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The Redskins playoff scenario nitty-gritty, Week 15

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The Redskins playoff scenario nitty-gritty, Week 15

The NFC East playoff picture remains a muddled mess.

There was a chance to have some degree of clarity added to it on Monday night in Miami but the Giants broke open a tie game with an 84-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Odell Beckham Jr. early in the fourth quarter. New York beat the Dolphins 31-24 to stay tied with the Redskins and Eagles atop the NFC East.

Here are the three teams, their NFC East records, and their remaining games:

Redskins (2-2)—Bills, @Eagles, @Cowboys
Eagles (2-2)—Cardinals, Redskins, @Giants
Giants (2-3)—Panthers, @Vikings, Eagles

At the moment the Redskins have the edge in the tiebreakers over the Giants with a better division record and half of the tiebreaker with the Eagles by virtue of their Week 4 win over Philly. In order to make that first win over Philadelphia matter, however, the Redskins have to beat them again on the road in Week 16. That means that if the Redskins win out, they win the division at 9-7.

But a team that has yet to win two in a row this year seems unlikely to finish the season with what would be a four-game winning streak counting their win over the Bears last Sunday. If they do drop a game they will need help in the form of a Giants loss to make it. If they lose two, they need a lot of help.

Looking at the schedules, help could be on the way. Both of the Redskins’ rivals are underdogs at home on Sunday with the Panthers favored by about four points over the Giants and the Cardinals are being called about a field goal better than the Eagles.

Washington is slightly favored over the Bills. If the lines hold, the Redskins would be in a position to clinch the NFC East with an 8-7 record in Week 16 with a win over the Eagles and a Giants loss at Minnesota.

The Redskins would not be out if it they lost that game in Philadelphia to the Eagles to fall to 7-8. If they win in Dallas in Week 17 they would look to the scoreboard to see what happens in MetLife Stadium. If the Eagles beat the Giants they would be 8-8 with a head-to head split against the Redskins but they would take the division with a 4-2 record in the NFC East compared to 3-3 in the division for Washington.

But if the Giants win (after having beaten the Vikings in Week 16) they would be 8-8 and tied with the Redskins. The will have split head to head and they both will have 3-3 division records. The next tiebreaker is record in common games. If it plays out this way, both the Giants and the Redskins would be 5-7 in their 12 common games.

That would send it to the next tiebreaker, which is conference record. Right now the Redskins are 6-4 in the NFC while the Giants are 3-6. A win over Dallas would be Washington’s seventh conference win while the Giants can get to no more than six. That would send the Redskins to the playoffs.

There are some who are saying that the Redskins’ upcoming game against the Bills is their least important remaining game. That may be true, but Buffalo is a common opponent that the Giants beat already. Losing that game could drop the Redskins a game behind in that category and that could come into play under some scenarios.

A rough estimate shows about 35 possibilities for how the three teams currently tied at the top could finish. The possible scenarios will narrow considerably after Sunday’s games. For now, just know that the Redskins control their destiny if they win out, and that if form prevails the Redskins might be able to take the division with two wins in their last three.

But, of course, if form had prevailed this year the Redskins would have been eliminated from the playoffs long ago and we’d be watching the Cowboys, who aren’t even relevant at this point, try to wrap up the division before Christmas. So anything can happen.

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Redskins' decision on Su'a Cravens doesn't change much immediately

Redskins' decision on Su'a Cravens doesn't change much immediately

When the Redskins announced that safety Su’a Cravens has been placed on the reserve/left team list, ending his 2017 season, some things changed. But mostly, in the short term anyway, things stayed the same.

Before diving into this, let’s acknowledge that Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk is reporting that Cravens was going to show up at Redskins Park today and the Redskins put him on the reserve/left team list “out of the blue” and without the five-day notice that the team is required to give the player before putting him on that list. A grievance is a possibility. We will follow that aspect of it carefully but for now, we don’t know much about it and will let Florio’s report stand on its own.

