Somebody’s going to make the NFL postseason despite a losing record. Given the way the season has gone, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
The NFC East (Least?) winner will be either Washington, which is 6-9, Dallas, also 6-9, or the 5-10 New York Giants. But Philadelphia, which was eliminated last Sunday by the Cowboys, will have a say.
Washington has the easiest path. Win and it’s in. The Cowboys can get in if they beat the Giants at the Meadowlands and the Eagles win over Washington in what will be the NBC national Sunday Night Football game to close out the regular season. Likewise for the Giants if they defeat Dallas and Philadelphia wins.
One thing we know for certain: if Washington wins, it will be without Dwayne Haskins. The much-troubled quarterback was released Monday after causing problems off the field by violating COVID-19 protocol and being ineffective on it. That means if Washington is to continue playing beyond Sunday night, it will have to be with Alex Smith, who has been nursing a calf injury, or Taylor Heinicke, who replaced Haskins in the starting lineup in the 20-13 loss to Carolina and was 12 of 19 for 137 yards and a touchdown.
The betting lines for both NFC East games quickly moved at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. The Cowboys went from pick’em to -2.5. Washington, which opened a 2-point underdog, was a 1-point favorite Monday.
— trey wingo (@wingoz) January 2, 2020
The other three NFC divisions have already been clinched with Green Bay in the North, New Orleans in the South and Seattle in the West. Two of the three Wild Card spots are still up for grabs with the Rams, Chicago and Arizona in the mix. Tampa Bay locked up its spot in the playoffs with its 47-7 thrashing of Detroit last Saturday.
The Rams will try and get there without quarterback Jared Goff, who had thumb surgery Monday and is out for the showdown with the Cards.
The AFC playoff picture is slightly less volatile. Kansas City won the West, Buffalo the East and Pittsburgh the North. The South remains up for grabs as Indianapolis and Tennessee are vying for the top spot. Both teams are 10-5.
The Colts, a two-touchdown favorite, host Jacksonville, the Titans travel to Houston and are a 7.5-point road favorite. If both win, Tennessee gets the division title on the tiebreaker. If either loses, the other can still earn a wild card. So could Miami, Baltimore or Cleveland, all of which sit at 10-5.
The Dolphins clinch with a win over Buffalo. The Ravens get in with a win over Cincinnati, a Browns loss to Pittsburgh or the Colts losing to the Jaguars. The Browns need to beat the Steelers to advance, but can get in even if they lose, provided the other teams jockeying for position with them also lose.
At least the final week of the season won’t be dull.