Redskins Blog: Playoffs?? Skins' Tiebreaker Edge

The Skins odds of making the playoffs are very long, but they have a key tiebreaker edge that puts them in play.

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You can reach me by email at rtandler@comcast.net

Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs' Washington Redskins. Get details and order at http://GutCheckBook.com

December 7, 2004

Playoffs?......Playoffs?

You come here to get the skinny on what needs to happen for the Redskins to make the playoffs. You get it.

I was ready to write a long complicated article here, but it's really, really simple. Even though there are literally thousands of possible combinations of how the 11 teams with from six to eight losses could finish up, it boils down to this:

If the Redskins win out to finish at 8-8, they will be in the playoffs for certain unless one of three things happens:

Two other non-division winners finish with nine or more wins. Obviously, this would bump the Redskins out on the basis of record.

OR

The Packers or a Ram team that lost to the Jets are one of the teams that finish 8-8. That would not necessarily eliminate the Redskins, but if they should emerge from the tiebreakers in the NFC North (I'll explain this little-noted NFL tiebreaker feature in a moment), the Pack would beat the Redskins out on the basis of their Halloween day win in FedEx and the Rams could get in ahead of Washington on the basis of other tiebreakers.

If you've made it this far through this blog, you are probably familiar with the NFL tiebreaking procedures, which you can find here: http://www.nfl.com/standings/tiebreakers Here are the procedures for a Wild Card tie among three or more teams. Pay particular attention to the first one on the list:
Three or More Clubs (for Wild Card)
1. Apply division tie breaker to eliminate all but the highest ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step 2.
2. Head-to-head sweep. (Applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others.)
3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
5. Strength of victory.
6. Strength of schedule.
7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
9. Best net points in conference games.
10. Best net points in all games.
11. Best net touchdowns in all games.
12. Coin toss
So, only one team will "represent" each division in the Wild Card tiebreaker. If the Redskins win out, they will be the NFC East team in the mix if the Cowboys and/or Giants also finish at 8-8. Head to head wouldn't matter as the Redskins would have split with both. The Redskins would be 3-3 in the division and that is the best either Dallas or New York could be.

It would then come down to conference record. And here's the thing that makes it so simple for the Redskins. If they win out, they will be 8-4 in the conference. Except for Philadelphia, and they're not in the discussion here, no other NFC team except the Rams that finishes 8-8 can finish with any better than a 7-5 NFC record.

That would give the Redskins the tiebreaker within the division. They would then advance on to matching up against any representatives from the other three divisions. From the West, that could be the Rams, Seahawks, or Cardinals. The Redskins will not have played any of those teams so it will come down to conference record. Seattle's and Arizona's would be worse that theirs, so the Skins would prevail there. St. Louis could also finish at 8-4 in the NFC, so it would go down the list. There aren't four common games, so it would come down to strength of victory and it's way too early to judge that (although a Redskin win over Philly would certainly boost that).

Atlanta needs just one more win to clinch the South, but if they collapse to 8-8 the Redskins would beat them out. Washington beat Tampa Bay head to head and 8-8 New Orleans and Carolina teams would be 7-5 in the conference at best.

And, in the North, an 8-8 Redskins team would have beaten Detroit, Chicago, and Minnesota and would have lost to Green Bay. Now the Packers are 7-5 and it would take a 1-3 finish for them to finish at 8-8, so it's best just to pull for them to win a couple more. If they do end up in that mix, it would depend on who they beat to determine if they emerge from the North for that win over Washington to do them any good.

So who do you root for this Sunday before settling in at 8:30 to watch the Redskins? Pull for:
  • Jacksonville to beat Chicago
  • New Orleans to beat Dallas
  • Green Bay to beat Detroit
  • St. Louis to beat Carolina (this one is borderline, but Carolina needs to be cooled off lest they keep rolling and end up with 9 wins)
  • Baltimore to beat the Giants
  • San Diego to beat Tampa Bay
Seattle at Minnesota is a tough one. They're both tied for their respective division leads with the teams that the Redskins don't want in the tiebreaker mix, the Rams and Packers. Since you want one both of them in the 8-8 Wild Card mix, I'd say got for Seattle since they have the worse record at 6-6. But the Redskins fans really can't win or lose in this one.

Should the Redskins still be alive after this Sunday I'll produce another "root for" list next week.

I'm doing this mostly for fun. It will take 7 teams to lose a combined 8 out of 28 games for the Redskins to make the playoffs (that's Dallas, New York, Detroit, Chicago, Carolina, and Tampa Bay losing once each and Seattle losing twice). And, oh by the way, the Redskins going 4-0.

