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Need to Know: An opportunity lost for the Redskins

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Need to Know: An opportunity lost for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, October 13, five days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Jets.

An opportunity lost

The Redskins’ loss to the Falcons represented something beyond another mark in the “L” column in the standings. It was a lost opportunity.

This team is trying to flip the script and change its reputation. They want to go from being soft to being tough, from chokers to clutch performers, from a group of inconsistent performers to a machine, from road kill to road warriors. And, most important, from losers to winners.

The Redskins had a chance to take a step in in the right direction in all of those negative areas against the Falcons. They came close. They were tough and came through in some key situations. The Redskins had their chances to knock off an undefeated team on the road.

But the opportunity was lost. Instead of being played over and over again in top 10 highlights, Bashaud Breeland’s fourth-quarter interception and deft 28-yard return to set up what could have been the clinching points, the play is a mere footnote. The drive in the final 24 seconds of the game to set up Dustin Hopkins’ tying field goal from 52 yards out could have been the stuff of legend. Instead, any recounting of the drive will be followed by, “yeah, but . . .”

The good thing about the NFL in October is that there always are more chances coming. The Redskins have another on coming on Sunday in the Meadowlands. They face a 3-1 Jets team coming off of the bye. They aren’t perceived to be quite in the class with the Falcons but they almost certainly will be a popular pick giving anywhere from four to seven points to the Redskins.

But even if they manage to spring the upset, there still will be questions about consistency. The Redskins have alternated losses and wins so far in their first five games. Even slightly better than mediocre teams put together a winning streak every now and then. Since winning seven in a row to finish off the 2012 season in style, the longest winning streak the Redskins have put together is two, and they've done that just once. That is it in terms of winning streaks, even if you want to call it that. And with a trip to Foxboro to play the Patriots coming up after the games against the Jets and Bucs (and the bye), the prospects for winning more than two in a row starting here are pretty dim.

You never know how things are going to go. The glass half full scenario is that they are improved over last year when the adversity could have crushed them, and that they are moving in the right direction. At some point that will show up in the win column.

But it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes a team just can’t get over the hump and continues to lose winnable games. Nobody can say for sure where the Redskins are headed.

They say that a good team is one that can play at less than its best and still win. I don’t know how you would describe a team that can’t do the two main things it was built to do (run the ball and stop the run), has an erratic day from its quarterback, gives up a go-ahead touchdown with 24 seconds left to play and still almost pulls out a road win over a 4-0 team.

I guess we'll just call them the 2015 Redskins and see how it all turns out.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Player meetings, no media availability

Days until: Redskins @ Jets 5; Bucs @ Redskins 12; Redskins @ Patriots 26

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2018 NFL Draft order has Redskins pick nearing top ten as losses stockpile

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2018 NFL Draft order has Redskins pick nearing top ten as losses stockpile

LOS ANGELES — Some years, the December talk is of playoff tiebreakers.

Other years, it’s about draft position.

This is one of those “other” years.

The Redskins’ current skid of four losses in their last five games has knocked them out of playoff contention but into more favorable position in the 2018 NFL Draft, which is scheduled to take place in late April.

The Redskins' record is 5-8 through Week 14,  and if the season ended today, Washington would be picking either 11th or 12th in the first round.

Here’s the big picture: As of Monday, there are eight teams that have fewer wins than Washington. All of them would be picking ahead of the Redskins. 

The Bengals and Jets also have eight losses so the one and only draft order tiebreaker would be applied.

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 3.0

This does not work out well for the Redskins.

The NFL Draft tiebreaker is strength of schedule with the teams with the weaker schedules getting the better picks. I am sure you have heard about how tough a schedule the Redskins have all year long. It was a point of pride for many fans. But now it comes back to bite them.

The Jets (opponents winning percentage .488) and the Bengals (.444) have faced weaker schedules than the Redskins (.574). That pushes Washington back to 11th.

RELATED: FEW UPS, MANY DOWNS VS. CHARGERS

But there is a Week 14 game pending. The Dolphins, who have seven losses, play the Patriots on Monday Night Football. If they lose and join the eight-loss group, they would jump ahead of the Redskins based on the SOS tiebreaker, pushing Washington back to 12th.

Of course, the season doesn’t end today and a lot can happen.

But if the bottom doesn’t completely fall out it seems likely that they will end up somewhere between 10th and 12th in the first round.

We will be looking at what that might mean for the Redskins in the coming days and weeks as the offseason comes early for the Redskins one more time.

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NFL Playoff Picture: NFC bracket projection starting to come into focus

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USA Today Sports

NFL Playoff Picture: NFC bracket projection starting to come into focus

The NFC Playoff picture is no clearer in Week 14 than it was in Week 8.

Throughout the 2017-18 NFL season, the NFC in particular has been a gauntlet. So much of a gauntlet that one of the league’s best in the past five years, the Seattle Seahawks, sit outside of the postseason with an 8-5 record.

As of the conclusion of Week 14’s action, only the Philadelphia Eagles (11-2) have locked up a postseason spot.

The Eagles claimed the NFC East for the first time since 2013 with a win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. The will clinch a first round bye with a win and losses by the Saints and the Panthers this weekend.

The Minnesota Vikings (10-3) with their loss remains second in the conference, still within striking range over the overall No. 1 seed.

With losses to the two teams ahead of them, the Rams (9-4) have a tough hill to climb to claim a first-round bye, but first they need to get back in the win column.

For the WildCard berths there was a wrench thrown into many teams plans with the Atlanta Falcons (8-5) defeating the New Orleans Saints (9-4) on Thursday night. Atlanta owns a tiebreaker over pretty much every team chasing them for the final playoff spot.

For the five remaining unclaimed spots in the postseason, 10 teams are still alive.

After Week 15 though, that number could dwindle down significantly.

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 3.0

NFC Playoff Picture Week 15

NFC PLAYOFF BRACKET PROJECTION:
— #1 Philadelphia Eagles* (11-2) vs. BYE
— #2 Minnesota Vikings (10-3) vs. BYE
— #3 Los Angeles Rams (9-4) vs. #6 Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
— #4 New Orleans Saints (9-4) vs. #5 Carolina Panthers (9-4)

NFC TEAMS IN THE PLAYOFF HUNT:
— Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
— Detroit Lions (7-6)
— Green Bay Packers (7-6)
— Dallas Cowboys (7-6)
— Arizona Cardinals (6-7)

NFC TEAMS ELIMINATED FROM PLAYOFF PICTURE:
— Washington Redskins (5-8)
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9)
— Chicago Bears (4-9)
— San Francisco 49ers (3-10)
— New York Giants (2-11)

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

WILD CARD NOTES:
— Panthers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions.
— Falcons own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions, Packers, Cowboys, and Seahawks.
— Lions own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cardinals.
— Packers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seahawks, Cowboys.
— Cowboys own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cardinals.

Week 15 NFC Games With Playoff Implications:

Sat., Dec 16: Bears at Lions (4:30 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Bengals at Vikings (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Jets at Saints (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Eagles at Giants (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Cardinals at Redskins (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Panthers at Packers (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Rams at Seahawks (4:05 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Cowboys at Raiders (8:30 p.m.)
Mon., Dec 18: Falcons at Buccaneers (8:30 p.m.)