After big wins over the Vikings, Packers and Eagles over the past two months, the Washington Redskins looked poised to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1992. Despite these key wins, the playoff hopes for the Redskins took a huge hit when they lost to the Carolina Panthers in Week 15. While Washington can still make a return trip to the playoffs this season, they no longer control their own destiny.
The Washington Redskins are currently sitting one half game behind the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the final wildcard spot in the NFC. Since they have a tie on their record, the Redskins have to finish with the same amount of wins as the Packers and Buccaneers to get the final playoff spot. This means that the Washington Redskins will have to win their final two games to have any chance of making the playoffs. While the team is certainly capable of winning the last two games this season, it will not be an easy task.
The first obstacle in Washington's way are the Chicago Bears. While this appeared to be an easy win for the Redskins a few weeks ago, the Bears are playing much better football since Matt Barkley became the starting quarterback. The Bears gave the Packers a tough game in Week 15, so Washington cannot overlook their opponent this week. In addition to beating the Bears this weekend, the Redskins will also have to defeat the New York Giants in the final game of the regular season. The Giants have the second-best record in the NFC, so the Redskins will have to pull off a big upset at home if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Going undefeated the rest of the season will not be enough to guarantee the Redskins a spot in the playoffs in a crowded NFC race. They will also need to get some help from their competition. The Buccaneers must lose at least one game to give Washington any chance at the playoffs. The Buccaneers have games scheduled against the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers. While neither team has a winning record, they will both play tough in hopes of ruining the season of their division rival. The inconsistent play of quarterback Jameis Winston and the tough competition makes another loss for the Buccaneers highly likely. This weekend will be huge for the city of DC as the Redskins look to secure a playoff berth and the rising Wizards find themselves on the Warriors Schedule on Friday night.
In addition to the loss by Tampa Bay, the Redskins will also need to get help from the NFC North division. One loss by the Packers or two losses by the Detroit Lions will let Washington slip back into the playoffs. Since the Lions and Packers play in Week 17, one of these scenarios is guaranteed to happen if the Detroit loses to the Dallas Cowboys this week. It may seem odd for Washington fans to root for the Cowboys, but that is exactly what they should do. The competition looks like they will be able to help out the Redskins, so they just need to focus on winning their next two games. If they can do that, then the odds of making the playoffs will be very high.