The city of Philadelphia has been kind to the Washington Redskins over the last two seasons. Last year, the Redskins defeated the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Dec. 26 to clinch the NFC East division title. On Sunday, the Redskins kept their playoff hopes alive by squeezing out a 27-22 victory on the road – their fifth straight win over the Eagles.
“It’s always great to sweep a divisional opponent, especially the Eagles,” said defensive end Chris Baker, who walked over near a group of Eagles’ fans to relish in their hatred before the game. “We’ve got a lot of bad blood. They hate us. We hate them. I’m just glad we found a way to leave here on a happy note.”
Despite their win, the Redskins (7-5-1) were not able to make up ground in the playoff race Sunday. The Atlanta Falcons (8-5), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5) and New York Giants (9-4) all won to maintain their distance over Washington with three games remaining.
The Falcons and Bucs are just a half game ahead of the Redskins with their victories over the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints. Atlanta currently holds the tiebreaker over Tampa Bay for the NFC South division lead, while Tampa Bay possesses the final wild card spot with the sixth seed. Washington is the first team out of the NFC playoff picture at the moment in seventh.
The Giants have the fifth seed and remain 1 ½ games ahead of the Redskins following their victory over the Dallas Cowboys. The NFC wild card picture gained some clarity, though. The Minnesota Vikings (7-6) and the Green Bay Packers (7-6) are the only two teams behind the Redskins with a legitimate shot at a wild card spot with their victories over the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Seattle Seahawks.
Washington now has a 49 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to Upshot.
“This game kind of felt like the one we had last year because right now in the situation we’re in, we know for us to have a good chance of making the playoffs that we need to win every game from here on out,” Redskins running back Chris Thompson said. “We’ve had adversity all year. All the guys have done a great job of answering and when you’ve been in these situations, you don’t lose hope. Now, three years ago, I couldn’t have said we would’ve fought this hard in the second half to come back and win this game. Now, this group has been together for a while and we’ve been fighting for each other. We just never lose hope in any situation.”
There are multiple scenarios in which Washington can obtain either the fifth or sixth seed, including its season finale against New York at FedEx Field on Jan. 1 that could have significant wild card implications. While the Redskins will need some help, the players in the locker room feel that winning their final three games gives them the best opportunity of grabbing one of the two wild card spots over the Giants or Bucs. That goal continues on Monday night, when Washington hosts the Carolina Panthers.
“That’s why we’ve got to finish 10-5-1 because we just don’t know,” Thompson said. “Like Tampa Bay, I’ve seen Jameis [Winston] in college and the way he gets his guys together and gets them to play hard and his leadership. He knows what’s at hand, and he’s sending a great message to them too. From here on out, all of us are trying to win out to get a chance at the playoffs. We’ve just got to keep pushing, and I think we’ll be fine.”