I'm not betting the ranch on the chances of making the playoffs—I wouldn't even bet the dog house at this point. But if they can beat the Eagles and a good number of the "root fors" come through on Sunday, it gets into the "stranger things have happened" category.

December 6, 2004

Domination

Someday, perhaps in the middle of the 2005 season, there will be a day when dominating a beat-up New York Giants team will not be such a big deal.
  • A two-to-one time of possession edge? Ho-hum, routine stuff.
  • Two touchdown drives of over 90 yards? Nice, but it happens so often, we lost track.
  • Over 30 points scored? Yeah, sorry we couldn't put on a better show for the fans.
  • No dropped passes? Well, duh, that's what we're paid to do.
  • Ramsey with a QB rating of 139? Gosh, I hope that doesn't pull his number for the season down too much.
  • Almost a buck fifty from the running back? Again, sorry CP was a bit off this week, we'll try to get him up to his usual production next week.
But for now, for this year, there is good reason to enjoy this one. As the Redskins were being interviewed after the game, there were grins on their faces that just couldn't be wiped off. And while the Giants are not a very good team right now, let's dispose of this nonsense that that fact takes anything away from the win. In 2004, as has been the case for much of the past 12 years, the Redskins have lost a lot of games to teams like the Giants. In fact, of their eight losses, two have come against the cream of the NFL crop in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, two against second-tier teams in Green Bay and Baltimore, and four have been against thoroughly mediocre teams in Cleveland, Dallas, Cincinnati, and the Giants in their earlier meeting. The most they could score against any of those dogs was 18. They let the offenses of each of those teams move the ball on them, something they have all had trouble doing against the rest of the NFL.

But not Sunday. They went out and whipped the Giants like a rented whipping boy.

Don't ever make the mistake of underestimating the importance of beating up on the Little Sister of the Poor. Most playoff teams get through the year beating just one or two teams with winning records. They fatten up the win total by easily winning the easily winnable games. If the Redskins are to be successful in the future, it's something they'll have to get done.

Predictions Analysis: Nailing It

First, before I get into this, I need to let you know something if you're not a regular reader of this blog. Every week, I make predictions about what will happen during the upcoming game. In the day or two after the game, I always come back and put my predictions up against what really happened (except when I correctly predict a Redskins loss, since that's no fun). I've been very off base sometimes and I've been kind of close sometimes, but I always come back to face the music one way or the other. It's important that you know that because:

I really nailed this game!

and I want to make sure everyone knows that I'm not one who comes out and takes the bows when I'm right and forgets everything that was said when I'm wrong.

I see how well my predictions held water and then give them a number of buckets from one to five to indicate how accurate they were. Sometimes, I give each prediction a number; today, baby, they're all

Five Buckets!

Tiki Barber, just like in the first meeting, won't find much running room. He ran for just 42 yards, one of his lowest outputs of a season in which he's averaging over 100 yards per game. Put him down for another 42 yards and a (rare for this season) fumble.
Barber ran for 38 yards and fumbled (the Giants recovered).
That will make it tough going for Manning, but even though Gregg Williams will bring the house at him and pressure and confuse him, I don't think that the rookie will fold. He won't lead them to a win, but he won't be the reason that they lose.
This is somewhat subjective, but Manning didn't turn the ball over and took just one sack. I don't think he's the reason they lost. If you have an opinion to the contrary, please pass it on to me.
Ramsey will have one of his best games. He'll have time to throw and will be able to connect on one or two bombs, assuming that the receivers can gather in balls that are in their hands. If things go well, he won't have to pass that often so he won't have a big yardage total. Let's say he passes about 20 times for right around 200 yards and two TD's.
While he didn't connect on any bombs, he passed 22 times for 174 yards and three TD's. Close enough in my book.
Portis will not be complaining about a lack of work after this one. Thirty carries, 125 yards.
Portis had 31 carries for 148.
This time, the Redskins will do it right. The first time they get the ball they will march in for a touchdown. Then they will keep that lead for the rest of the day. Redskins 24, Giants 10
First Redskin drive was 13 plays, 93 yards, 7:15 for a touchdown and a lead they never relinquished. Final 31-7. Like the Redskins, good performance this week. The key is consistency and that's been an issue, again both here at the blog and at Redskins Park. We'll see next week. To leave comments and view archives, go to this blog's mirror site at http://redskinsblog.blogspot.com


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