Washington Redskins' NFL playoff hopes are still alive despite injuries

The Washington Post's Rick Maese, Dan Steinberg, Cindy Boren and Jonathan Forsythe recap the Redskins' overtime win in Tennessee and preview the upcoming game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 24, 2010; 1:27 AM

With six games remaining, the Washington Redskins still are positioned to compete for a postseason berth despite season-long problems on offense and defense, and a staggering number of recent injuries.

The Redskins hold potential tiebreakers against some of their competitors for the two NFC wild-card spots, but they face major challenges as they try to achieve the overall record they'll likely need before tiebreakers will matter.

Owner Daniel M. Snyder hired Coach Mike Shanahan to be a difference-maker in such situations, and the Redskins, albeit somewhat surprisingly, are still in the hunt.

"It's definitely not over for us," cornerback and defensive co-captain DeAngelo Hall said. "We've been through some ups and downs, but we're still with these teams [in contention]. We've got to take care of business, yeah, but we can get there."

Probably not without at least 10 victories, though.

A conference race that seemed wide open a few weeks ago appears clearer now. There are six NFC teams with at least seven victories, including the Philadelphia Eagles, who lead the East at 7-3. The South-leading Atlanta Falcons (8-2) have the conference's top mark.

The Redskins (5-5) are third in the East, trailing the Eagles and New York Giants (6-4). The surging Eagles have won three in a row to move atop the division, and although anything could happen, the reality is that the wild-card seems to be the Redskins' most likely route to an extended season.

Among non-division leaders, the Green Bay Packers (7-3), New Orleans Saints (7-3), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) and Giants have better records than the Redskins. If Green Bay, New Orleans and Tampa Bay split their remaining six games, each would finish with 10-6 records. The Giants would end the season at 9-7.

The Redskins' path to the playoffs is clear. And difficult.

They must finish 5-1, which would put them at 10-6, and hope that's good enough. Records within the division and conference are among the playoff tiebreaker criteria, and the Redskins already have defeated the Packers and North-leading Chicago Bears (7-3). The Redskins have two games remaining against the Giants and also host the surprising Buccaneers Dec. 12 at FedEx Field.

The Redskins are at home against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, and have road games remaining against the Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Although aware of the big picture, most players preferred to focus on Sunday's game against the Vikings because "this is a week-to-week league," said inside linebacker and defensive co-captain London Fletcher. "I've never been one to say, 'Well, if we do this in this game, then if we do this in this game,' because each week's game is the biggest game you play.

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