It’s NFL Playoff Machine season, folks.
Every year in mid-November, ESPN publishes an application that allows you to see how different possible outcomes in the final weeks of the season will affect the playoff picture.
And if you’re like me, then you immediately try to come up with the silliest scenario possible. How can I find a way to keep the Patriots out of the playoffs? And what needs to happen to get the worst teams — like Washington, perhaps — in the postseason?
The Giants were eliminated in Week 13 when a loss to the Packers dropped them to 2-10, but Washington kept its season alive with a win over the Panthers. However, Washington was knocked out of playoff contention a week later with a loss to the Packers.
Washington still has a shot to finish in a 6-10 tie with the Cowboys and/or Eagles, but it has no shot at winning the NFC East anymore.
I would have taken a miracle for Washington to turn things around
Washington already had nine losses coming into Week 14, so it was already assured a losing season.
The 6-7 Cowboys and 5-7 Eagles were still in striking distance, though. The NFC East title was Washington’s only shot at the playoffs, because in a conference with five eight-plus win teams, the wild card was impossible.
The scenario for Washington was pretty simple: Win out and hope the Cowboys and Eagles fall flat on their faces. Week 13 was a good start. Washington was the only NFC East team that came away with a win. Week 14 has also started favorably when Dallas lost to Chicago.
A Week 16 matchup between Dallas and Philadelphia means the two division leaders can’t both lose out, but hypothetically, the Cowboys and Eagles could both finish 6-10.
Washington closes out the season with three straight divisional opponents. Still, even if Washington won its last three to get to 6-10— including wins over the Cowboys and Eagles — it’d have a 3-3 record in NFC East play. Dallas already has four divisional wins, guaranteeing it has that tiebreaker.
That’s why Washington’s loss to the Packers was all it took to eliminate the team.
The Giants’ small chance disappeared because they didn’t win out
Even if the 2-9 Giants had pulled off five straight wins, they would’ve finished below .500. Now the team has double-digit losses and are officially eliminated.
The Giants were already out of commission for a wild card berth, but would 7-9 have been enough for the division crown? Probably not, although it probably would’ve been enough to top the Eagles.
New York and Philadelphia meet for divisional clashes in Weeks 14 and 17. A season sweep for the Giants would guarantee at least eight losses for the Eagles and secure a tiebreaker for New York.
Unfortunately for the Giants, the Cowboys already locked up that same tiebreaker by dominating New York in Weeks 1 and 9. That meant another Giants loss was all it took to eliminate New York.
So the Giants’ playoff scenario was also easy to figure out. Win out and hope the Cowboys lose out. So long, playoffs.