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Week 14 Playoff Scenarios: Cowboys and Patriots can earn playoff byes

Week 14 Playoff Scenarios: Cowboys and Patriots can earn playoff byes

Just when you thought it was going to stay tight in various NFL divisions, 2016 Week 13 came along.

We saw the Dallas Cowboys gain a firm three-game lead in the NFC East, the Detroit Lions jump out to a two-game lead over the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers in the NFC North, the Seattle Seahawks maintain its three-game lead in the NFC West and the New England Patriots vault to a three-game lead in the AFC East.

Other division races remain either tied (NFC South, AFC North and AFC South) or within one game at the top (AFC West).

That separation in various divisions has us looking at three division title clinching scenarios this week. The Cowboys and Patriots can clinch first-round playoff byes, with Dallas also having a shot at claiming homefield advantage throughout the playoffs as the #1 seed.

Before we get to those scenarios and one involving the Oakland Raiders gaining a playoff berth, let's recap Week 13.  

With the Cowboys' win over the Vikings last Thursday and the Redskins' loss at the Cardinals, Dallas clinched a playoff berth.

Week 13 is the earliest the Cowboys have clinched a playoff spot since 2007 when they clinched playoffs in Week 13, division title in Week 14, a playoff bye in Week 15 and homefield advantage Week 16. That was also the year the 10-6 New York Giants beat the 13-3 Cowboys on the road in the Divisional Round 21-17. 

Two teams were also eliminated from playoff contention during Week. The Jacksonville Jaguars' loss to the Denver Broncos elimianted the Jags from the playoffs. The same applies to the New York Jets following their loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football. 

Jacksonville has failed to make the playoffs since 2007 and the NY Jets haven't seen Postseason since 2010. That leaves 28 teams in Super Bowl contention with four weeks to play which is 5th best in last 9 years, but 3 off last year's record number of 31 teams in contention.

QUIZ TIME: Which NFL team hasn't made the playoffs in ANY YEAR since the League realigned in 2002? Answer Below (and it might surprise you).

HERE ARE YOUR 2016 WEEK 14 OFFICIAL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS: 

DALLAS COWBOYS
   Dallas clinches division title:
    1) DAL win
   Dallas clinches a first-round bye:
    1) DAL win + DET loss or tie
    2) DAL win + SEA loss
   Dallas clinches homefield advantage throughout NFC playoffs:
    1) DAL win + DET loss or tie + SEA loss

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
   Seattle clinches division title:
    1) SEA win + ARI loss or tie
    2) SEA tie + ARI loss

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
   New England clinches division title:
    1) NE win + MIA loss or tie
    2) NE tie + MIA loss
   New England clinches a first-round bye:
    1) NE win + MIA loss or tie + PIT loss or tie

OAKLAND RAIDERS
   Oakland clinches a playoff berth:
    1) OAK win + MIA loss or tie
    2) OAK win + DEN loss
    3) OAK tie + MIA loss + BAL loss or tie
    4) OAK tie + MIA loss + PIT loss or tie  

MORE NFL: SHOULD THE REDSKINS' OL TAKE SOME OF BLAME FOR RECENT LOSS?

The Raiders' situation is interesting since they have two-team tiebreaker advantage over both the Patriots and Miami Dolphins (whichever one doesn't win the division when looking at playoff berth clinching scenarios).

You then have to look to see if either the Dolphins or Patriotrs can use the Kansas City Chiefs or Denver Broncos to jump over the Raiders in this exercise.

Miami loses tiebreaker to Denver based on common opponents and can't use Kansas City since there is no scenario where the three-way KC-OAK-DEN tie ends with the Broncos finishing first, Chiefs second and Raiders third. Kansas City would win the AFC West in that tiebreaker in this scenario no matter what happens in future games after this Thursday. 

