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Warpath To The Postseason: NFL Week 15

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With possible routes for the Redskins to make the to the postseason diminishing, let’s take a look at the road ahead to the with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

After being granted the possibility of controlling their own destiny following a weird "having to root for Dallas" Cowboys victory over the Buccaneers, the Redskins squandered a golden opportunity to make their lives (and the lives of their supporters) easier with two games left to go in the regular season.

First, the NFC Standings:

Seed


Team


Record


Remaining Schedule


1

Dallas (x)

12-2-0

DET, @PHI

2

Seattle (y)

9-4-1

AZ, @SF

3

Atlanta

9-5-0

@CAR, NO

4

Detroit

9-5-0

@DAL, GB

5

N.Y. Giants

10-4-0

@PHI, @WAS

6

Green Bay

8-6-0

MIN, @DET

In the hunt

Seed


Team


Record


Remaining Schedule


7

Tampa Bay

8-6-0

@NO, CAR

8

Washington

7-6-1

@CHI, NYG

9

Minnesota

7-7-0

@GB, CHI

10

New Orleans

6-8-0

@TB, @ATL

11

Carolina

6-8-0

ATL, @ TB

Eliminated


Seed


Team


Record


Remaining Schedule


12

Arizona

5-8-1

@SEA, @LA

13

Philadelphia

5-9-0

NYG, DAL

14

Los Angeles

4-10-0

SF, AZ

15

Chicago

3-11-0

WAS, @MIN

16

San Francisco

1-13-0

@LA, SEA

Legend: ( X ) -clinched playoff berth | ( Y ) -denotes division winner | ( Z ) -denotes first-round bye | ( * ) -clinched home-field advantage


Lots of movement here, as the once-written off Packers have rebounded from their loss to the Redskins in week 11 to ride a four game winning streak into the NFC’s 6th seed.  They hold an advantage in the final wild card spot based on a razor thin strength of schedule advantage (.510 to the Buccaneers' .505). The Falcons bump the Lions from the 3rd seed based on strength of victory (.456 to the Detroit's .385).

So what does that mean for the Redskins? Well, there are still a handful of scenarios that will allow Washington to make the playoffs but they (obviously) both involve winning at least one game over their next two match-ups.

If the Redskins win both of their final two games (at Bears, vs. Giants) to finish 9-6-1, they clinch a Wild Card spot with:

1) Either one Tampa Bay loss (at New Orleans, vs. Carolina) OR two Atlanta losses (at Carolina, vs. New Orleans) AND

2) Either one Green Bay loss (vs. Minnesota, at Detroit) OR two Detroit losses (at Dallas, vs. Green Bay)

Hey, crazier things have happened.

Things get a little more tricky if they go 1-1 over the last two weeks to finish 8-7-1. In that scenario, they can still clinch a Wild Card spot but only with:

1) Two Green Bay losses AND

2) Two Tampa Bay losses AND

3) Minnesota loses or ties Chicago

Maybe don't hold your breath for that one.

Washington’s playoff odds have shrunk to their lowest level of the season, according to Five Thirty Eight, with chances of postseason play falling to just 25% after their Monday Night Football loss to Carolina.

All that said, if it's possible, can we take a moment to appreciate that for the first time since the turn of the century the Redskins have had back-to-back seasons that featured week 15 and 16 games that have actually matter with postseason chances well within reach. Has it been pretty? No, of course not. But for a franchise and a fanbase that has lamented a lack of positive and consistent winning opportunities, this in its own right feels like a pretty big step forward, so let's try to not take it for granted.

