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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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