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Looking for meaning

Looking for meaning

Looking for meaning
During a TV interview following the Redskins’ win over the Giants, Gregg Williams was informed that the Cowboys had come back to win their game against Carolina. That meant that the Redskins wouldn’t be able to have a playoff spot wrapped up until next week.

“I like the fact that we have to win next week,” said Williams. “I think that’s good for this football team. I don’t think we’ve accomplished nearly enough to be able to think that we can take a week off.”

You have to like that point of view and it makes perfect sense. Coaches are always looking for the extra edge to motivate their players and certainly the opportunity to keep playing and keep those paychecks coming in is as good and as practical as any incentive. If the Redskins had clinched this week, there is a chance that they would lose focus and intensity.

Next weekend’s schedule sets up perfectly from the perspective of Williams and, presumably, the rest of the coaching staff. There is no way that the game on Sunday at 4:15 will be rendered meaningless for the Redskins. While a Dallas loss would clinch a playoff spot for the Redskins regardless of the outcome of the game in Philadelphia, that game doesn’t kick off until 8:30 PM on Sunday. If that doesn’t keep the team focused on winning their game, nothing will.

The playoff seed possibilities are narrowing down for the Redskins. If they go 10-6 and win the NFC East, they will be the four seed. Seattle and Chicago have locked up #1 and #2 respectively. The winner of the NFC South will either have 11 wins or it will be Tampa Bay at 10-6 and the Bucs would get the higher seed due to their win over the Redskins.

If the Redskins win on Sunday to earn their playoff spot, they will be the five seed if Carolina loses at Atlanta and they will be the six seed if the Panthers win. If they manage to back in despite a loss on Sunday, they will be the six seed.

If Washington wins the division it will host either the Giants, Panthers, or Bucs. A Wild Card berth will earn a trip to one of those three teams.

Finishing up in style

In his first tenure here, Joe Gibbs’ teams were an impressive 8-3 in the 16th game of the season. On top of that, they never suffered a loss in the final game of the regular season that cost them a playoff spot. In 1991 they had wrapped up home field throughout the playoffs, so their loss to the Eagles was merely an exhibition. In 1987 the Redskins had been eliminated the previous week, so all their overtime loss to Cincinnati didn’t matter.

Only in 1992 did a final-game loss have playoff implications. Facing a win and in, lose and need help scenario going into a Saturday afternoon game against the Raiders, the Redskins came up short, losing 21-20. Fortunately, they got the help they needed the next day as the Packers lost and the Redskins were able to back in.

Big Blew

The New York writers didn’t take out the long knives on the Giants after the game nearly as bad as the press in Texas went after the Cowboys after their loss in Washington. Still, they don’t take losing lightly in the Big Apple. Here are a few tidbits from a column by Steve Serby in the New York Post.

This was the day the Giants should have made a loud statement - to the Redskins, to the 90,000 fans that shouted them down and cursed them, to all the other NFC teams with Super Bowl dreams. They were as quiet as church mice, and just as big, instead.

Little Blue shrunk to the occasion.

Big players play big in big games, and Big Blue was nowhere to be found.

Blue Christmas.Better yet,

Blew Christmas.

. . .

In the old days, you could always count on pride and toughness from the Giants defense. LT steaming around the corner against Joe Jacoby, with Leonard Marshall creating his own havoc on the opposite side. Harry Carson and John Riggins smashing mouths. Jim Burt nose-to-nose with the Hogs.

Little Blue yesterday.

"They just basically threw the ball up and had some fun with it," Michael Strahan said.They threw a roadblock in front of sackless Strahan and Osi Umenyiora.

So many fingers of blame to point, so little time:

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Enemy Intel: Sunday games have playoff implications galore for Redskins

Enemy Intel: Sunday games have playoff implications galore for Redskins

As the Cowboys take their long week off after consecutive Thursday games the Redskins, Giants, Eagles, and other wild card contenders are in action. Here is Tandler’s weekly Redskins-centric spin around the NFL.

—The Giants are on a six-game winning streak and while that’s not easy to do against any level of competition it needs to be pointed out that their slate was squishy-soft with the last five wins coming against teams that currently have losing records. Now things get real with a trip to play the Steelers and a home date against the Cowboys. I’m not really sure how good the Giants are but if they split these two games I’ll be more impressed with them than I am now.

—The 5-6 Eagles travel to play the Bengals, who are just about out of contention for a sixth straight playoff appearance at 3-7-1. In fact, the Eagles might be just about out of it, too. Their big problem is 3-6 conference record, which puts them behind several other wild card contenders in this tiebreaker. It’s important because that is the second tiebreaker behind head to head. It’s better for the Redskins if the Bengals win but it probably won’t matter much. The consensus in Philadelphia seems to be that the Eagles are a rebuilding team that got off to a hot start, kindling some unrealistic hopes and expectations for the rest of 2016.

