Last Friday morning I took you on an exhaustive nature hike through the NFC playoff picture to demonstrate precisely where the Redskins were and what they would have to do to get to the postseason. Now, let's take a brief moment to consider the Sunday games and how they affect the playoff chances of the Washington Redskins.
GAMES THAT DID NOT HELP THE REDSKINS
Dallas Cowboys 38 Philadelphia Eagles 33
The Redskins came into the weekend tied with the Cowboys at 5-6, but having a head-to-head edge which will be resolved when the teams play again in week 17. Dallas now moves to 6-6, which the Redskins must match by beating the Giants on Monday night. But the Redskins have to beat the Giants on Monday night anyway, so very little has changed. I think everyone expected Dallas to win this game and, finally, they did. A good bit of news for the Redskins, though, is that the Cowboys defense proved completely vulnerable to Philly's rushing attack. The Eagles rushed for 183 yards and averaged 7 yards per carry against the Cowboys. That's a weakness Cowboys opponents will be sure to exploit. And remember, Dallas still has two division losses. The Redskins have -- to date -- only one.
Seattle Seahawks 23 Chicago Bears 17 OT
Seahawks rookie QB Russell Wilson continues his magical mystery tour, shredding the vaunted Chicago defense in regulation and overtime. The Seahawks don't play the Redskins so there are no head-to-head advantages, but the win by Seattle improves them to 7-5 and puts them in fine position for the final NFC playoff spot. This was the most damaging game for the Redskins this weekend because the 'hawks have a better record than Washington and their remaining schedule -- Arizona and San Francisco at home sandwiched around a road trip to Buffalo and finishing with the Rams in Seattle-- is very friendly. It is not difficult to see the Sehawks winning all four of those games and finishing 11-5, far out of reach of the other NFC teams. Washington needed the Seahawks to lose at least two of those games and yesterday in Chicago was probably the best chance for that to happen. Redskins fans must now root for the Seahawks to be upset at home, something that has not happened this season.
St. Louis Rams 16 San Francisco 49ers 13 [OT]
These two teams tied when they met earlier this year and almost did it again on Sunday. The Rams win improves them to 5-6-1, forcing the Redskins to win on Monday night to stay ahead of them, which is something the Skins need to do for a variety of reasons anyway. The Redskins MUST finish with a better record than the Rams, though, because one of Washington's six losses this season was to the Rams, all the way back in week two.
GAMES THAT HELPED THE REDSKINS
Denver Broncos 31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23
The Redskins beat the Bucs head-to-head and so hold a tiebreaker advantage with them. The loss to Denver dropped Tampa to 6-6, a record the Skins can match by beating the Giants on Monday night. Tampa has 5 conference losses, as well, which puts them in trouble with a number of other NFC teams.
Green Bay Packers 23 Minnesota Vikings 14
The Redskins just need to finish with a record as good as the Vikings because they beat Minnesota head-to-head this season, thus ensuring Washington would have the tiebreaker advantage. That's not likely to matter because the Vikings have a brutal schedule down the stretch and this was probably just the first loss of several more to come. The Vikings got a huge game from Adrian Peterson, who averarged 10 yards a carry on 21 carries [that's 210 yards for those of you who don't do math] and still lost because Christian Ponder is just awful.
So, there you go. The Redskins needed help, but didn't get much. A win on Monday night keeps the Redskins very much in the playoff hunt, but Chicago's inability to defend its home field from a Seahawks team that has had very little success on the road this season, really hurt. Even winning out and finishing 10-6 may no longer be enough to get the Skins in the playoffs.