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Playoffs!. . .Playoffs???

Playoffs!. . .Playoffs???

You can reach me by email at rtandler@comcast.net

Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins. Get details and order at http://GutCheckBook.com

You come here to get the skinny on what needs to happen for the Redskins to make the playoffs. You get it.

I was ready to write a long complicated article here, but it’s really, really simple. Even though there are literally thousands of possible combinations of how the 11 teams with from six to eight losses could finish up, it boils down to this:

If the Redskins win out to finish at 8-8, they will be in the playoffs for certain unless one of three things happens:

Two other non-division winners finish with nine or more wins. Obviously, this would bump the Redskins out on the basis of record.

OR

The Packers or a Ram team that lost to the Jets are one of the teams that finish 8-8. That would not necessarily eliminate the Redskins, but if they should emerge from the tiebreakers in the NFC North (I’ll explain this little-noted NFL tiebreaker feature in a moment), the Pack would beat the Redskins out on the basis of their Halloween day win in FedEx and the Rams could get in ahead of Washington on the basis of other tiebreakers.

If you’ve made it this far through this blog, you are probably familiar with the NFL tiebreaking procedures, which you can find here: http://www.nfl.com/standings/tiebreakers Here are the procedures for a Wild Card tie among three or more teams. Pay particular attention to the first one on the list:

Three or More Clubs (for Wild Card)

1. Apply division tie breaker to eliminate all but the highest ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step 2.

2. Head-to-head sweep. (Applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others.)

3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.

4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.

5. Strength of victory.

6. Strength of schedule.

7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.

8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.

9. Best net points in conference games.

10. Best net points in all games.

11. Best net touchdowns in all games.

12. Coin toss So, only one team will “represent” each division in the Wild Card tiebreaker. If the Redskins win out, they will be the NFC East team in the mix if the Cowboys and/or Giants also finish at 8-8. Head to head wouldn’t matter as the Redskins would have split with both. The Redskins would be 3-3 in the division and that is the best either Dallas or New York could be.

It would then come down to conference record. And here’s the thing that makes it so simple for the Redskins. If they win out, they will be 8-4 in the conference. Except for Philadelphia, and they’re not in the discussion here, no other NFC team except the Rams that finishes 8-8 can finish with any better than a 7-5 NFC record.

That would give the Redskins the tiebreaker within the division. They would then advance on to matching up against any representatives from the other three divisions. From the West, that could be the Rams, Seahawks, or Cardinals. The Redskins will not have played any of those teams so it will come down to conference record. Seattle’s and Arizona’s would be worse that theirs, so the Skins would prevail there. St. Louis could also finish at 8-4 in the NFC, so it would go down the list. There aren’t four common games, so it would come down to strength of victory and it’s way too early to judge that (although a Redskin win over Philly would certainly boost that).

Atlanta needs just one more win to clinch the South, but if they collapse to 8-8 the Redskins would beat them out. Washington beat Tampa Bay head to head and 8-8 New Orleans and Carolina teams would be 7-5 in the conference at best.

And, in the North, an 8-8 Redskins team would have beaten Detroit, Chicago, and Minnesota and would have lost to Green Bay. Now the Packers are 7-5 and it would take a 1-3 finish for them to finish at 8-8, so it’s best just to pull for them to win a couple more. If they do end up in that mix, it would depend on who they beat to determine if they emerge from the North for that win over Washington to do them any good.

So who do you root for this Sunday before settling in at 8:30 to watch the Redskins? Pull for:

  • Jacksonville to beat Chicago
  • New Orleans to beat Dallas
  • Green Bay to beat Detroit
  • St. Louis to beat Carolina (this one is borderline, but Carolina needs to be cooled off lest they keep rolling and end up with 9 wins)
  • Baltimore to beat the Giants
  • San Diego to beat Tampa Bay

Seattle at Minnesota is a tough one. They’re both tied for their respective division leads with the teams that the Redskins don’t want in the tiebreaker mix, the Rams and Packers. Since you want one both of them in the 8-8 Wild Card mix, I’d say got for Seattle since they have the worse record at 6-6. But the Redskins fans really can’t win or lose in this one.

Should the Redskins still be alive after this Sunday I’ll produce another “root for” list next week.

I’m doing this mostly for fun. It will take 7 teams to lose a combined 8 out of 28 games for the Redskins to make the playoffs (that’s Dallas, New York, Detroit, Chicago, Carolina, and Tampa Bay losing one each and Seattle finishing out 2-2). And, oh by the way, the Redskins going 4-0.

I’m not betting the ranch on the chances of making the playoffs—I wouldn’t even bet the dog house at this point. But if they can beat the Eagles and a good number of the “root fors” come through on Sunday, it gets into the “stranger things have happened” category.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 23, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins  and NBC Sports Washington.

Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense—NFL coaches and others like to tell you that competition determines who wins roster spots in the league. And that may be true to an extent. But many roster spots are predetermined by a player’s contract situation and/or draft status. It is unlikely that an undrafted player like Fish Smithson will win a roster spot over Troy Apke even if the former outperforms the latter in every way during training camp. Apke was a fourth-round pick and they aren’t going to give up on him in favor of an undrafted player. It would cost $3.2 million in dead cap to cut Stacy McGee and only $150,000 to move on from Ziggy Hood so McGee will win a “competition” that is even remotely close. (Offensive projection here)

Redskins will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor at training camp—While this is something that could add a little spice to the Jets’ visit to Richmond, don’t look for much of anything to happen. Zach Brown might give a little extra shove to Pryor here and there but he’s not going to do anything that will draw blood or even cause a deep bruise. If nothing else, a big hit on Pryor would invite retaliation by the Jets on Josh Doctson or Paul Richardson. And that might lead to more retaliation and you end up with a brawl like the Redskins and Texans had a couple of years ago.

