Jack Pardee's message to his team when the Redskins gather today for their first meeting of the week will be simple enough: win the last two games of the season and a wild-card berth in the playoffs should be assured.
Five NFC teams are still in contention for the conference's two wild-card spots: Washington, Philadelphia and Atlanta, all 8-6, and Minnesota and Green Bay, both 8-5-1 and tied for the Central Division lead.
A Redskin victory Sunday would eliminate the Falcons. A Redskin victory over the Bears the following week, coupled with an Eagle loss to either the Cowboys or Giants, also would get the Redskins a wild-card spot. Should the Redskins win their last two and either the Vikings or Packers lose one, Washington would be in the playoffs.
If the regular season ended with the Redskins and Eagles tied at 10-6 and both the Vikings and Packers at 10-5-1, Philadelphia would beat out Washington as a wild-card team on the basis of the second tie-breaking procedure: record in division.
The Redskins have finished the NFC East with a 4-4 mark. The Eagles are 3-3, and victories in their last two games would give them the edge, 5-3.
Green Bay closes its season at Chicago and Los Angeles. Minnesota finishes at Detroit and at Oakland.
A Redskin source said running back Mike Thomas showed up 20 minutes late for a meeting before Saturday's practice and was fined accordingly... "Anybody who is late is fined," Pardee said, without confirming the report of Thomas' tardiness. "We don't make that information public"...Only worrisome casualty from the Miami gaine was middle linebacker Harold McLinton, who pulled a groin muscle but is expected to be available against Atlanta... Guard Ron Saul, who missed his first start in three years Sunday with a groin injury, was described by Pardee as "very doubtful against the Falcons... Mark Moseley's streak of 55 straight games with at least a point was broken Sunday... Atlanta's defense has recovered 22 fumbles and has 41 quarterback sacks, one short of the club record... The Falcons have posted four victories this season with rallies in the final two minutes.