- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Washington’s first order of business Sunday afternoon is beating the New York Giants.

But a win over Eli Manning and Co. isn’t enough to start celebrating a second-consecutive year in the playoffs.

For that, the team and its fans will have to wait for the outcome of the Green Bay-Detroit game later that night — and hope against hope the Redskins aren’t bumped from the postseason by the one-in-a-million possibility of a tie between the two NFC North rivals.

If 9-6 Detroit wins, the Redskins, with a win, are in the playoffs. If 9-6 Green Bay wins, the Redskins, with a win, are in the playoffs.

But if the Packers and the Lions tie (the odds, by the way, are actually much shorter than that aforementioned 1-1,000,000. One local sports analytics expert has it at 1-36) the Redskins, even with a win to finish 9-7-1, are out.

The Redskins say they’re just focused on things they can control: That means Sunday afternoon’s date at FedEx Field with the Giants.

“We just got to focus on winning,” running back Chris Thompson said. “We know we can’t control whatever happens with that (green game. Ties don’t come a whole lot, so we’re just hoping and praying that doesn’t happen.”

“Focus” is the catchphrase for the Redskins this week. It was evident Wednesday when quarterback Kirk Cousins took the podium. Generally a bit jovial, Cousins was more reserved and serious, answering questions directly. He said he and his teammates are approaching preparation this week as they would any other week, and the team’s morale is exactly what you’d expect and want.

“I think it’s been as it should be,” Cousins said of the mood in the locker room. “I think it’s a good balance of guys who have a sense of urgency, but are also enjoying the process. I think we’re right where we need to be in our preparation.”

Should Washington beat the Giants, focus will immediately shift to the Packers-Lions game.

Don’t expect champaign showers in the locker room Sunday, Thompson said. Instead, everyone will likely go home and watch the Sunday night game with their families.

“We’ve tried not to put a whole lot of time into worrying about what else happens,” coach Jay Gruden said Wednesday. “But I’m sure after the game come Sunday, if we are fortunate enough to win the game, we’ll keep a close eye on that one. But, right now, it’s about the Giants.”

Cornerback Josh Norman said the effort the Redskins have put into practice this week has him convinced the team is entirely focused on extending the season. The 10-5 Giants have secured the 5th seed in the NFC playoff picture. A win or a loss won’t make any difference in their positioning, and that means the Redskins may not see a full game with New York’s starters. Norman said he really doesn’t care who’s on the field for the Giants. They’re prepared for anyone, and Norman isn’t worried about a fluke tie knocking the Redskins out of the playoffs.

“I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been asked that question a thousand times,” Norman said. “I don’t care. It doesn’t have nothing to do with me. Only thing that has to do with me is winning [our] ball game. Nothing more, nothing less.”

As Norman spoke, safety Will Blackmon interrupted, jokingly saying that a potential tie should concern him and it does have everything to do with him personally.

“No it doesn’t,” Norman said to Blackmon. “It doesn’t have nothing to do with me. Just saying … This is my interview, Will.”

Norman chuckled, then immediately turned serious.

“I’m going out there and trying to win. Get it done. Nothing more, nothing less.”



• Tommy Chalk can be reached at tchalk@washingtontimes.com.

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