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Redskins’ Path to Playoffs Easier Said Than Done

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Despite losing quarterbacks Alex Smith to a broken fibula and tibia and Colt McCoy to a broken fibula along with a host of injuries that have included four offensive guards, the Washington Redskins still have an easy path to the playoffs. However, it’s easier said than done.

It’s simple, if the Redskins win their three remaining regular season games, and the Kirk Cousins-led Minnesota Vikings lose one of their final three games of the season, the Redskins would be in the playoffs no matter what. 

The Redskins have a 6-7 record, as well as the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers. Currently, Washington is ninth in the standings by virtue of losing the tiebreaker for the three-way tie. All three sit just 1/2 game behind the Vikings for the second NFC Wild Card and sixth and final seed. 

However, if the Redskins win their final three games which would include beating the Eagles in a Week 17 matchup at FedEx Field and a Vikings’ loss, the Redskins would catapult into at least the sixth seed. 

Winning out, would place the Redskins at 9-7 and beating the Eagles would hand them an eighth loss. Even if the Panthers win out as well, the Redskins would win the tie-breaker as they beat the Panthers 23-17 in Week 6. Minnesota would have seven losses as well, but because of their Week 2 tie with the Packers would only have eight wins.

The likelihood of the Vikings losing again is strong, considering how much they’ve struggled in recent weeks, as well as their daunting schedule that includes matchups against the 7-6 Miami Dolphins and 9-4 Chicago Bears, a team that beat them earlier in the season. 

Unfortunately, the hard part may be the Redskins winning out. Washington is on their fourth quarterback of the season, as Josh Johnson will start Sunday at the Jacksonville Jaguars. Johnson has not started an NFL game in seven years. 

Washington has lost four straight which coincides with Smith’s gruesome sending-ending compound fracture in his leg in Week 11. They’re also 1-4 since both starting guards Shawn Lauvao and Pro Bowler Brandon Scherff were lost for the season with a torn ACL and torn pectoral, respectively. 

Running back Adrian Peterson has failed to rush for 100 yards in any of the last six games. And that’s despite a 90-yard second quarter touchdown run in Week 13 against the Eagles. His struggles are a byproduct of a mixture of both Lauvao and Scherff being out and the injury to Smith.

The defense has been just as bad, allowing 425.7 yards per game in their last six games. That includes giving up at least 130 yards on the ground in each of the last four games, including 227 last week against the New York Giants in an embarrassing 40-16 loss.

Their frustrating performance has led to off-the-field drama from three of its defensive leaders. Safety DJ Swearinger continuously calling out the coaching staff in various ways after a loss. Inside linebacker and captain Mason Foster, or his cousin depending on who you want to believe, sending inappropriate and bashing messages of the organization, his teammates, and the fan base. Meanwhile, fellow starting inside linebacker Zach Brown ripping the team while expecting to leave at season end because he is not pleased about being benched last week.

The Redskins will look to Johnson and his ability to create with his legs outside of the pocket to spark their offense and hopefully alleviate some pressure and frustration from the defense. 

Johnson threw for 195 yards and a touchdown as well as rushed for 45 yards and a touchdown in two quarters against the Giants after Mark Sanchez was benched. It’s hard to gauge if the strong play was more of his abilities or the fact the Giants were protecting a 40-point lead. 

Washington will find out soon when they face the Jaguars, who have the sixth-ranked defense in the NFL that includes allowing the second-fewest passing yards per game (203.7). The saving grace is Cody Kessler is the Jaguars’ quarterback. The Jaguars’ offense has struggled all season, ranking 25th in the league in yards and 30th in scoring with the combination of Kessler and Blake Bortles at quarterback.

After the Jaguars, the Redskins will face the 7-6 Tennessee Titans. Tennessee has the ninth-ranked defense, sixth against the pass and are in the postseason hunt in the AFC. Then the Redskins get the Eagles, who may be without quarterback Carson Wentz. However, his backup Nick Foles was last year’s Super Bowl MVP. 

The Redskins have a simple path to the playoffs. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done with all the circumstances surrounding a team that appears to be fading. 

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