Redskins would likely face Seahawks or 49ers if they make NFL playoffs

 


One of these teams will likely be the Redskins’ first-round opponent should Washington advance to the playoffs. (Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

If the Redskins reach the playoffs, it appears likely they will play either the Seattle Seahawks or San Francisco 49ers in the opening round.

The Redskins (9-6) would win the NFC East and be the fourth seed in the NFC playoffs if they beat the Dallas Cowboys (8-7) at home next Sunday night. In that case, they would likely host the Seahawks (10-5), who have clinched a playoff spot and appear on course to be the NFC’s fifth seed.

If they lose to the Cowboys, the Redskins still could reach the playoffs as a wild card if both the Minnesota Vikings (9-6) and Chicago Bears (9-6) lose earlier Sunday. In that case, the Redskins would likely play at San Francisco (10-4-1). The Vikings losing to the Green Bay Packers (11-4) would secure the second seed for Green Bay, and probably would leave the 49ers as the third seed to host the sixth-seeded Redskins.

The Seahawks still could pass the 49ers to win the NFC West next weekend. But that would require a Seahawks win at home over the St. Louis Rams and a loss by the 49ers at home to the Arizona Cardinals, who have lost 10 of their last 11 games.

With the Redskins-Cowboys game being flexed to Sunday night, the Redskins will know when they take the field what’s at stake.

They would clinch a playoff spot earlier Sunday if the Vikings lose to the Packers and the Bears lose to the Detroit Lions. In that case, the Redskins would be playing to see if they reach the playoffs as a division winner or as a wild card.

But if the Vikings or Bears win earlier Sunday, it becomes an all-or-nothing game for the Redskins in which a victory gives them the NFC East title but a loss sends them home without making the playoffs.

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.

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Keith McMillan · December 24, 2012