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Need to Know: Enemy Intel—Eagles, Giants may go shopping at key positions

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Need to Know: Enemy Intel—Eagles, Giants may go shopping at key positions

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 21, three days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Enemy intel: A spin around the NFC East and more

On Sundays we’re going to take a look around at what is going on the NFC East including an angle on the Redskins plus what’s up with another team that is on Washington’s 2016 schedule. We’ll try it for a while; if it’s fun and you readers find it interesting we’ll keep doing it.

The East

Eagles want to keep Sam Bradford but won’t tag him—When free agency starts Philly could be in the market for a quarterback or they may be set for the next several years. They won’t apply the franchise tag to Bradford; GM Howie Roseman said that he hopes that they can find a contract that “makes sense on both sides”. Apparently Roseman thinks that the $19.6 million tag tender doesn’t make sense for his side so if a team offers Bradford something close to that in average income in a long-term deal that it will be bye-bye Bradford and the Eagles will be looking for an alternative to Mark Sanchez, who would be their only quarterback under contract.

Giants’ Prince Amukamara won’t hear from Giants until March 9—New York GM Jerry Reese told the team’s first-round pick in the 2011 draft that he shouldn’t expect any contact from the Giants until free agency starts. That indicates a fairly low level of interest in re-signing him. The Nebraska product, who will be 27 before training camp starts, has played fairly well when he has been in the lineup but due to injuries he has played just one complete season in his five years in the league.

Cowboys’ Sean Lee says team could not overcome adversity—Talking on SiriusXM NFL Radio (via FoxSports.com), the Dallas middle linebacker said that his team went 4-12 because they couldn’t “overcome adversity” created by injuries to QB Tony Romo and WR Dez Bryant. Lee insisted that the Cowboys players had no issues with DE Greg Hardy, who quarreled with teammates and coaches on the sidelines and generally acted like a fool. He’s very believable on both counts. Few teams can do without a quarterback of Romo’s caliber and still thrive and a locker room can ignore one idiot no matter how much the owner is praising him.

Teammates tweet support for Cousins—There is no indication as of yet that the Redskins tend to try to lowball Kirk Cousins in negotiations for a new contract for the Redskins quarterback. Still, teammates WR Pierre Garçon and DE Chris Baker tweeted that the team brass should “pay the man”. That’s a good sign of solidarity although it won’t have much of an effect on the negotiations.

Around the NFL

Steelers TE Heath Miller retires—The team announced that the 11-year veteran is calling it quits. The Redskins won’t have to deal with the Pittsburgh’s all-time leading tight end in catches (592), yards (6,569) and touchdown receptions (45) when they play at FedEx Field. In two games against the Redskins Miller had four receptions for 46 yards and a touchdown. Miller’s retirement does clear $4 million in cap space for Pittsburgh.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 41 days ago. It will be about 205 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 4; NFL free agency starts 18; 2016 NFL draft 68

In case you missed it

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

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USA Today Sports Images

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.)