Trent Williams very much of approves of Smith and Guice—Williams is going into his ninth NFL season and he has yet to be on the winning side of a playoff game. He thinks that Alex Smith and Derrius Guice can help change that. 

The curious case of Alex Smith and the NFL Top 100 list—I normally greet this list with a big yawn and this year was no exception. But I do find the omission of Smith, who led the NFL in passer rating and was third in adjusted net yards per attempt, odd. In an update to this post, the NFL released the names of the top 10 players and Smith is not on it. He shouldn’t be, but he should be somewhere on the 100, perhaps in the middle of the pack. The only Redskins player to appear on the list was Trent Williams at No. 57.

The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger—It’s likely that nine players who are 25 or younger will line up as starters for the Redskins this year. I don’t have a rundown of how that compares to the rest of the league but it’s notable that in the last two years six of them have replaced players who were either approaching age 30 or over it. I’ll engage in some speculation here and say that five of the young players—Daron Payne, Derrius Guice, Preston Smith, Jonathan Allen, and Montae Nicholson—are good enough to potentially make a Pro Bowl at some point in their careers. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Former Redskins defensive tackle Dave Butz was born on this date in 1950. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 33
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 47
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 70

The Redskins last played a game 174 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 78 days. 

In case you missed it

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Redskins schedule preview: Week 16 vs. Titans

Redskins schedule preview: Week 16 vs. Titans

We’re previewing every game of the 2018 season with a look forward and a look back. Up today, it’s the game against the Titans. 

Week 16 December 22 or 23, Nissan Stadium (the date of the game will be determined no later than Week 8 in early November)

2017 Titans: 9-7, Second in AFC South, lost in the divisional round 

Projected 2018 wins per Westgate SuperBook: 8

Early line: Redskins +5.5

Key additions: CB Malcolm Butler, DT Bennie Logan, RB Dion Lewis

Key losses: DT Sylvester Williams, RB DeMarco Murray

Biggest questions: 

  • QB Marcus Mariota improved from his rookie year and had a solid 2016. But he regressed last season. In which direction is his career headed?
  • After head coach Mike Mularkey took the Titans to the second round of the playoffs he was summarily fired. Will they regret making to switch to Mike Vrabel?

Series history

The all-time series between the two teams is tied a 6-6; the teams split six games when the franchise was the Houston Oilers and they have gong 3-3 since the move to Tennessee. 

Series notables

The first time: October 10, 1971, RFK Stadium—The Redskins offense didn’t score a touchdown but that often didn’t matter when George Allen was the head coach as they still won 22-13. Washington’s scoring came on five Curt Knight field goals and on an 18-yard interception return by defensive end Ron McDole. That touchdown came on one of five takeaways by the Redskins defense. 

The last time: October 19, 2014, FedEx Field—Quarterback Kirk Cousins was struggling in the first half, losing a fumble and throwing a head-scratching interception. With the Redskins trailing the 2-4 Titans 10-6, Jay Gruden decided it was time for a change and Colt McCoy came in to play QB in the second half. 

Things clicked immediately as McCoy threw a short pass to Pierre Garçon, who turned upfield and rolled in for a 70-yard touchdown. It was back and forth in the second half and the Redskins were trailing 17-16 when they got the ball on their own 20 with 3:14 to play. McCoy led a 10-play drive that consumed all of the remaining time and culminated in a 22-yard Kai Forbath field goal to win it 19-17. 

The best time: November 3, 1991, RFK Stadium—To win nine straight NFL games to start out a season, you need solid blocking, accurate passing, hard-hitting tackling, inspired play calling, crisp execution and, as was the case today, a little bit of luck. Chip Lohmiller kicked a 41-yard field goal for Washington to give the Redskins a 16-13 overtime win over Houston. Darrell Green’s interception at the Houston 33 set up the kick. All of that, however, would not have happened if not for Oiler placekicker Ian Howfield. 

After Houston tied the game on a one-yard run by Lorenzo White with 1:42 left in the game, Brian Mitchell fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving the Oilers prime field position. Howfield came in for a 33-yard field goal attempt with one second left. It appeared that the winning streak would end at eight. “You don’t exactly give up, but you’re not far from it,” said Andre Collins. 

The snap was perfect as was the hold, but Howfield’s kick was wide right. 

On Houston’s second offensive play of overtime, Oiler quarterback Warren Moon got bumped as he threw an out pass and Green picked it off. Three Ernest Byner runs preceded Lohmiller’s game-ending kick. 

The worst time: October 30, 1988, Astrodome—Washington entered the contest riding a three-game winning streak and appeared to be rounding into form to defend their Super Bowl title. Warren Moon threw three touchdown passes to Drew Hill, however, and the Redskins took a 41-17 whipping that wasn’t even as close as the final score would indicate.

Redskins schedule series

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  and on Instagram @RichTandler