Here is what the Redskins need to do to make the playoffs, including some details on why they must beat the Cowboys on Sunday in order to win the NFC East.
If the Redskins win, they are in as division champs at 10-6. The Cowboys would be 8-8 and the Giants would be no better than 9-7.
If the Redskins lose, Dallas wins the division based on having the best record in common games.
A 9-7 Giants team would be out of the tiebreaker pool based on a 3-3 division record compared to both Dallas and Washington at 4-2.
The Redskins and Cowboys would go to the next tiebreaker, best record in common games. They have 12 common games: Giants X 2, Eagles X 2, Steelers, Ravens, Browns, Bengals, Saints, Panthers, Bucs, and Falcons.
Here are the results:
Won (8): Giants, Bucs, Panthers, Eagles X 2, Browns, Bengals, Steelers
Lost (4): Ravens, Giants, Falcons, Saints
Won (7): Saints, Bucs, Eagles X2, Giants, Ravens, Browns
Lost (5): Bengals, Falcons, Giants, Steelers, Panthers
As was noted here earlier, common opponents is ahead of conference record when it comes to breaking a tie in a division.
Although the chances of a tie are slim, the Redskins would win the division if they tie with the Cowboys.
If the Redskins lose to Dallas, they will be 9-7 with a 7-5 record in the NFC. The Seahawks have 10 wins so they have locked up at least a wild card. The Bears and Vikings both have nine wins and if either one of those teams gets to 10 the Redskins will be eliminated.
The Redskins do win tiebreakers against Minnesota (head to head win) and Chicago (would be 6-6 in NFC if they lost). But for those to count, they have to be, well, tied.
The Vikings host the Packers, who will be playing for a possible first-round bye. The Bears are at Detroit and the Lions are playing to get Calvin Johnson 2000 receiving yards on the year.
To address the slim possibility, a tie for either the Bears or Vikings would eliminate the Redskins as 9-6-1 comes to a better winning percentage than 9-7.
The Redskins will know what they have to do prior to kickoff. The Bears play at 1:00 on Sunday, the Vikings at 4:25. If either one of those teams gets a win, the Redskins and Cowboys, who can’t win a wild card, will be playing a classic winner’s in, loser’s out game at FedEx Field on Sunday night.