However, the Dolphins can use the Chiefs if the Broncos ties this week instead of loses and the Broncos win the division at 11-4-1 and Cheifs and Raiders tie at 11-5. New England can beat Kansas City and jump Oakland in that same Denver division winner scenario. Thus. .. the need for a Denver loss with Oakland win as one clinching option this week.

TIEBREAKER NOTES AND ANECDOTES:
- If the Cowboys were to clinch the #1 seed this week, not only will it be interesting to see what they do with playing time for Tony Romo and the rookies, but it will also mean that Dallas won't have "must-win" motivation when they face the Buccaneers in Week 15 and the Lions' Week 16... two teams firmly in the playoff hunt.

- If the Patriots clinch the AFC East title this week, it will be their eighth consecutive division title  and 13 titles in the last 14 years. Amazing.

- If the Cowboys were to clinch the #1 seed in week 14, it will be the earliest any NFL team has accomplished that since the 2009 Indianapolis Colts (who also did the same thing in 2005). No NFC team has clinched the #1 seed with three weeks to play since the 1985 Chicago Bears. Super Bowl Shuffle anyone? 

We also have five teams that can be eliminated from playoff contention this week with two teams in the AFC (that would add to Cleveland, Jacksonville and NY Jets already gone) and three teams in the NFC (potentially adding to San Francisco that exited week 12).

CINCINNATI BENGALS

Cincinnati will be eliminated from playoff contention:

1) CIN loss
2) CIN tie + DEN win or tie + PIT win
3) CIN tie + DEN win or tie + BAL win
4) CIN tie + DEN win or tie + PIT tie + BAL tie
5) PIT win + DEN win + BAL win

 

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
San Diego will be eliminated from playoff contention:
1) SD loss + DEN win or tie
2) SD tie + DEN win

 CHICAGO BEARS
Chicago will be eliminated from playoff contention:
1) CHI loss or tie
2) WAS win
3) ATL win or tie + TB win or tie
4) ATL win or tie + ARI win
5) MIN win or tie + GB win
6) MIN win + GB tie
7) NO win + ARI win + CAR win
8) NO win + ARI win + CAR tie + WAS tie

 CAROLINA PANTHERS
Carolina will be eliminated from playoff contention:
1) CAR loss + WAS win
2) CAR loss + ATL win or tie
3) CAR loss + MIN win or tie + GB win
4) CAR loss + MIN win + GB tie
5) CAR loss + CHI win + WAS tie + MIN win
6) CAR loss + CHI win + WAS tie + GB win
7) CAR loss + CHI win + WAS tie + MIN tie + GB tie
8) CAR tie + TB win + ATL win

LOS ANGELES RAMS
Los Angeles will be eliminated from playoff contention:
1) LA loss

The need for the Washington tie elements in the Carolina elimination scenario revolve around giving Washington a second tie and having the Redskins finish 6-8-2 (equal to 7-9) at worst and tying the Panthers at 7-9. 

When you couple that with a Chicago win and the Bears playing Washington, Green Bay and Minnesota to finish the year, it creates a scenario where Washington losing out would give the Bears another win in addition to Carolina needing the Bears to beat Minnesota and Green Bay and Carolina can't use the potential head-to-head win against the Redskins to their advantage for the #6 seed.

QUIZ ANSWER: The Buffalo Bills have not made the playoffs since realignment in 2002 (only NFL team) and haven't made the playoffs since 1999 which be remembered as the year Buffalo lost to Tennessee in the Wild Card Playoffs 22-16 in what is known as the "Music City Miracle". Can you say Frank Wycheck?

PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS FOLLOWING WEEK 12:

AFC                

  1. New England Patriots        
  2. Kansas City Chiefs        
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers        
  4. Houston Texans            
  5. Oakland Raiders            
  6. Denver Broncos            

NFC

  1. Dallas Cowboys
  2. Seattle Seahawks (jumps ATL for #2)
  3. Atlanta Falcons
  4. Detroit Lions
  5. New York Giants
  6. Washington Redskins (need to go 3-1 vs. TB 2-2)

Enjoy Week 14 and best of luck to your favorite team!

