The Redskins' path to the playoffs

The Redskins' path to the playoffs
December 5, 2012, 9:00 am
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Here is all you need to know about the NFC playoff picture as it applies to the Washington Redskins.

NFC East

Giants (7-5, 2-3 in NFC East, 6-3 in NFC)

Remaining games: Saints, @ Falcons, @ Ravens, Eagles
Strengths: A clutch QB in Eli Manning and a knack for pulling out tough wins in December.
Weaknesses: 22nd in overall defense, 22nd in passing defense, 21st in rushing defense.
Big question: Can they just throw a switch and turn it on like they did last year?

Redskins (6-6, 3-1 in NFC East, 6-4 in NFC)

Remaining games: Ravens, @ Browns, @ Eagles, Cowboys
Strengths: 
RG3 at quarterback, second in NFL in rushing yards
Weaknesses: 31st in passing yards allowed
Big question: Can they continue their hot streak and win out?  

Cowboys (6-6, 3-2 in NFC East, 5-5 in NFC)

Remaining games: Eagles, @ Bengals, Steelers, Saints, @ Redskins
Strengths: 
Second in passing yards, top RB DeMarco Murray is back in lineup.
Weaknesses: Minus-10 in turnover ratio (26th in NFL)
Big question: Will they continue to play at a lower level than the sum of their parts or will they put it together?

The picture here is pretty simple. With another Giants loss, both the Redskins and Cowboys have their fates in their own hands. If both teams win their next three, the Dec. 30 season finale at FedEx Field will be for the division title. That also would be the case if Giants split their last four games and Dallas and Washington go 2-1 with one of the Redskins’ wins coming against the Eagles.

Wild card contenders

Seahawks (7-5, 5-4 in NFC)

Remaining games: Cardinals, vs. Bills (in Toronto), 49ers, Rams
Strengths: 
Fourth in NFL in pass defense
Weaknesses: 30st in passing yards 
Big question: Can they survive if starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner if they lose their drug suspension appeals?

Vikings (6-6, 4-5 in NFC)

Remaining games: Bears, @ Rams, @ Texans, Packers
Strengths: 
Adrian Peterson leading the league’s third-ranked rushing attack
Weaknesses: Christian Ponder leading the league’s 32nd-raned passing attack
Big question: Can they get Percy Harvin back from injury to provide an air threat to compliment Peterson’s ground prowess?

Bucs (6-6, 3-5 in NFC)

Remaining games: Eagles, @ Saints, Rams, @ Falcons
Strengths: 
First in NFL in rushing yards allowed
Weaknesses: Last in NFL in passing yards allowed
Big question: Can Greg Schiano go from Rutgers to the NFL playoffs in one year?

The 5-7 Saints and the 5-6-1 Rams are on the fringes of the picture here but unless things change there is not point in cluttering up the picture here.

Right now, the Seahawks are in the driver’s seat. Football Outsiders gives them a 55 percent chance of earning a wild card spot. Their win over the Bears in Chicago was huge since they don’t have another true road game the rest of the year. Three of their remaining games are in CenturyLink Field, where they are 5-0 this season and the other one is in Toronto against the Bills.

If the Seahawks stumble in an NFC game, that moves the upper hand to the Redskins, assuming that they keep winning. The Redskins have four conference losses and Seattle would have five.

Washington is tied with the Bucs and Vikings at 6-6 but they have the upper hand with head-to-head wins over both of them. As long as the Redskins stay at least even with those two teams, they will be in good shape.