The Redskins’ path to the playoffs is coming into focus with only two weeks remaining in the regular season.
Keep in mind two particularly important facts when considering the Redskins’ postseason chances:
1. The Redskins would win the NFC East by winning both of their remaining games and finishing 10-6.
2. If the Redskins split their last two games and finish 9-7, regardless of whether they beat Philadelphia or Dallas, they would need help in the form of losses by New York, Seattle, Minnesota and Chicago. (Click here to read how the Redskins could qualify for the playoffs without winning both of their remaining games.)
Now let’s turn our attention to Week 16.
The Redskins would clinch a playoff spot Sunday if they beat Philadelphia AND the Giants lose at Baltimore, AND Chicago loses at Arizona AND Minnesota loses at Houston.
So the Redskins fans’ Week 16 rooting guide is straightforward. Let’s take a look at whom the Redskins should root for, in order of importance.
(Home teams are displayed IN CAPS, and TV listings are for the D.C. area.)
BALTIMORE RAVENS (9-5) over New York Giants (8-6), 4:25 p.m., FOX5
If the Redskins finish 9-7, New York could not finish ahead of them in the standings as long as the Giants lose at least one of their final two games. Considering the Giants host Philadelphia in the season finale, their game Sunday at Baltimore seems the greatest chance for them Giants to lose. However, the Ravens have lost three straight.
ARIZONA CARDINALS (5-9) over Chicago Bears (8-6), 4:25 p.m., DirecTV 716
For the Redskins to have any chance of qualifying for the playoffs at 9-7, they need Chicago to lose at least one of its final two games. The Bears finish the season on Dec. 30 at Detroit. Both Arizona and Detroit are eliminated and are playing out the string. The Bears, however, have lost five of their last six.
The Redskins would win any two-team tiebreaker with Chicago by virtue of their superior record against NFC opponents.
HOUSTON TEXANS (12-2) over Minnesota Vikings (8-6), 1 p.m., DirecTV 706
For the Redskins to have any chance of qualifying for the playoffs at 9-7, they need Minnesota to lose at least one of its final two games. The Vikings finish the season on Dec. 30 at home against Green Bay. Green Bay has clinched the NFC North title, but the season finale is guaranteed to impact seeding, so the Packers will have something to play for. Green Bay beat Minnesota 23-14 in Green Bay on Dec. 2.
The Redskins would win any two-team tiebreaker with Minnesota by virtue of their 38-26 head-to-head victory on Oct. 14.
San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1) over SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (9-5), 8:20 p.m., NBC4
For the Redskins to qualify for the playoffs at 9-7, there’s a strong chance they would need Seattle to lose both of its remaining games. If Washington and Seattle tied at 9-7, the Redskins would have a superior NFC record.
The Seahawks finish the season on Dec. 30 at home vs. St. Louis. The Seahawks are 6-0 at home this season.
Seattle lost at San Francisco, 13-6, on Oct. 18.
The Redskins cannot catch the 49ers in the NFC playoff race.
Tennessee Titans (5-9) over GREEN BAY PACKERS (10-4), 1 p.m., DirecTV 710
An optimist would note the Redskins would finish seeded higher than Green Bay if they won both of their remaining games and if Green Bay lost to Tennessee on Sunday and at Minnesota in the season finale. The Redskins and Packers would be 10-6, and Washington would have a superior record against NFC opponents.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (6-8) over St. Louis Rams (6-7-1), 1 p.m., DirecTV 704
The Rams could finish ahead of Washington in the NFC. However, that would require the Redskins to lose both of their remaining games. If that happened, we wouldn’t be talking about the playoffs.
New Orleans Saints (6-8) over DALLAS COWBOYS (8-6), 1 p.m., DirecTV 705
This game is pretty much meaningless to the Redskins’ playoff chances. If Dallas loses, then the Redskins would only have to tie their game against Dallas on Dec. 30 at FedEx Field to finish ahead of the Cowboys in any NFC playoff scenario. So there’s that.
Whether Washington finishes seeded higher than Dallas in the NFC depends solely on next Sunday’s season finale. But for anyone hoping the Cowboys miss the playoffs, a loss to New Orleans would increase the chance of that.
The Saints cannot make the playoffs ahead of Washington. The Redskins own the two-team tiebreaker over New Orleans by virtue of their 40-32 head-to-head victory in Week 1. The Redskins would have to lose both of their remaining games in order to tie New Orleans.
Enjoy the games and your scoreboard watching.