The Redskins have been handed an opportunity. Now they need to take advantage of it.
The Dallas Cowboys did their division foes a solid, beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-20 on Sunday night football. The loss dropped the Bucs to 8-6. If the Redskins beat the Panthers tonight they will be 8-5-1 and in position to be the sixth seed in the playoffs.
Here are the realistic wild card playoff contenders in order of their current seeding and their remaining schedules:
Giants (10-4): @Eagles, @Redskins
Redskins (7-5-1): Panthers, @Bears, Giants
Packers (8-6): Vikings, @Lions
Bucs (8-6): @Saints, Panthers
The Redskins’ road to the playoffs is simple — win and in. If they win their remaining three games they will be 10-5-1. The Packers and Bucs can get to 10 wins but they would have six losses each and Washington would have a better winning percentage.
If they win tonight the Redskins could clinch a playoff berth on Christmas Eve if they beat the Bears and the Packers lose to the Vikings at home and the Bucs fall in New Orleans. That seems unlikely, especially the Packers, Vikings result, but nobody thought that Green Bay would need a late Aaron Rodgers bomb to Jordy Nelson and a field goal as time expired to beat the Bears on Sunday.
Washington could also sneak its way in next week with a win tonight and, in Week 16, victory over the Bears, a Tampa Bay loss, a Green Bay tie and as long as the Lions-Cowboys game does not end in a tie, according to NFL Tiebreaker expert Joe Ferreira (@joenfl).
With three games left there are plenty of other paths for the Redskins to get to the playoffs without winning out. Per the website FiveThirtyEight.com the Redskins have between a 68 percent chance and a 72 percent chance of getting to the playoffs if they win two of their last three. That’s a lot less than the 100 percent chance that a 3-0 finish would bring but it points out the fact that there still is a lot of football to played.
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For now, the Redskins just need to take care of business tonight. Per FiveThirtyEight.com a win tonight moves their playoff chances from 53 percent to 72 percent. That would be a good start.
RELATED: Week 16 playoff scenarioshttp://www.csnmidatlantic.com/washington-redskins/week-16-playoff-scenarios-cowboys-and-patriots-try-lock-homefield