You’d think playoff scenarios would get less confusing as we entered the last week of the season. Not so, apparently. While the teams playing on the AFC side of the playoff bracket are set, two spots are still up in the air on the NFC side. The Falcons, Packers, Seahawks, and 49ers have all punched their tickets to the postseason, but the other two teams can be any mixture of the Redskins, Cowboys, Giants, Vikings, and Bears…o my. Redskins fans are the only cohort that gets the luxury of sitting back Sunday, doing nothing, and possibly obtaining a playoff birth. When Faith Hill starts singing and the ball is about to be kicked off Sunday night the Redskins will already know if they’ve locked up a wild card spot or if they need to beat the ‘Boys for a NFC East title. So, as a Redskins fan would you rather that Sunday’s game be less meaningful by “backing into” the playoffs? Would you at least feel a little more comfortable?
For one, the Redskins have gone beyond my wildest expectations this season. Regardless of what happens Sunday I will stand and applaud Mike Shanahan, Robert Griffin III, and the rest of the organization. I’m excited by the meaning of Sunday night’s game versus the Cowboys, but I’d also like to breath easy with a Chicago and Minnesota loss. The Bears have a stiff contest, on the road, against the Lions. Sure the Lions aren’t playing for much, but a win against a division rival would certainly be huge heading into next year, especially for Jim Schwartz. You just know that Detroit isn’t going to lay down for Chicago.
If Chicago falls at one o’clock then Redskins fans’ eyes will go to Minnesota with Green Bay visiting at 4:25 PM. Green Bay has a playoff spot and division title locked up, but they are still fighting for a bye in the first week of the playoffs. Their competition for that bye is the San Francisco 49ers. Thankfully, the Niners and Pack will be playing at the same time. As Green Bay is battling the Vikings, the Niner will be taking on the lowly Cardinals at home. The Vikings are desperate, but how will Green Bay play this one? Will they go for the kill? Will the Vikings fall in love with Adrian Peterson‘s pursuit of Eric Dickerson? This game will have interesting storylines no matter what. The outcome of the Bears game is basically irrelevant for these two squads and a Green Bay loss would likely mean the two teams would clash once again, a week later in the first round of the playoffs in Green Bay.
If the Packers and Lions win their respective games then some pressure may be taken off of Redskins fans. That scenario means that if the Skins lose then they’ll likely be heading for a first round match up against the San Francisco 49ers. But the real question is if this scenario plays out will the Redskins feel pressure taken off or will they treat Sunday night like a must-win game? With one swoop the Redskins could claim their first division title since 1999 and knock their rivals out of the playoffs. A win would also solidify only the second home playoff game in FedEx Field history, likely against Russell Wilson‘s Seahawks.
Obviously, all Redskins fans want to see the burgundy and gold take down Dallas on Sunday. But would you like to rest just a little easier come 8:30?