—The team is the hottest pursuit of the Redskins is the Buccaneers, who travel to San Diego to play a game that starts at the same time as Washington-Arizona. The Chargers are 5-6 but they are buried in last in the tough AFC West. This game is a coin flip. Redskins fans should root for the Chargers. If the Bucs lose, the Redskins would still hold the second wild card at the end of the day even if they should lose to the Cardinals.

—The 5-6 Saints are on the fringes of the wild card picture. They host the Lions, who are leading the NFC North by a game and a half over the Vikings and two games over the Packers. It’s probably best if the Lions win, which would just about eliminate the Saints. Still, there is a scenario where the Lions go into a minor tailspin, lose the division to either the Packers or Vikings but have a good enough record to take the second wild card. So like with most games within the NFC until the dust settles some more, there is some upside and some downside no matter which team wins.

—That scenario where the Lions fade from the division lead become a whole lot less likely if the Texans can go to Green Bay and beat the Packers. This is an interconference game so it’s an easy call to pull for Houston.

—Seattle, with a three-game lead in the NFC West, hosts the Panthers, who are on the outer fringe of the wild card race at 4-7. Another loss likely would ensure that Carolina won’t be able to defend its NFC title. This isn’t a pivotal game but probably better if the Seahawks win to end it for the wounded but potentially dangerous Panthers.

—My one loss last week was the Seahawks giving 5.5 on the road to the Bucs. I won with the Saints over the Rams and the Falcons over the Cardinals. This week I’m giving the Seahawks another go, giving 7 to the Panthers, and I’m taking the Patriots -13.5 against the Rams (the loss of Gronk doesn’t do much to equalize these teams) and the Saints giving 6 to the Lions.

MORE REDSKINS: Betting on the Redskins' playoff chances

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Need to Know: Betting on the Redskins' playoff race outcomes

Need to Know: Betting on the Redskins' playoff race outcomes

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, December 3, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Arizona Cardinals.

Timeline

Today's schedule: No availability

Days until: Redskins @ Eagles 8; Panthers @ Redskins 16; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), DE Anthony Lanier (leg)
Questionable: G Brandon Scherff (ankle), OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle), Bashaud Breeland (ankle), LS Nick Sundberg (back)
Final injury report

Redskins vs. Cardinals
FOX, Sunday, 4:25 p.m., Dick Stockton and Chris Spielman
Line: Cardinals -2.5

Resetting the playoff odds

The Redskins start their stretch drive to the playoffs tomorrow. The will play five games in 29 days. After that, they will have either earned the right to keep playing or will they go home.

Let’s get out the imaginary $100 in casino chips and look at the various possibilities of the finish to the season and spread out the chips based on how likely each scenario is. As always, you are welcome to jump into the comments if you agree or disagree.

Win NFC East, $0—This might be worth a buck or two but this place doesn’t have any chips smaller than $5 and it’s not worth investing even that much in the chance of this happening. The scenario would have to be the Redskins winning out, the Cowboys losing out, and the Giants losing at least two more games. I’d put something on the first scenario and a few chips on the last one but no way is Dallas going 0-4. Keeping my chips in my pocket on this one.

Wild card as No. 5 seed, $40—To do this the Redskins would have to stay ahead of the wild card contenders behind them (see next scenario) and make up a game and a half on the Giants. They play New York in Week 17 so the Redskins would have to make up one game between now and then and they could then determine their status on January 1 at FedEx Field. The Giants go to Pittsburgh on Sunday and host Dallas a week after that so we will see how that looks in a couple of weeks. As of now, the No. 6 seed would go to Detroit for the first round of the playoffs while the No. 5 would play the Falcons in Atlanta. That, of course, is subject to change.

Wild card as No. 6 seed, $35—I think getting the five seed is slightly more likely than getting the six since I think the Giants are a mirage. But even if New York keeps it going, the Redskins can clinch a spot by running the table in their last five games. That would make them 11-4-1 and no other wild card contender could catch them. If they win four of five, only the Bucs can catch them and it would take a 5-0 finish for Tampa Bay. Winning three of five still gives them a good shot at getting in although at that point you are also opening the door for the Vikings, Saints, Packers, and Eagles to catch fire and jump ahead of them.

Out of playoffs, $25—I might be putting a little too much here but it’s the NFL and it’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that the Redskins could finish 2-3 and miss out altogether. Their margin for error is slim and an injury here and a bad break there could have them on the outside looking in.

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