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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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Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

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Associated Press

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

Even though it was a bright, warm Wednesday in Ashburn the Redskins held their OTA session in the practice bubble because recent rains have left their outdoor fields to soggy to use. Here are my observations from the practice:

—A few Redskins were not present and a few who were there were not participating in the drills. Jay Gruden said that OT Trent Williams is rehabbing in Texas and that LB Zach Brown is in the process of relocating to the Washington area. RB Chris Thompson and OT Morgan Moses were present, but both were spectators. 

— It should be noted that even though Moses didn’t practice and is still rehabbing after ankle surgery, he still participated in the sideline-to-sideline running the team does at the end of practice.

—At rookie camp, RB Derrius Guice was first in line to do every drill. Today, he gave way to the veterans to all take their reps and then he went first among the rookies. 

— “Fat Rob” Kelley never really was fat but he is now lean and mean. He also seems to be a half step quicker than he was in the past. Added competition in the form of second- and fourth-round picks being added at your position will do that to a player. 

—The “starting” offensive line from left to right was Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, and John Kling. The interior could well start the season; the tackle position awaits the returns of Williams, Scherff, and Ty Nsekhe. 

—RB Byron Marshall, who was on the team briefly last year before getting injured, looked very quick with good acceleration.

—CB Josh Norman was back with the group fielding punts. I seriously doubt that he will handle any kicks in games, even preseason games, but perhaps with DeAngelo Hall being gone he wants to be available as an emergency option. Also back with the punt returners were CB Danny Johnson, CB Greg Stroman, WR Maurice Harris, WR De’Mornay Pierson-El, and, of course, WR Jamison Crowder.

—S D.J. Swearinger spent most of the special teams practice on the sideline working on catching passes with his hands extended away from his body. A little while later, he had a chance to make an interception with his arms extended. Of course, he dropped it. 

—It seems like QB Alex Smith and Crowder have some good rapport built already. Once on the right sideline and a few minutes later on the left, Smith threw a well-placed ball into Crowder, who was well covered on both occasions. 

—Eventually, CB Orlando Scandrick caught on and he swatted down a quick out to Crowder. 

—With Brown out, Josh Harvey-Clemons was with the first unit at inside linebacker. He’s still skinny but less so than he was last year. The second-year player was impressive in coverage, staying with Crowder step for step on a deep pass down the middle.

—The play of the day was a deep pass down the right side from Smith to WR Paul Richardson. Stroman was with the receiver step for step on the 9 route but Smith laid the ball out perfectly and Richardson made a lunging catch. Even though it doesn’t have to under the new rule, the catch did survive the ground. 

—WR Cam Sims had a few impressive plays. On one, QB Colt McCoy lofted one high in the air down the right side. Sims kept his focus on the ball while two defenders lost it and made the catch. 

—WR Trey Quinn had his moments. He made a good grab while being bumped by Scandrick. But a while later he dropped a fairly easy one. 

—The running backs all looked good but Guice looked the best of all of them. He had an ability to cut and maintain his speed that not many have. With the warning that they were playing with no pads with no contact and not at full speed, Guice’s vision appeared to be outstanding. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- The draft: Redskins should get 4 additional picks in 2019 draft
- Schedule series: Gotta beat the Cowboys

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 @TandlerNBCS.

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NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

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USA TODAY Sports

NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that allows players to remain in the locker room if they prefer but requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance.

This new policy subjects teams, but not players, to fines if any team personnel do not show appropriate respect for the anthem. 

Teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction separately though. 

The NFL Players Association released it's own statement after the news was made official.