played extensively. The Cowboys didn’t let off the gas, posting a 44-17 win over the Redskins. There is no reason to think that Garrett will be resting starters with Week 17 plus a bye week to go before the playoffs start.

To sum it up, the Redskins get into the playoffs with a Bucs loss or two Falcons losses AND a Packers loss or two Lions losses. Redskins fans should be pulling for the Saints, Panthers, Vikings, and, well, you know who.

It is possible that the Redskins will qualify for the playoffs if they split their last two games, but they are very remote and I’m sure you don’t want to hear it.

The good news is that I picked five teams that won last week. Unfortunately, the Patriots were the only team that covered. I’m already down one as I had the Giants -2.5 over the Eagles. My other picks are the Ravens +5 over the Steelers, the Cowboys -7 over the Lions and Atlanta -2.5 over the Panthers.

MORE REDSKINS: Cousins' completion percentage is down while production increases

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In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency

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USA TODAY Sports

In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency

The Redskins spent modestly in 2018 free agency, and plenty of fans thought the team should have shelled out much bigger bucks. Talking with sources around the Ashburn facility, a prevaling notion became clear that the Washington brass believed they had a strong team in 2017, but they lost their chance to compete because of injuries. 

Well, the secret is out. Doug Williams said as much on Tuesday. 

"Coming out of Richmond last year, I liked this football team. I think we’ve got a tough football team, a smart football team. Some things you can’t control," Williams said Tuesday in a pre-draft media session. "We were very competitive up to a certain point, and when you have the injuries that we have, at a certain point, that competitive edge, you lose it because your best players are not playing."

Williams' words were true, and telling. 

First the true part:

  • In Washington's first five games of 2017, the team went 3-2. The Redskins only lost to eventual the Super Bowl champs Philadelphia and AFC West champs Kansas City. Washington only gave up more than 100 yards rushing once in those first five games, before rookie Jonathan Allen got hurt and the defense began to look much different. After Week 5, the Redskins only held one team under 100 yards rushing and finished the year dead last in rush defense.

Now the telling part:

  • The Redskins signed free agent WR Paul Richardson, and kept free agent LB Zach Brown. Beyond that, the team added inexpensive veterans in OLB Pernell McPhee and CB Orlando Scandrick. No splash moves, and recurring speculation that Washington was not offering top dollar to free agents. Bruce Allen acknowledged as much during NFL League Meetings when he explained that his team identified exactly how much they would offer free agents, their own and otherwise, and wouldn't go beyond that dollar figure. 

That means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is about this weekend's NFL Draft.

That also means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is not about Johnathan Hankins or any other free agent. 

"We’re going to deal with the draft now, and the second wave of free agents, if it’s somebody out there we feel like can help the Redskins,that’s what we’re going to do," Williams said. 

Throughout the offseason, Redskins fans wanted more action from their front office. It didn't happen, and Williams' basically explained why on Tuesday. The brass likes their team, and by default, expects better health and luck in 2018. 

When Williams talks about drafting the best player available, it's not just the typical NFL front office tripe. Right or wrong, the Redskins believe they have a team ready to compete in 2018, and any rookies that come in will only supplement that position.

"At the end of the day, I like this football team we’ve got. Like, last year when I walked out of camp, I thought we had a pretty good football team and I still feel the same way today," Williams said.

"At the end of the day, you get the best football player, and if that best football player is the guy that you want to plug and play, that’s all right. But if that’s the best football player that’s going to help your team overall, I think that’s the route you have to go."

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Doug Williams says Redskins will listen to draft trade offers but a trade up is unlikely

Doug Williams says Redskins will listen to draft trade offers but a trade up is unlikely

The Redskins aren’t in the quarterback business, so it’s highly unlikely that they will look to trade up in the first round of the draft on Thursday. But their phones will be open for business to move down. 

Speaking at the team’s pre-draft press conference, Doug Williams didn’t rule out trading up from the team’s first-round spot at 13thoverall but he doesn’t think it’s likely. 

“The chances of trading up might be a little slimmer than trading down,” he said. 

Williams said that the phones in the room will be ringing and that they will listen to any offers. But usually the team that wants to move up initiates the call and because the Redskins are set at one particular position they probably won’t pick up the phone. 

“If we were in the quarterback business, which is what this league is about, if we were in the heavy quarterback business we’d talk about moving up,” he said. “At this time, we can sit back and see what comes up if we stay at 13.”

The Redskins are set at quarterback after they traded their third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller for veteran Alex Smith to replace the departed Kirk Cousins. Williams thinks that the Redskins already got good value from the pick. 

“When I think about Alex Smith, I say we got the best third-round pick in the draft,” he said. “I don't care what nobody says. You can't get a better third-round pick.”

Because they think they got a good player, albeit an older one, with that pick, the Redskins are not necessarily looking to make a deal to move back and recoup that pick on draft day. 

Williams emphasized that in order to move back, you have to have a team that wants to trade up. Often that is easier said than done. 

“They don’t just call you to ask you, they have to get a player that they want,” said Williams. “At that particular time, they’re afraid that somebody else might pick him. They might call you to ask you if you want to move back . . . If we move back, that’s because somebody called us to see if we want to move back.”

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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/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.