With Cowboys help, Redskins have clear path to playoffs - except for wacky tie scenario


After the Cowboys beat the Lions on Monday night, in turn helping the Redskins, the path to the playoffs for Kirk Cousins and Washington is clear - except for one obscure scenario. 

Dallas has locked up the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC, and beating the Lions drops Detroit's record to 9-6. That means the Redskins will make the playoffs as long as they beat the Giants next week on New Year's Day. 

Unless it doesn't.

Next Sunday, the Lions will play the Packers, and Green Bay also has a 9-6 record. The overwhelming odds say that the victor of the game between Detroit and Green Bay will win the NFC North and the other team will miss the postseason.


But a sliver of a possibility remains to keep Washington out of the playoffs, even if they beat the Giants: If the Packers and Lions finish in a tie, then the 'Skins are out.

In that scenario, all three teams would finish 9-6-1, and Green Bay would win the NFC North by virtue of a head-to-head win over the Lions in Week 3. And thanks to a Week 7 win over the Redskins, the Lions would get the 6th and final NFC playoff spot instead of Washington. 

The odds of a tie in the NFL are small, but it will be a frequent topic of discussion this week that the Packers and Lions would mutually benefit from the result. It's silly to think either team would play for the tie - both teams obviously would prefer to win the division and get a home playoff game - but should a close game linger into overtime, it would not be a surprise if either coach played conservative, knowing a tie would still result in a playoff game. 


In his Monday press conference, Jay Gruden made clear he would have his Redskins team focused solely on the Giants, as that is all his squad can control. That's the right attitude, regardless of the bizarre tie scenario looming.