The Redskins resuscitated their postseason hopes with two victories in the last week and earned a weekend break. Players on Sunday are scattered across the country on a short holiday before returning to Ashburn to begin preparing for the mega-Monday night showdown with the New York Giants on Dec. 3.
Even though the Redskins don’t play Sunday, their postseason chances will be affected by several games in the NFC. Their two wins last week earned them and their fans the privilege of meaningful scoreboard watching, so let’s look at whom the Redskins should root for on Sunday, in order of importance.
Here’s the current playoff picture, as presented by NFL.com. Keep in mind tiebreakers are going to change during the course of the final six weeks.
(Home teams are displayed IN CAPS, and TV listings are for the D.C. area.)
Green Bay Packers (7-3) over NEW YORK GIANTS (6-4), 8:30 p.m., NBC4
This is appointment viewing for Redskins fans because Washington’s clearest path to he postseason is winning the NFC East. The Redskins trail New York by 1.5 games in the division standings. If the Packers win, the Redskins suddenly would control their destiny in the NFC East race, and they would host the Giants next Monday with first place at stake.
MIAMI DOLPHINS (4-6) over Seattle Seahawks (6-4), 1 p.m., DirecTV 705
The Seahawks currently hold the NFC’s last playoff spot, so they are the current target for any Redskins push toward a wild card berth. In general, an AFC team beating an NFC team always helps the Redskins’ cause.
As of now, the Redskins would win a tiebreaker with the Seahawks. Washington is 5-4 in the NFC, and Seattle is 4-4.
Atlanta Falcons (9-1) over TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (6-4), 1 p.m., DirecTV 706
Tampa Bay currently is the first team out of the playoffs. The Bucs are 1.5 games ahead of the Redskins, so Washington needs help catching them. The Redskins own the head-to-head tiebreaker with Tampa Bay by virtue of their 24-22 victory in Tampa on Sept. 30.
San Francisco 49ers (7-2-1) over NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (5-5), 4:25 p.m., FOX5
The Saints have won five out of their last six to surge into contention following an 0-4 start. Considering how hot they are and their history of success in recent years, they’re a leading contender for an NFC wild card spot.
A Saints loss would drop them even with the Redskins in the standings, and Washington holds the head-to-head tiebreaker by virtue of its 40-32 victory in New Orleans on Sept. 9.
Minnesota Vikings (6-4) over CHICAGO BEARS (7-3), 1 p.m., FOX5
There are positive and negative consequences from this one regardless of the result, so the outcome is the least important of the five games.
Chicago currently holds the NFC’s fifth seed (first wild card). The Redskins’ chances of earning that spot are slim. But their best case scenario here is for Minnesota to overtake Chicago for the fifth seed and then overtake Minnesota for it. That’s possible because the Redskins own the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Vikings by virtue of their 38-26 victory over Minnesota on Oct. 14.
If the Bears win, the Redskins’ chances of earning the fifth seed would almost completely die. They would trail Chicago by three games with five to play. However, it would help Washington’s effort to catch Minnesota in the race for the second wild card spot. The Redskins trail the Vikings by 1.5 games in the standings and need help catching them.