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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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Need to Know: Redskins' Cousins called a 'mercenary' and that's a good thing

Need to Know: Redskins' Cousins called a 'mercenary' and that's a good thing

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 24, 13 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 5
—NFL Combine (3/2) 6
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 52
—NFL Draft (4/27) 62
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 198

Friday quick hitters

What about Baker? I’m not sure what the Redskins’ thinking is regarding Chris Baker. As with all their other free agents the Redskins haven’t been in communication with Baker’s camp, waiting for the chance to scope out the market at the combine next week. I think that Baker’s fate will depend on cost. If they can get in for around $7 million or less, he stays. If the bidding pushes his deal up much higher than that I think he’s gone.

McCloughan’s status: It’s not exactly news that Scot McCloughan doesn’t have the full powers that many NFL GMs have. He has always been more of a super scout, in charge of stocking the roster. He is not frozen out when it comes to contracts and financial matters but they never have been his strong suit and they are best left to Bruce Allen and, particularly, Eric Schaffer.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

Anything new? So, was there much new in Jerry Brewer’s column in the Post yesterday? Given that the power structure has been in place for over two years now, it doesn’t appear that there was. Brewer essentially said it himself: “McCloughan isn’t necessarily losing power as much as he is having his lack of power revealed.” So during this past two years, while the team improved from 4-12 to playoff contention, things have been how they are now. Let me be clear, there were some disturbing insights in Brewer’s article such as the team’s lack of a response to a request for comment on Chris Cooley’s on-air musing about McCloughan’s alcohol consumption. But on how things work on the organizational chart at Redskins Park it’s been the same.

Who wants Kirk? We are at a point where the popular perception among the fans and media is that Allen is the one who will run Kirk Cousins out of town, either this year or next, while McCloughan and Jay Gruden are begging for him to stay. The narrative is that Allen is the bad buy and McCloughan is the good guy because that’s the way fans and some in the media perceive it. But I would pump the brakes on the notion that McCloughan is willing to pay whatever it takes to keep Cousins around. We haven’t heard from him this year but last year he said on multiple occasions that while he was interested in keeping Cousins around for the long haul the team needs to be careful not to give up too much of the salary cap to one player. That doesn’t sound like he’s all in on giving Cousins a blank check.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Cousins is right to go for the money: Some fans in my Twitter timeline are calling for Cousins to take less money from the Redskins to help Allen and McCloughan pay other players. That’s not happening, nor should it. Jim Trotter of ESPN referred to Cousins as a “mercenary” and he meant it in a positive way. What he is doing is using the NFL system to maximize his earnings potential. Look around at what has been happening around the NFL over the last few weeks, with players getting dumped when they are no longer of use to their teams—and instances of players getting cut will increase exponentially soon—and you should understand why there’s not anything wrong with a player getting as much money as he can while he can. If you add in the short careers they have and the risk that they might spend the last 40-plus years of your life having trouble getting out of bed every morning or sufferig from worse problems and you still don't get it, I can't help you. Cousins should get as much money as he can and it's the job of the team that voluntarily pays him that to figure out how to make it work around him. 

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In case you missed it

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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Bucs QB Jameis Winston wants DeSean Jackson in Tampa

Bucs QB Jameis Winston wants DeSean Jackson in Tampa

Plenty of teams will line up for the services of soon to be free agent DeSean Jackson, but Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston made clear he wants D-Jax with the Bucs. 

"You better believe we want DeSean here," Winston told the the Tampa Bay Times. "I think he would be a great asset to our team. Me growing up an Eagles fan, seeing what he did for the Eagles and back in his Cal days and even with the Redskins, I would love to have DeSean."

Jackson has been clear he looks forward to the free agent process. He's only hit the open market once, and that was under inauspicious terms. The Eagles released Jackson well past the start of free agency in 2014, and the Redskins moved quickly to sign the speedster. 

In three seasons with the 'Skins, Jackson has been a solid teammate and strong player. In 37 starts for the Burgundy and Gold, Jackson has more than 2,700 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. 

RELATED: DeSean Jackson wants to play for an elite QB

With elite speed and arguably the NFL's best ball tracker, Jackson makes sense for a lot of teams. Tampa, in particular, could use a deep threat to play alongside Mike Evans. Teamed with Winston, who has a strong arm and loves to go deep, the Bucs offense would be formidable. 

That does not mean Tampa is a sure thing.

While ESPN's Josina Anderson reported the Bucs could be a  "possible destination" for Jackson, Philadelphia has long been rumored to want him back. His old coach Andy Reid is in Kansas City. Former 'Skins offensive coordinator Sean McVay is now running the show in LA. For a player like Jackson, just about any potential destination could make sense. 

Like it almost always is in NFL free agency, guaranteed money will be a major factor in DeSean's decision. At 30 year's old and with a game reliant on speed and quickness, this could be the last big contract of Jackson's career. Odds are he will land a big deal, and the team with the biggest bag of cash may prove the most tempting. 

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