Leaving little hope that the imploding St. Louis Rams can win at Dallas, Joe Gibbs is taking the win-or-we're-out tack this week for the Washington Redskins.
Although the Redskins (9-6) can clinch their first playoff berth since 1999 if they lose at Philadelphia and the Cowboys lose to the Rams, Gibbs is looking at the regular-season finale as a must-win.
"After watching the games [last] weekend, it became obvious to all of us as coaches that the only way we're going to get into the playoffs is by beating Philly," Gibbs said yesterday at Redskin Park. "There is not a single person in this building that believes we'll get in any other way."
Philadelphia (6-9) is out of the playoff picture for the first time since 1999 after losing seven of its past nine games. But Gibbs pointed to how non-playoff teams performed last weekend as a reason not to overlook the Eagles.
"I watched Baltimore play extremely hard and physical and went after it against Minnesota, who was in a similar situation to ours," Gibbs said. "Green Bay played Chicago, one of the best teams out there, and the Packers played super hard from the get-go. I know that's how Philly is going to play.
"All of our focus is on this game. I think I know how Philly is going to play."
According to the league office, the Redskins are still eligible to be the fourth, fifth or sixth seeds in the NFC. The Giants are in the playoffs after Minnesota's loss at Baltimore on Sunday.
The Redskins will clinch a playoff spot with a win or a Dallas loss or if both teams tie. They will win the NFC East with a win and a Giants loss at Oakland.
Dallas (9-6) gets in with a win and a Redskins loss or a win and a Carolina loss.
Defensive end Renaldo Wynn said there is "no doubt" the Redskins can smell a postseason berth following four consecutive victories.
"For so long, you've had to have tunnel vision and not look too far ahead," he said. "And now it's right there in front of us. The moment of truth is here."
Right tackle Jon Jansen is the longest-tenured Redskin and one of only four players from the 1999 playoff team. The others -- James Thrash, Cory Raymer and Mike Sellers ?-- played for other teams before returning to Washington.
"We haven't been in this situation since my rookie year, and to have this excitement and reason to come into work every day this late in the year feels really good," Jansen said.
Chris Clemons out
Director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer said linebacker Chris Clemons' sprained MCL will keep him out of the Eagles game.
Tyer said cornerback Carlos Rogers (biceps), who has missed the last two games, could return.
"We've been instructed by [the team doctors] to be more aggressive this week," Tyer said. "I think if we get some motion into that arm, he may be able to play this week."
Safety Matt Bowen's knee bruise is improving, and Arrington and receiver James Thrash came out of the Giants game in good shape following two- and four-game absences, respectively. Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin (shoulder) and Wynn (foot) sustained minor injuries.
LaVar still waiting
Linebacker LaVar Arrington enjoyed Christmas even if he did not get the present he is anxiously awaiting.
"I was hoping my favorite gift would be my baby girl, but she didn't come yet," he said. "I am still waiting on that."
His wife, Trishia, is due Jan.15, and LaVar knows it could be a tricky postseason with a child on the way. He said inducing the birth of his daughter, who will be named Marlee, could be a possibility.
"If we win and we are going to the playoffs, it's obviously going to be an option we have to explore because I don't want to miss the birthing of my child," Arrington said.
Philadelphia coach Andy Reid said defensive end Jevon Kearse, who leads the Eagles with 7 sacks, sprained his MCL at Arizona and is day-to-day. Former Redskins receiver Darnerien McCants injured his shoulder, and his status for Sunday is unknown.