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2019 NFL Draft: Sleepers, Redskins OL plan, Drew Lock defining 'boom or bust'

2019 NFL Draft: Sleepers, Redskins OL plan, Drew Lock defining 'boom or bust'

The 2019 NFL Draft coverage rolls on.

In addition to the updated two-round NFL mock draft, Big Board and our look at different 7-round, Redskins-only mock drafts (paths one and two are available now), we dive into some news and notes pertaining to the Redskins, the quarterback prospects, Trent Williams and the 2019 class overall.

* Florida State’s Brian Burns and Michigan’s Rashan Gary are generally lumped into the same edge rusher bucket despite a 30-pound weight disparity: Burns tips the scales around 245 pounds versus Gary’s 277. Another variance comes with production.

The 245-pound Burns, a true speed threat, finished with 10 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in 2018. Gary, one of the top recruits in 2016, finished with 9.5 sacks – in 34 games over three seasons with the Wolverines, along with 23 tackles for loss.

Stats alone do not explain a player’s draft value, but Gary’s lack of production makes the 277-pounder one of the more polarizing prospects. His draft range projection goes from top 10 to end of the first round. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay ranks Gary sixth overall, with Burns at 22.

The latest NBC Sports Washington 2019 NFL mock draft has the Redskins selecting Burns at 15, two slots after the Dolphins snag Gary.

The primary fear with Burns among league sources is strength. “He has speed, quickness, but big bodies will wear him down,” a league scout said. Even if Burns adds weight, he won’t have desired natural power of a player like Gary, who can move offensive lineman wherever he lines up.

“He’ll be better in the pros than college,” the scout said of Gary. That’s what teams considering a top pick on Gary are counting on. As for Burns, the Redskins defense lacked speed across the board last season and they already have a power option in Ryan Anderson."

* Earlier this week, I wrote about the idea of using the 15th overall pick to trade for Josh Rosen rather than spending the first-round pick on draft prospects Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock or Daniel Jones. Posing that concept to league sources led to opinions on the three incoming passers rated behind projected No. 1 overall selection Kyler Murray.

These comments likely won’t lead anyone to a conclusion, other than perhaps my general take that the passion largely isn’t there for this trio, at least in comparison to the four quarterbacks selected in the top 10 last season.

Lock received the most positive mentions – “I think he is the best in the draft (including Murray)” – but the doubters also existed.

“Lock makes me nervous,” said a former general manager, who mentioned recent first-round picks like Blake Bortles and Christian Ponder as comparisons. “Not great with intermediate and deep throws. Bad decisions. Everything underneath."

NFL Draft analyst Tony Pauline expressed concern. “Lock is the poster boy for boom or bust QB,” Pauline told NBC Sports Washington.

Lock posted gaudy stats -- 76 touchdown passes over the last two seasons -- but finished his career completing 56 percent of his passes.

The previous Big Board included a league source stating, “The buzz on Jones in the first and possibly fairly high is 1000 percent real.” That sense continues.

AFC scout: “Go with Jones if there.”

Former GM: “Daniel Jones over Lock. Can trust him more. He’s ready.”

League source: “Jones is mentally strong and very talented. He’s the safer pick. I also love his physical tools. … Would love to see Jones play instinctive. … Jones has the build you want and is more athletic than Rosen. Gotta be able to move in this league.”

As for Haskins, Pauline, the main voice with DraftAnalyst.com, said he would lean toward the Ohio State standout. Others even in praise used the term “risky” when describing the strong-armed but slow-moving passer.

Analyst: “Haskins is the best on the list, but all are risky at 15.”

