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Playoffs? Playoffs? Tuesday Edition

Well, so I guess we are allowed to go ahead and write about the playoffs for those plucky 4-7 Skins.

But forget what the players say; this is what the fans are saying. After last night's Georgetown-Ball State game I met WashPost staffers Des Bieler and Mitch Rubin at a local watering hole, not knowing a bloggable situation would ensue. Some folks were sitting at the bar watching MNF, and when the Seahawks pulled ahead, foreshadowing the Packers' crucial seventh loss, two gents in particular exploded. "JOE GIBBS WINS!" they screamed. "LET'S GO REDSKINS! LET''S GO REDSKINS!"

"We're Redskins fans," they explained, when I asked what was up. "We're going to the playoffs!!!!"

"These people are idiots," Mitch said, but that didn't stop me from pursuing this item. I attempted to interview them, but was interrupted by their loud and long rendition of "Hail to the Redskins," featuring the following lyrics:

"Joe, Joe Joe Joe-Joe;
Joe, Joe Joe Joe.
Joe, Joe Joe Joe-Joe;
Joe! Joe Joe! Joe Jooooooe!"

"Are you taking a survey?" asked a woman at the bar.

"Survey says: the Redskins are going to the playoffs!!!" one of the guys said.

"Here's the thing: we refuse to believe there's not a chance," said David Kline, one of the singers and an O'Connell High grad.

"I won't say they're [definitely] going to the playoffs; I still have hope, though," said Stephen Albers, his partner in singing and a Herndon High grad.

"We will make a run. We will make a run," Kline said.

"Joe Gibbs wins in December. And January," Albers said.

And if that doesn't convince you to have hope, read this

enormously enjoyable playoff analysis, which has the Skins controlling their playoff destiny by week 17. It was posted on the Bog as a comment yesterday by some deranged soul, but it deserves to be up here. Have at it:

OK, this is kind of crazy, but lets ignore the records, and compare this year after week 12 with last year after week 12. The bottom line is if the 'skins win their next two games, which are eminently winnable games, things might look surprisingly good for their chances on making the playoffs.

This year, the skins are 4-7, two games behind wild card leaders NY Giants and Carolina Panthers, each at 6-5. 5 teams are in between at 5-6 -- Philly, Minnesota, Atlanta, St. Louis, and San Francisco. Green Bay has not played, but would be 5-6 with a win. We'll assume they lose since they are big underdogs to the Seahawks tonight.

Last year, the skins were 5-6, 2 games behind three teams at the top of the wild card chase, Giants, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay, each at 7-4. There was just one team in between -- 6-5 Minnesota.

So, basically, the 'skins are _better_ off this year but for all those pesky intervening teams. We have 7 teams ahead of us vs. 4, but only 2 teams are 2 games up on us, vs. 3 last year.

Lets look at what happens if we have a reasonable best case next week -- the skins win next week against Atlanta, and the two wild card leaders lose -- Giants vs. Dallas, and Carolina at Philly. That is not fantasy-land -- other than the Carolina game, which is basically a toss-up, it is consistent with the oddmakers (who actually pick the skins to win next week). Also, Minnesota loses at Chicago; St. Louis beats Arizona. And San Francisco loses at New Orleans. Again, all of this is consistent with the oddmakers.

Then we have this wild card scenario after week 13:

Giants -- 6-6 (Conf -- 5-3)
Carolina -- 6-6 (Conf -- 4-5)
Philly -- 6-6 (Conf -- 4-4)
St. Louis -- 6-6 (Conf -- 5-4)
Minnesota -- 5-7 (Conf -- 5-4)
'skins -- 5-7 (Conf -- 3-5)
Atlanta -- 5-7 (Conf -- 3-5)
San Francisco -- 5-7 (Conf 4-5) (they would have tie breaker on us at this point).

Now, with 4 weeks to play, we can talk turkey -- we are 1 game out of the wild card, and only 5 teams are in front of us for the 2 spots. It is starting to look a lot like last year -- when, after week 13, we were 1 game down of the lowest wild card spot with 4 teams in front of us (Dallas, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Atlanta). Now I'm starting to like our chances.

So, now lets handicap Week 14. The 'skins of course have to win -- at home vs. Philly. That is certainly doable. Giants play Carolina in Carolina, so one of those teams has to lose. Lets say the Giants pull one out (though, it could work either way, this would likely be far better since we have the tie breaker on Carolina). St. Louis now gets its turn at the Chicago Bears merry go round -- that is gonna be a tough game to win. Minnesota is at Detroit -- lets assume Minnesota wins that one. Atlanta is at Tampa Bay, and they lose. San Francisco is playing Green Bay, and lets pick Favre to knock them out of contention. But there is quite a bit of flexibility with respect to these teams tied to the 'skins -- win or lose -- they've only gotta lose one more than we do.

So...after week 14:

Giants -- 7-6 (Conf -- 6-3)
Minnesota -- 6-7 (Conf -- 6-4)
St. Louis -- 6-7 (Conf -- 5-5)
'skins -- 6-7 (Conf -- 4-5)
Philly -- 6-7 (Conf -- 4-5)
Carolina -- 6-7 (Conf -- 4-5)
Atlanta -- 5-8
SF -- 5-8

Now, we are 4th in a competition for two spots, all with a tie in team records. So, if we just look forward and win the next two games, we could be in a really great wild card position. Last year after week 14, the 'skins had 4 teams in front of them for the wild card, each of them one or more wins ahead of the redskins (Dallas, Minnesota, Carolina, Atlanta). Bottom line is, we win the next two, and we are in _much_ better shape than we were last year at the same time.

For this year, however, we really need to count at this point on St. Louis and Minnesota coming apart. Turn to Week 15.

Again, gotta assume the skins can make it 3 in a row -- and it is gonna be a tough game to win, since we are at New Orleans. Philly is at Giants -- hard to bet against the Giants in that one. Minnesota is playing the Jets at home -- Minnesota will probably win. St. Louis is in Oakland -- no way they lose that game. And Pittsburgh is in Carolina. Who knows who will win that one -- lets say Carolina comes through. So the week is kind of a wash:

Giants -- 8-6 (conf. -- 7-3)
Minnesota -- 7-7 (Conf -- 7-4)
St. Louis -- 7-7 (Conf. 6-5)
'skins -- 7-7 (Conf. 5-5)
Carolina -- 7-7 (Conf. 5-5).
Philly -- 6-8

Now, week 16 -- second to the last week. Skins are in St. Louis -- this will have all kinds of playoff implications, and we gotta win. New Orleans is at the Giants, but that game should not matter. Minnesota is at Green Bay -- they must lose this game; hope it is cold and snowy. And Carolina is at Atlanta, again, they will likely win that one, but we have the tie breaker on them so we don't care so much.

Giants -- 8-7 (conf. 7-4)
'skins -- 8-7 (conf. 6-5)
Carolina -- 8-7 (conf. 6-5) (we have tie-breaker based on head-to-head victory) Minnesota -- 7-8 St. Louis -- 7-8.

there you have it -- after week 15, our wild card future is in our own hands. And we'll be playing a desperate Giants team at home in the closer. Should be a great game!

By Dan Steinberg  |  November 28, 2006; 9:42 AM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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