What does not change now is the Redskins’ roster. Since he was on the exempt/left team list he did not count against the 53-man roster. The Redskins started Deshazor Everett at strong safety Week 1 against the Eagles and rookie Montae Nicholson got the nod Sunday against the Rams. It is likely that one of those two gets the start for the rest of the year.

RELATED: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS' WIN IN LA

Had Cravens reported the Redskins would have had to make a roster move to make room for him. When he left the team right after final cuts were made, offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings was picked up on waivers. He presumably is the 53rd man on the roster but he is safe for now.

So, what changes? The Redskins save some money. Cravens was slated to make $651,408 in salary this year. The money was guaranteed; however, leaving the team voided that guarantee. The team also could send him a bill for $335,631, the one-year prorated portion of his $1.422 million signing bonus he got last year.

It should be noted that the financial aspects of this are pending any grievance proceedings. If the Redskins did not give Cravens proper notice and he reports for work, he could make the case that he is entitled to his money. But, again, that is something that we’ll see about in the coming days and weeks.

MORE REDSKINS: INJURY LIST LONG, PAINFUL BUT NONE SERIOUS

Cravens’ status will be a topic of discussion during Jay Gruden’s podium session and in the locker room on Wednesday. But after that, the focus will return to playing the Raiders and the whole saga will go on the back burner.

What happens after this year? As far as I can gather, the reserve/left team list only applies to the 2017 season. If Cravens follows the terms of his contract and reports for work when required in 2018 the Redskins would have to either let him play, release him, or trade him.

But that is down the road. For now, the Redskins will move on as though he is out for the season with an injury and play with the guys they have.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Rams

Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Rams

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, September 19, five days before the Washington Redskins play the Raiders at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No media availability

Days until:

—Monday night Redskins @ Chiefs (10/2) 13
—Monday night Redskins @ Eagles (11/23) 24
—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 40

Last look at Redskins vs. Rams

—Before the game, I confidently told someone on Twitter that Ryan Grant would get about as many targets (6) against the Rams as he did against the Eagles. But as it turned out, Grant was targeted just twice. The second time was on the game-winning touchdown in the last two minutes. A big difference between this week and last was that Kirk Cousins attempted just 27 passes against LA compared to 40 vs. the Eagles. That led to fewer opportunities for receivers and Grant was one of those who saw his chances drop the most.

—Cousins started well and finished strong but he didn’t do much in the middle. It seems that he was rolling along well until he misfired on a fade pattern to Josh Doctson and then on another throw to Chris Thompson. That ended a goal to go opportunity in a situation where a touchdown would have given the Redskins a commanding 17-0 lead. The next time the Redskins had the ball Cousins was sacked on his first passing attempt and he fumbled a snap a little later. In the third quarter and early in the fourth he completed some passes but many of them were for a minimal gain. To his credit, he didn’t panic and force a turnover. And, of course, he came through on the final drive, completing three of three passes for 42 yards including the 11-yard game winner to Grant.

—During the week leading up to the game, Jay Gruden emphasized the importance of getting to the quarterback. It didn’t play out as well as I’m sure Gruden would have liked. They got two sacks of Jared Goff, one by Preston Smith and one by Ryan Kerrigan, both in the Rams’ possession late in the first half. They pressured Goff on other occasions but overall their pass rush possibly was not as good as it was against the Eagles. Then, they at least got to Carson Wentz even though they had issues bringing him down. Too often, Goff had plenty of time to operate and that helped keep the Rams in the game until near the end.

—Chris Thompson has been the Redskins’ offensive MVP so far. He has improved each year and yesterday he was at his peak. What you really had to like on the 61-yard touchdown run on the draw play was his patience. He was almost standing still as he took the handoff from Cousins as he carried out the pass-blocking fake and chose his path for when he got the ball. He said that the play was designed for him to go one way but his read took him someplace else. It took him to the end zone for the second time that game.

—One surprise early in the game was that Montae Nicholson started at strong safety in place of DeShazor Everett. Nicholson made no glaring errors before he left the game with an AC joint sprain. The depth chart here apparently is set after the team announced that Su'a Cravens, the starter until he left the team to contemplate retirement, will not return this season. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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