The Washington Post

Redskins, Cowboys, Vikings, Bears — Oh My!

Getting set for a full day of football, on the final week of the regular season, that has so many implications for the Redskins.

Think about that for a bit.

Not since 2007, when Joe Gibbs’s final Redskins team won the last four games of the regular season to sneak into the playoffs at 9-7, has Washington’s Week 17 game meant anything — at least for the Redskins. The quarterback five years ago was Todd Collins, a veteran placeholder. The whole feel of the franchise has changed since then.

You could make a pretty strong argument that tonight’s game — Cowboys-Redskins for the NFC East title — is the biggest game in FedEx Field history. The only other real contender is probably the NFC wild card playoff game following the 1999 season, in which the Brad Johnson-led Redskins beat Detroit (only to go on to lose at Tampa Bay the following week).

Things to keep in mind: If you want the Redskins in the playoffs as early as possible, root for Chicago to lose to Detroit (an early game) and Minnesota to lose to Green Bay (a later game). If both those things happen, the Redskins are in even before kickoff, and would be a wild-card even with a loss to the Cowboys. (What to do then? Go all-out? Ease off on Robert Griffin III’s knee?) But if either the Bears or the Vikings win, the Redskins need to beat the Cowboys to become NFC East champs and qualify as the No. 4 seed.

Things to read: Make sure to digest Dave Sheinin’s excellent piece on RGIII and leadership. Mark Maske takes stock of Mike Shanahan, whose reputation is coming back around.

And stick here all day. Cindy Boren will be chiming in, and I’ll be back at game time to help blog Cowboys-Redskins for the NFC East crown.

Whew.

Barry Svrluga is the national baseball writer for The Washington Post.
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