Here’s the rundown of clinching scenarios for this week on the NFC side:

Dallas Cowboys:

Dallas can clinch the NFC East division title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with:

1) DAL win or tie OR

2) NYG loss or tie

Seattle Seahawks:

Seattle can clinch a first-round bye with:

1) SEA win + DET loss + ATL loss or tie

New York Giants:

The New York Giants can clinch a playoff berth with:

1) NYG win or tie OR

2) DET loss or tie OR

3) GB loss or tie OR

4) TB loss or tie OR

5) ATL loss

Detroit Lions:

Detroit can clinch the NFC North division title with:

1) DET win + GB loss or tie OR

2) DET tie + GB loss

Detroit can clinch a playoff berth with:

1) DET win + TB loss or tie OR

2) DET tie + TB loss OR

3) DET tie + TB tie + ATL win OR

4) WAS loss or tie + TB loss + ATL win or tie

Atlanta Falcons:

Atlanta can clinch the NFC South division title with:

1) ATL win + TB loss or tie OR

2) ATL tie + TB loss

Atlanta can clinch a playoff berth with:

1) ATL win + ATL clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over DET OR

2) ATL win or tie + GB loss or tie OR

3) ATL win + DET loss or tie OR

4) ATL tie + DET tie OR

5) WAS loss or tie + GB loss OR

6) WAS loss or tie + GB tie + DET loss

Green Bay Packers:

Green Bay can clinch a playoff berth with:

1) GB win + WAS loss or tie + TB loss + ATL win or tie + GB clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over TB

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Tampa Bay can clinch a playoff berth with:

1) TB win + GB loss + DET loss + WAS loss OR

2) TB win + GB loss + DET loss + WAS tie + TB clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over DET

AFC Standings:

Seed


Team


Record


Remaining Schedule


1

New England (z)

12-2-0

NYJ, @MIA

2

Oakland (x)

11-3-0

IND, @DEN

3

Pittsburgh

9-5-0

BAL, CLE

4

Houston

8-6-0

CIN, @TEN

5

Kansas City

10-4-0

DEN, @SD

6

Miami

9-5-0

@BUF, NE

In the hunt

Seed


Team


Record


Remaining Schedule


7

Baltimore

8-6-0

@PIT, @CIN

8

Tennessee

8-6-0

@JAC, HOU

9

Denver

8-6-0

@KC, OAK

10

Indianapolis

7-7-0

@OAK, JAC

11

Buffalo

7-7-0

MIA, @NYJ

Eliminated


Seed


Team


Record


Remaining Schedule


12

Cincinnati

5-8-1

@HOU, BAL

13

San Diego

5-9-0

@CLE, KC

14

N.Y. Jets

4-10-0

@NE, BUF

15

Jacksonville

2-12-0

TEN, @IND

16

Cleveland

0-14-0

SD, @PIT

Legend: ( X ) -clinched playoff berth | ( Y ) -denotes division winner | ( Z ) -denotes first-round bye | ( * ) -clinched home-field advantage


Kansas City and Oakland swap spots, while the Dolphins are poised to become that one team that makes the playoffs and everyone looks back on them and says, "Wait, they made the playoffs? That's weird."  Miami leapfrogs the AFC's 8-6 squads: Baltimore, Tennessee, and Denver.  Meanwhile in the AFC South, the Texans and Titans are primed for a week 17 showdown to possibly determine the division winner in the final game of the year, just how everyone drew it up at the outset of the season, I'm sure.

Several clinching scenarios lined up in the AFC this week as well:

New England Patriots:

New England can clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with:

1) NE win + OAK loss or tie OR

2) NE tie + OAK loss

Oakland Raiders:

Oakland can clinch the AFC West division title and a first-round bye with:

1) OAK win + KC loss or tie OR

2) OAK tie + KC loss

Pittsburgh Steelers:

Pittsburgh can clinch the AFC North division title with:

1) PIT win

Kansas City Chiefs:

Kansas City can clinch a playoff berth with:

1) KC win or tie OR

2) BAL loss or tie

Houston Texans:

Houston can clinch the AFC South division title with:

1) HOU win + TEN loss

Miami Dolphins:

Miami can clinch a playoff berth with:

1) MIA win + DEN loss or tie OR

2) MIA tie + BAL loss + DEN loss + HOU loss or tie OR

3) MIA tie + BAL loss + DEN loss + TEN loss or tie

The Bengals, Chargers, and Cardinals were all knocked out of playoff contention in the past week, but even as the Redskins are seeking to stave off elimination at the ever least we can take a moment to acknowledge the Eagles postseason hopes extinguishing with a:

Two weeks remaining in the regular season, let's see how it all plays out.

NFL Playoff Picture - Week 15
CBS Sports