* Everyone likes sleepers. Here are some prospects projected outside the first two rounds league sources have positively mentioned in recent days. They are listed in order of likely selection: Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State, Emanuel Hall, WR, Missouri, Foster Moreau, TE, LSU, Jahlani Tavai, ILB, Hawaii, Isaiah Johnson, CB, Houston, Drew Sample, TE, Washington, KeeSean Johnson, WR, Fresno State, Malik Gant, S, Marshall, Evan Worthington, S, Colorado, Byron Cowart, DL, Maryland, Darrin Hall, RB, Pittsburgh, Tyree Brady, WR, Marshall, Keenan Brown, TE, Texas State.

* Back to the passers, West Virginia’ Will Grier is often cited as the fifth QB in this class, but that’s not exactly written in stone. Some public big board’s drop the gunslinger into the 3-4 round draft range. Whenever Grier goes, the three most likely destinations, according to a league source, are the Giants, Panthers and Redskins. Washington picks one spot ahead of Carolina in the second round.

* Maryland safety Darnell Savage is making moves up draft boards. Last week a league source offered a 25-45 draft range projection for the cover safety. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah told reporters on a conference call Thursday he could see Savage going off the board in the first.

* Are the Redskins likely to go with an offensive lineman in the first? It’s certainly possible considering the left guard concerns and talent available. NBC Sports Washington reported Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom visited the Redskins Park last week. Oklahoma’s Cody Ford and Alabama’s Jonah Williams are projected to go in the middle of the first round.

Beyond the immediate guard issue consider the following, especially with players in mind like Ford and Williams who played tackle in college.

Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams will turn 32 ahead of the 2020 season. His salary for the final year of his contract is $14.65 million, but only $1.9 million is guaranteed.

The belief is the organization wants the fourth overall pick in 2010 to retire a Redskin. The reality is Williams, who remains one of the best tackles in football, hasn’t played a full season since 2013. Right tackle Morgan Moses also battled injuries and is coming off an uneven 2018 season.

The Redskins did spend a third-round selection on Geron Christian last season, but also lost Ty Nsekhe in free agency. Just file this away, for now, depending on what Washington does at OL in the early rounds.

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Who is Josh Woodrum? Three facts about the former AAF and new Redskins QB

Who is Josh Woodrum? Three facts about the former AAF and new Redskins QB

The search for "QBX" — the term the Redskins Talk podcast has given to the unidentified third passer the team should add to their roster — is over.

Well, it probably isn't. But regardless, Washington does have a new signal caller. 

On Thursday, the Redskins reportedly signed Josh Woodrum, who last played in the AAF for the Salt Lake Stallions. He's also been a part of plenty of NFL teams, but mostly in practice squad stints and for brief preseason action.

Here are three things to know about the 26-year-old.

1) He was at his best with the Ravens in 2017

This comes with the caveat, of course, that he has yet to appear in a real NFL game. With that being said, he did ball out for Baltimore in the 2017 exhibition portion.

Overall, he finished 25 of 36 for 321 yards and four total TDs. He was still cut before Week 1, but for someone who's bounced around with other franchises like Giants, Bears, Colts, Browns and Bills, it was by far his best stretch.

2) He's a former first-round pick... of the AAF QB Draft

OK, so he was undrafted by the NFL. When it comes to the AAF, though, Woodrum was a first-rounder. 

Actually, "first-rounder" might be a better way to put it. The Stallions took him eighth overall (of eight teams) in the league's four-round QB Draft.

In seven starts for Salt Lake, Woodrum completed just over 64 percent of his passes and posted a 6:8 TD-to-INT ratio. The team finished 3-5 before, well, the whole thing shut down.

3) He's a local guy   

Sure, it's not like he's from right down the road from the team's headquarters, but Woodrum's hometown is Roanoke, Va. and he played at Liberty University. Joining the Burgundy and Gold will be a quasi-homecoming for a QB who just spent a good chunk of time out in Utah.

Here's a bonus fact, since you've made it this far into a Josh Woodrum blog: It looks like he likes the Chainsmokers. That means he should get a long-term deal immediately and probably also start in September, too.

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