After winning four consecutive games to crawl back to .500 following a disappointing 2-6 start, the Washington Football Team has dropped two divisional games in a row as their furious fourth-quarter comeback came up short against the Dallas Cowboys and a COVID-ridden team fell to the Jalen Hurts-led Philadelphia Eagles. The Washington Football team is still right in the thick of the race for the NFC playoffs.
Despite the return of numerous key defensive linemen from the Covid-19 reserve list, including Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen, and Matt Ioannidis, Washington was gashed on the ground against the Eagles as they surrendered 238 yards on the ground with a whopping 5.8 yards per carry. While the offense did struggle to sustain drives, as they garnered just 237 yards of offense, it was expected after Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen were placed on the Covid-19 reserve list earlier in the week. In a spot start, Garrett Gilbert played admirably, completing 20 out of his 31 passes for 194 yards. However, the lack of offensive firepower, a struggling rush defense, and a depleted secondary, where Landon Collins was placed on IR earlier this week, led to a second straight defeat for Washington, knocking them out of a wildcard spot with a 6-8 record.
While the two losses put a dent in Washington’s playoff hopes, the Burgundy and Gold still have a legitimate opportunity to earn a second consecutive playoff berth to begin Ron Rivera’s tenure. Here is a look at the playoff scenarios for Washington.
Washington Football Team Playoffs: Week 16 Scenarios
The Current State of the NFC Wild Card Race
With the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans, the NFC Wild Card race has become a race for two playoff spots. The Rams or Cardinals will most likely be the fifth seed in this year’s playoffs, depending on who wins the division, as both teams have 10 wins on the season. However, prospects get much murkier when considering the sixth or seventh seeds. Currently, the San Francisco 49ers hold sole possession of the sixth seed with an 8-6 record. The Minnesota Vikings control the seventh seed with a 7-7 record as they hold tiebreakers over the New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles. They have a better win percentage in common games than the Eagles and a better conference win percentage than the New Orleans Saints.
Outside of these two teams, the Washington Football Team and Atlanta Falcons have the next most likely chances as they sit at 6-8 with Washington holding the tiebreaker by virtue of a Week 4 victory. Then, the Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks, and New York Giants are mathematically alive, but have bleak chances with the former two sitting at 5-9 and the latter at 4-10.
Going 3-0 to Finish the Season
By finishing the season 3-0, Washington will not only clinch its first winning season in the Ron Rivera era, but it will also put itself in a good position to make the playoffs. Rather than considering how Washington can make the playoffs in this scenario, which leads to plenty of oddities, let’s consider the ways that Washington could be on the outside looking in. The simplest scenario where Washington could be left out is if two out of the following three teams win out: the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, and San Francisco 49ers. The Saints have the easiest remaining schedule as they face the Dolphins, Panthers, and Falcons, but Ian Book is scheduled to make his first career start against Miami this week. The Vikings have a tough schedule as they still play the Rams and the Packers, while the 49ers visit the Rams in Week 18. If two of these teams win out, Washington would be left out with a 9-8 record as two teams would finish 10-7.
The second scenario for Washington to fail to make the playoffs is a tie for the final wild-card spot with the New Orleans Saints. This would mean that San Francisco wins its remaining two games, New Orleans finishes 2-1, and no other team in the NFC Wild Card race finishes with 9 wins. The reason for this is New Orleans holds a head-to-head advantage over Washington, courtesy of a 33-22 win in Week 5, but Washington would advance on conference win percentage if it is a three-way tie as they would finish the season 8-4 in NFC games.
Going 2-1 to Finish the season
The playoff scenarios if Washington finishes 8-9 are very similar to the conditions above. The most likely scenario for Washington to make the playoffs is if Washington gets into a three (or more) way tiebreaker with multiple teams at 8-9 as they would most likely advance given their conference record, finishing 7-5 in the NFC.
This would mean at most one team from the Eagles, Saints, Vikings, 49ers, and Falcons could finish 9-8 or better. The rest of the teams must finish 8-9 or worse. The Eagles, Vikings, and Saints must go 1-2 or worse, the 49ers must lose out, and the Falcons need to go 2-1 or worse for each of the teams to get to 8-9. Although the Panthers and Seahawks could also get to 8-9 by winning out, the Seahawks are 2-7 in the NFC and the Panthers are 3-6 in the NFC, which effectively eliminates them from this scenario.
Like above, if the 49ers finish with more than eight wins, which seems likely given that they play the Houston Texans in Week 17, a two-way tie with the Saints for the seventh seed would also eliminate Washington.
Going 1-2 to Finish the Season
If Washington finishes the season 7-10, they will all but be eliminated from playoff contention. However, there is a scenario where Washington could advance for the purposes of this exercise. It is so convoluted that it will require a five-way tie for the seventh wild card spot. First, Washington’s lone win must be in Week 17 against the Eagles as Philadelphia would reach eight wins if they defeat Washington. The Saints, Vikings, and Eagles must all lose out and the Falcons can only win one game, which is their Week 18 affair against the Saints. In addition to this, the Giants must beat the Eagles in Week 16, but also lose to the Bears in Week 17. Finally, Carolina must lose at least one of their games to the Buccaneers. An oddity of this scenario is that the Bears must win out, which would put them at 7-10.
All in all, if Washington finishes 7-10, then they will almost certainly not be in the playoffs.
Going 0-3 to Finish the Season
This is by far the simplest scenario for the Washington Football Team. Washington will be eliminated from playoff contention by going 0-3 to finish the season by virtue of them already being one game back from the seventh wild card spot.
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