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Will 10 wins get in?

Will 10 wins get in?

In 2005 and again in 2007 the Washington Redskins faced strings of must-win games in December. They lost to San Diego in the last game of November of '05 to fall to 5-6. They then reeled off five straight wins to grab a Wild Card spot. Last year they were 5-7 after a December 2 loss to the Bills and it took four wins in a row to pull out another postseason berth.

This year, the Redskins sit at 7-5 going into the final month of the season. While they are third in their division and fourth among the four teams with realistic Wild Card aspirations, their situation for making the playoffs is difficult, but not as desperate as it was three years ago or last year.

A repeat of last year's four-game run would almost certainly lead to a trip to the playoffs. Here are the four teams currently in contention plus Tampa Bay, with the same record as Carolina and leading the NFC South on tiebreakers:

TB 9-3: @CAR @ATL SD OAK
CAR 9-3: TB DEN @NYG @NO
ATL 8-4: @NO TB @MIN STL
DAL 8-4: @PIT NYG BAL @PHI
WAS 7-5: @BAL @CIN PHI @SF

At first glance, this looks rather bleak as the Redskins will have to pass two teams in order to make it in. That's difficult, but not as daunting as it may seem.

To set this up, let's say that the Redskins are able to get to 10 wins with wins over Philly and San Francisco as part of the mix. That would give them a division record of 3-3 and a conference record of 8-4.

Look at Dallas' remaining schedule. It's the hardest of any NFL team. The Cowboys will do well to go 2-2 against that gauntlet. Should one of those losses come against the Eagles or Giants they would be at 10-6 but with five conference losses. The Redskins would win the tiebreaker based on conference record.

The Bucs, Panthers, and Falcons have something of a round robin going on in the next couple of weeks as Tampa Bay plays at Carolina this Sunday and Atlanta hosts the Bucs the next week. There are way too many possible outcomes of those three games to go into all of them but the best thing for the Skins is for the Bucs to sweep the two games and take command of the NFC South. Then Carolina would have four conference losses and would have to win two of their last three to get to 11 wins and stay out of a tiebreaker with a 10-win Redskins team. The Redskins would win that tiebreaker since Carolina would have five NFC losses if it finished 1-2 at that point.

The Falcons are 5-3 and all of their remaining games are against NFC teams. That means that if they finish 10-6 they will automatically have five conference losses and would finish behind the Skins in a tiebreaker.

The Redskins want to stay out of a tiebreaker with the Bucs, who have only two conference losses with two NFC games left.

But all the Redskins need to have a good shot at making it a 10-6 is to have no more than one non-division winner to finish at 11-5.

What it boils down to here is that while this Sunday night's game against the Ravens is important in a lot of ways, it's not vital to the team's playoff chances. If they lose, it's a non-conference game and they would be facing three games (I hate to label those last three as "very winnable" as everything has been a struggle lately but they are games the Skins should be able to win without playing at their absolute peak) that they would have to sweep to get to 10.

The picture will become clearer after this week's games and we'll have solid must-win and must-lose games after Week 15. But for now, 10 seems to be the number that will have the Redskins playing into January.

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QB run will come at NFL Draft, but when it happens matters most for Redskins

QB run will come at NFL Draft, but when it happens matters most for Redskins

Quarterbacks will come off the board in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night. That much is certain. Where those quarterbacks come off the board, however, matters much more for the Redskins. 

Mitchell Trubisky will be the first passer off the board, and depending on the information, he could be drafted as high as the first overall pick, and will certainly go early.

Trubisky, though, seems like the only certainty of a QB going early. Questions plague guys like Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. Those guys could all go in the first half of the draft, but they could all slide into the 20s as well. 

For Washington, the earlier quarterbacks get drafted the better. It seems highly unlikely the Redskins make a draft day trade of QB Kirk Cousins, limiting hardly any interest in a first-round passer.

The more passers that go before the 'Skins pick at 17 means the more high-quality players slide down the draft board. Look around the internet at lists of the best prospects available. Hardly any signal callers crack the Top 20, but the positional need at QB demands the position be overdrafted.

Though the Burgundy and Gold continue to slow-play contract talks with Cousins, he is under contract for 2017 and the team holds an option for 2018. That means Bruce Allen can sit in his draft room and potentially be a trade partner for a team that wants to land a QB, or just wait patiently and watch as they come off the board and send other desirable prospects closer to 17.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Need to Know: Redskins’ needs line up well with the strength of the draft

Need to Know: Redskins’ needs line up well with the strength of the draft

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 25, one day before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 16
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 28
—Training camp starts (7/27) 92
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 137

Wrapping up the Redskins pre-draft presser

We’ve looked at a some of what Redskins college scouting director Scott Campbell said during his pre-draft press conference on Monday, covering possible trades, who makes the final call on those trades, and how the organization handles character issues. Here are a few more bullet points from Campbell’s presser:

—Asked if the Redskins would draft to fill needs or take the best available player, Campbell gave the stock answer. “I guess as you asked the question, you kind of framed it and the way I’m going to frame the answer, and the age-old answer of ‘I’m going to take the best player available,’” he said “And if that serves your needs, that’s a bonus.” So, there you go. That said, don’t be surprised if the best players as defined by the Redskins in the first few also happen have the “bonus” of filling one the team’s top two or three needs.

—The needs could line up well because the strength of the draft as Campbell sees it coincides with side of the ball where the Redskins need the most help. “Well, I’m excited because I think it’s one of the strongest, deepest classes on the defensive side of the ball that I’ve seen,” he said. “I’ve told the guys upstairs I’m excited because we’re going to get better . . . And several different positions – sometimes it’s just maybe defensive line or outside backers or corners. Across the board on defense, I’m really excited about the class and the guys we’re going to bring in are going to help us.”

—The draft board is still used after the draft ends and the scramble for undrafted free agents starts up. “There’s going to be guys left on the bottom of that board that didn’t get drafted that we had rated as draftable,” said Campbell. “So that’s our No. 1 targets. I assign a scout to all the coaches, and really the coaches talk to the players – once the draft ends, let me be clear, it’s after the draft ends when we start making calls – the scouts are on the phone with the agent finding out what our competition is, how much.” Campbell said that money isn’t much of a factor in recruiting the undrafted players; selling opportunity is the key.

—The draft board was influenced by former GM Scot McCloughan but adjustments have been made since he was fired in early March. “Well, he certainly had influence on it because we all met as we always did the last couple of years and every team does. You meet right after the all-star games before you go to the combine and kind of get an initial ranking of how you like the guys. Of course Scot hadn’t been here since, so just like when he was here before, there’s adjustments being made to the board with the new information.”

—The 2016 draft class did not contribute a lot but does not mean that there is more pressure on the organization to do better this year. The pressure is always there regardless. “Always pressure. Every year’s pressure,” said Campbell. “I grew up in an NFL household. My dad was a coach and a player for 40 years. Pressure every year to perform, that’s what the NFL is. You’ve got to perform every year.” His father was Marion Campbell who played in the NFL for eight years and then coached for 21 seasons including stints as the head coach of the Eagles and Falcons.

—Campbell also asked for a little patience with the 2016 draft class, citing a group from a few years ago. “It takes a couple of years to develop a class,” said Campbell. “People are saying the ‘14 class had some success. Well, if I read articles and see what happened and what was said right after that draft, our grades in the mock drafts were not very good. It takes time. Morgan Moses didn’t start his first year, you know, but he’s come on to be one of the best right tackles in the league. That’s my opinion anyway. It takes time to develop. I still think with time, that class [2016] will be just fine.” I guess I buried the lede here—Campbell reads draft grades.

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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