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Ranking the possible Wild Card round playoff opponents for the Redskins

Ranking the possible Wild Card round playoff opponents for the Redskins

Playoff pairings dominate the conversation surrounding the Redskins right now, and though Washington is currently still outside the NFC postseason, a win on Sunday against the Giants will put the 'Skins back in the playoffs for the second-straight year. For conversation's sake, assume Jay Gruden's team wins on Sunday, and take a look at the best possible playoff opponents for the Burgundy and Gold.

What makes for the best opponent? A beatable team.

The NFL in January is all about advancing to the next game, and that's what Redskins fans should want more than anything else. These rankings might not reflect results from this season. In fact, they won't. Take into account how a team is playing now, not how they played in October, and injuries. For ranking purposes, the Cowboys and Giants won't be listed. Dallas has locked up the No. 1 overall seed, so the Redskins cannot meet their rival until the Divisional Round of the playoffs. The Giants are locked into the No. 5 seed, which means the 'Skins could only face New York in an NFC Championship Game.

Here we go:

  1. Detroit Lions - Sure, the Lions beat the Redskins way back in Week 7, but Washington mostly dominated that game. A red zone fumble from Matt Jones likely cost the 'Skins the win, or a missed field goal from Dustin Hopkins. Either way, it's hard to think Kirk Cousins and company could not beat a Lions team with a negative point differential on the season and a banged up QB in Matt Stafford. Oh yeah, the Lions might not even make the playoffs if they lose to Green Bay Sunday night. 
  2. Green Bay Packers - The Redskins thrashed the Packers in late November, winning 42-24 and avenging a playoff loss to Green Bay last season. Since that game, however, the Packers haven't lost. Aaron Rodgers has his team on a five-game win streak, and they've scored at least 30 points in each of the last three victories. Traveling to Lambeau Field for a playoff game would be a daunting task, especially considering how hot the Packers appear to be, but dig a little deeper and cracks emerge. In back to back weeks, the Packers defense has given up a combined 52 points to the Bears and Vikings. It's well known that the Redskins defense has struggled this year, but they held those common opponents to 11 points less, and frankly, the Bears game was never close. Green Bay is a good team and deserves respect for contending nearly every season, but 'Skins fans should not fear the Pack.
  3. Atlanta Falcons - This game could be fun. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Kyle Shanahan against Kirk Cousins, DeSean Jackson and Sean McVay. It's likely the Falcons end up with a first-round bye, and if Washington is going to face Atlanta, it would have to come later in the playoffs. In their past three games, the explosive Falcons offense has scored at least 33 points with two other 40-point games. The Redskins defense would probably be ill-equipped to keep up with ATL.
  4. Seattle Seahawks - Somehow, this seems the most likely destination for the Redskins, and in a twisted way, it's obvious. Three of the Redskins last four playoff runs have been ended at the hands of the Seahawks, including the surreal scene at FedEx Field in 2012 when Robert Griffin III fell in a heap with an injured knee. The Seahawks have been in the Super Bowl in two of the last three years, and playing in Seattle is arguably the most distinct home field advantage in the NFL. There are fans on Twitter excited by the prospect of the 'Skins finally beating the Seahawks in the playoffs, but that challenge would be great. It could happen, however, as the 'Hawks have actually suffered a home loss this season, and the Seattle offense has scored seven less TDs than the 'Skins this season. 

MORE REDSKINS: Every relevant NFL playoff scenario for Week 17

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

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Usa Today Sports Images

Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 24, 18 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The five highest-paid Redskins in 2018

Originally published 1/12/18

This is how the five highest-paid Redskins per their 2018 salary cap numbers stack up as of now. The list could change, of course during free agency and if a particular quarterback returns. Cap numbers via Over the Cap.

CB Josh Norman, $17 million—The Redskins do have a window which would allow them to move on from Norman. His $13.5 million salary for this year doesn’t become guaranteed until the fifth day of the league year so it would be “only” a $9 million cap charge to move on from Norman, who turned 30 in December. Don’t look for that to happen but the possibility is there.

OT Trent Williams, $13.86 million—He is one of the best left tackles in the business. Those of you out there who have advocated moving him to left guard should look at this cap number, which is way out of line for what a team can afford to pay a guard. At his pay, he needs to be playing on the edge.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan, $12.45 million—He has delivered double-digit sacks in each of the two seasons that his contract extension has been in effect. That’s good value in a league that values the ability to get to the quarterback.

TE Jordan Reed, $10.14 million—The Redskins knew that he might have a year like last year when he played in only six games when they agreed to Reed’s five-year, $50 million extension. They can live with one such season. If he has another one in 2018 they may rethink things.

G Brandon Scherff, $6.75 million—The fact that a rookie contract is No. 5 on this list is a good sign that, as of now, the Redskins’ cap is not top heavy like it was last year. The top three cap hits from Norman, Williams, and Kirk Cousins totaled $59 million, which was about 35 percent of the cap. This year the total cap numbers of the top three come to $43.3 million, 24.3 percent of the estimated $178 million salary cap.

Next five: OT Morgan Moses ($5.4 million), TE Vernon Davis ($5.33 million), DL Stacy McGee ($4.8 million), DL Terrell McClain ($4.75 million), S D.J. Swearinger ($4.33 million)

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 5
—NFL Draft (4/26) 61
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 197

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Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

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USA TODAY Sports

Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

A 2017 midseason trade for Martavis Bryant made no sense for the Redskins. A 2018 offseason trade for Martavis Bryant, however, might make sense for the Redskins. 

Bryant is on the trade block, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and will be an intriguing prospect for receiver-needy teams across the NFL. In parts of three seasons with the Steelers, Bryant has 17 touchdowns and a 15.2 yards-per-reception average. 

A big play threat from any place on the field, Bryant would immediately make the Redskins receiving unit more athletic and explosive. 

It's not all good news with Bryant, though.

He was suspended for the entire 2016 season after repeated drug violations and caused some distraction for Pittsburgh during the 2017 season when he asked for a trade via social media. 

MORE: CAN YOU GUESS THESE REDSKINS BASED ON THEIR COMBINE NUMBERS?

Is the talent enough to overcome the off-field distractions? Many would say it is. 

Last year, in just eight starts, Bryant grabbed 50 catches for more than 600 yards and three TDs. In their lone playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bryant caught two passes for 78 yards and a TD. 

Remember, too, the Steelers have an explosive offense, and Bryant is coupled with Antonio Brown on the receiver front along with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le'Veon Bell at running back. The Pittsburgh offense is loaded. 

Washington's offense is not nearly the prolific unit that the Steelers send out, but Jay Gruden does design a good offense. 

The real question surrounding any talk of trading for Bryant is the cost.

The Redskins are not in a position to send away any more draft picks this offseason after giving up a third-round pick, in addition to Kendall Fuller, to acquire Alex Smith. Bruce Allen and the Redskins front office need to improve their team in plenty of spots, and the team's draft picks are quite valuable. 

Bryant only has one year remaining on his rookie deal, and it's hard to balance that sort of short-term investment with the value of adding a rookie committed to the team for at least four years. Perhaps a late-round pick would make sense, but it would need to be a sixth-rounder. 

This could be one of those rare situations in the NFL where a player for player swap could work, though pulling that type of maneuver requires a lot of moving parts. 

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