- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 22, 2021

The Washington Football Team is now on the outside looking in when it comes to the NFL’s playoff picture.

There is still a clump of teams in the mix for the last wildcard spot in the NFC, but Washington‘s postseason odds took a significant hit after Tuesday’s 27-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. With three games left, Washington now has only a 9% chance of making the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight’s predictive model. 

Through Week 15, these teams hold the three wild cards spots in the NFC: The Los Angeles Rams (10-4), San Francisco 49ers (8-6) and Minnesota Vikings (7-7).

The Vikings are one of three teams in the conference with an identical 7-7 record, but hold the seventh seed because of tie-breakers. 

Here’s a closer look at where each NFC team on the fringe stands in the final stretch of the season, including the remaining schedule:



Vikings (7-7): Rams, at Packers, Bears

The Vikings have been uneven all year and they face a daunting schedule to close the season. While Chicago has been long out of the mix, the Rams and the Packers will very much have something to play for. If they can sneak in, the Vikings would have their second postseason appearance under quarterback Kirk Cousins, who signed with Minnesota in 2018. 

Eagles (7-7): Giants, at Washington, Cowboys

Like Washington last year, Philadelphia could benefit from facing a litany of backup quarterbacks down the stretch. The Eagles just beat a Garrett Gilbert-led Washington team — the Burgundy and Gold signed Gilbert just four days ago after the virus sidelined its top two options — and now get to face the Giants’ Mike Glennon or Jake Fromm, depending on which backup New York wants to start next week. The Giants shut down starter Daniel Jones (neck) for the rest of the year on Monday. 

Even Washington‘s Taylor Heinicke technically started the year as a backup. 

New Orleans Saints (7-7): Dolphins, Panthers, at Falcons

Coming off an impressive shutout over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Saints will need to take care of a surging Dolphins team and two divisional foes to likely make the postseason. But New Orleans has managed to hang around — even after losing starting quarterback Jameis Winston to a torn ACL earlier in the year. 

Washington (6-8): at Cowboys, Eagles, at Giants

Coach Ron Rivera put it bluntly when asked what his team’s latest loss meant for the playoff race. “We have to win out,” he said. And that’s likely the case. It’s not impossible, but Washington will have to play better than it did the first time it faced Dallas and Philadelphia. Washington has now dropped two straight after winning four straight to climb back into the playoff race. 

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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