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What Redskins Fans Should be Thankful For

What Redskins Fans Should be Thankful For

Redskins fans have plenty to be thankful for on this day:

  • The Cowboys, Giants, and Eagles—This seems a bit odd, but stay with me. The Redskins get to play six games a year against three of the most storied teams in the entire NFL, teams with long traditions (well, except the Cowboys) of championship-caliber play (well, except the Eagles). How could you get pumped up for games against Detroit or Cincinnati twice a year? An NFC East game is never, ever just another game.
  • Ryan Boschetti—This guy is an all-time, all-effort football player, and that's not even the best thing about him. He is the consummate team player. I'll never forget talking to him in training camp when Kedric Golston and Anthony Montgomery were rookies. He told me that he was spending a lot of time with them both in practice and in meetings, teaching them about the pro game and about the Redskins' defense. The two rookies made the roster, Boschetti was cut. It's great to have him back.
  • London Fletcher—Calling him a student of the game is faint praise. He's the professor of the Redskins defense, sometimes even giving coaches tips on how it needs to be run. His anticipation for the play at times makes you think that he lined up in the other team's huddle and that this radio headset is also tuned into the frequency of the offense. As soon as the ink was dry on his contact he became the team leader on defense.
  • Chris Horton—The rookie burst onto the scene with a three-takeaway performance in a game that he didn't even know he was starting until that morning. While the takeaways have not come as easily lately, Horton is learning on the job, he's not getting beaten in coverage often, and he displays a great nose for the football. Not bad for a seventh-round pick.
  • Clinton Portis—Clearly, he brings on a lot of the criticism he takes himself with comments like the one he made about the offensive line. But his productivity speaks for itself. Did you know that his average of 113.5 yards per game from scrimmage is the fourth-best of all time? Only Jim Brown, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Barry Sanders have better averages. Sometime next year Portis will surpass 10,000 career rushing yards. And in the what have you done for me lately category, he leads the NFL in rushing and is the engine that makes the offense of the 7-4 Redskins run.
  • Jim Zorn—The stay-medium but play suddenly, judiciously dice-rolling, hip-hip-hooraying head coach of the Redskins appears to have been quite a find for the Redskins. Few are describing him as the worst hire in the history of the NFL as they were last February when he got a quick promotion from offensive coordinator to head coach. He has scaled back his brutal honesty with the press to some degree, not wanting to alienate himself from his players, but he still makes conversations interesting. His offense still is learning on the job and needs a few new pieces but Zorn has a vision and he is working towards it.

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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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