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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bears

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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bears

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 13, the day the Washington Redskins play the Bears in Chicago.

Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bears

CHICAGO—Final thoughts as the Redskins get set to play yet another most important game of the season.

—The weather forecast has changed from steady rain to some rain before kickoff but a dry window for the game from about 11 a.m. local time until about 3:00. It might be a bit windy but not by Chicago standards. The Redskins may or may not win but it doesn’t look like weather will be a factor.

—One reason why the Redskins didn’t allow either the Giants or the Cowboys over 100 yards rushing (33 yds. to Giants, 97 to Cowboys) is that they tackled well. In their first 10 games they averaged 9.8 missed tackles per game. Against New York and Dallas they missed six tackles combined in the two games (5 vs. NYG, 1 vs. DAL). If they can keep that up their chances of getting their first win will be greatly improved.

—I think it’s asking a lot to expect Pierre Thomas to contribute much on Sunday after signing with the Redskins on Friday. One light practice, one walkthrough, and about 48 hours to learn the terminology is just not enough to be able to do much, especially after having played just four snaps of football (for the 49ers in Week 9) all year. We could see him active since Chris Thompson will be out with the labrum injury and maybe he’ll get a few carries. But the primary running backs will be Matt Jones and Alfred Morris.

—Even when the Redskins weren’t running the ball well through the first nine games of the season they were doing well on third down, converting at a 45 percent clip. Over the last three games, however, they have been converting at 30 percent. They obviously need to revert to the efficiency they achieved during the earlier part of the season if they are going to win down the stretch.

—It’s difficult to “read” a locker room sometimes. It seemed to me and to some others that the Redskins’ hangover from their tough, late loss on Monday night lingered a little late into the week. They seemed to be a little bit distracted as they tried to hone in on the Bears. But sometimes that hangover from a loss transforms into an underdog, us against the world, against all odds type of mentality. So I’m not going to be in the business of projecting the team’s mindset today. The Redskins should be able to move the ball against the Bears bad rushing defense and so-so pass defense. If the defense plays as well as it has in the last two weeks the Redskins have a pretty good shot at avoiding what would be a 10th straight road loss, the worst such streak in team history.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins @ Bears 1 p.m. FOX

Days until: Bills @ Redskins 7; Redskins @ Eagles 13; Redskins @Cowboys 21

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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.)