Sharpen a pencil, break out the calculator and listen because the Redskin wild-card possibilities are terribly complicated. Not even a 9-5 Washington record guarantees a playoff berth.
Redskins vs. Cardinals - The loser of Saturday's game will be eliminated from the wild-card race. If the Redskins win, they would have an 8-6 record at least, and the Cardinals could finish no better than 8-6. Because Washington won two games between the teams, the Redskins would get the bid.
If the Redskins lose to St. Louis, the Cardinals would get the edge over Washington if both finished 8-6 because the Cardinals would have a better record in the East Division, 5-3 to Washington's 3-5.
Redskins vs. Bears - If the Redskins and Bears finish the season tied at 9.5 and the Vikings win the NFC Central, the tie would be broken by a category of point differential in conference games. At the moment, the Bears have outscored their conference opponents by 194-160. The Redskins have been outscored by their opponents, 145-140. So the Bears have a 39-point bulge after 12 games.
The Redskins would be better off having Chicago win the Central Division. That will happen if the Bears finish 9-5 and the Vikings, now 8-4, either lose their remaining two games, or defeat Oakland and lose to Detroit in the season finale.Chicago would then win the Central because the Bears would have a better record in the division, 6-1 to 5-2.
Redskins vs. Vikings: If the Vikings lose to Oakland and defeat Detroit, they would win the Central title over a 9-5 Bear team because they have a better point differential in two games against Chicago.
If the Vikings finish 9-5 by beating Oakland and losing to Detroit and were tied with the Redskins. Washington would win the wild-card berth because of a better record in the conference, 8-4 to Minnesota's 7-5.
Redskins vs. Atlanta - If the Redskins and Falcons finished 8-6 and Chicago finished 7-7, the Redskins would get the playoff spot over the Falcons by virtue of its 10-6 victory over Atlanta in September. For that to happen, the Redskins would have to beat St. Louis and lose to the Rams and the Bears would have to lose to the Packers and Giants in their last two games.
If Washington, Atlanta and Chicago all finished 8-6, the normal conference tie-breaking procedures would be used, and it also could come down to point differential in conference games.
The picture in the AFC also is complicated. In the Central Division. Cincinnati can win the title by defeating the division-leading Pittsburgh Steelers by at least six points and by beating Houston the following week. A Steeler victory over the Bengals would cinch the title for Pittsburgh.
A Baltimore Colt victory over Miami Monday night would eliminate the Dolphins from the East Division title race. The Colts magic number would clinch the title for Pittsburgh, victory or New England defeat would give the Colts the crown.
A Miami victory Monday hight would mean that either the Dolphins or the Patriots could win the division title race. The Colts' magic number.
Earlier results among the three teams could be important in breaking ties: Baltimore has beaten Miami by 17 points; New England beat Baltimore by 14 in their first meeting, and Miami defeated New England by 12.