Redskins To Battle Cowboys For NFC East Title

6:57 PM, Dec 24, 2012   |    comments
  • Robert Griffin III and Tony Romo after their Thanksgiving Day matchup. (USA Today)
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(WUSA) -- With the Redskins win over the Eagles, many fans are thinking that the NFC East title is just about theirs. Well, that's true, sort of.

The Redskins do control their own destiny. Simply put, win and they're in. Where there is confusion is what happens if the Redskins lose at home to the Cowboys. Some fans think that since the Giants lost, the Redskins should have clinched the NFC East today.

In the words of Lee Corso, "Not so fast my friend."

Here are the scenarios for who wins the NFC East.

Redskins (9-6)
Remaining games: vs. Dallas (8-7)

For the Redskins, it's real simple. Win and you're in. They would have a better record than everybody in the NFC East.

Cowboys (8-7)

Remaining games: @ Washington (9-6)

Dallas just needs to beat Washington. If the Giants beat the Eagles here's how the division would end up: 1. Dallas (9-7), 2. Washington (9-7), 3. New York Giants (9-7). So, how does the NFL come to that conclusion? 

Here's the NFL's rules for a 3-team tiebreaker inside a division:
(Note: If the Giants lose, the same rules apply to the 2-team tiebreaker.)

  1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games among the clubs).
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
  5. Strength of victory.
  6. Strength of schedule.
  7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
  8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
  9. Best net points in common games.
  10. Best net points in all games.
  11. Best net touchdowns in all games.
  12. Coin toss

So, based on those rules, here's how the tiebreaker would play out.

  1. Redskins, Cowboys, and Giants all went 2-2 against each other. No teams eliminated
  2. Redskins and Cowboys went 4-2 in NFC East, Giants go 3-3 in division. NY Giants eliminated (no teams eliminated in 2-team tiebreaker scenario if Giants lose)
  3. Redskins went 7-5 against Saints (Win), Bengals (Loss), Buccaneers (Win), Falcons (Loss), Giants (Loss, Win), Steelers (Loss), Panthers (Loss), Eagles (Win, Win), Ravens (Win), and Browns (Win).

    Cowboys went 8-4 against those same teams: Saints (Loss), Bengals (Win), Buccaneers (Win), Falcons (Loss), Giants (Win, Loss), Steelers (Win), Panthers (Win), Eagles (Win, Win), Ravens (Loss), and Browns (Win). Redskins eliminated, Cowboys win NFC East.

The three losses that hurt the Redskins the most in this scenario: The Panthers game (they're 6-9), the Steelers game (all those dropped passes and RGIII ran for just 8 yards... the Skins rushed for just 86 yards as a team), and the Bengals game (home debut for RGIII).

Conversely, look what the Cowboys did against those three opponents: Panthers (Dan Bailey hits two field goals in last four minutes, Cowboys win by five), Steelers (Cowboys tie game up with 6:55 left in regulation, win in OT on a Dan Bailey field goal), Bengals (Cowboys rally from 19-10 deficit in the fourth quarter to win on a Dan Bailey field goal at the end of the game.)

Sure the Redskins could still make the playoffs as a wild card. But the easiest, and most ideal, path to the playoffs is to win the division and get a home playoff game. Considering that Mike Shanahan worked for Al Davis once upon a time, I wouldn't be surprised if he tells the team on Sunday before the game to "Just win, baby."

Note: To everybody citing the Redskins superior conference record, that's the fourth tiebreaker. If the Redskins and Cowboys had identical records versus common opponents, conference record would apply. In this case, it does not. Also, if the Redskins and Cowboys were battling for a wild card spot, and were in different divisions, conference record is the second tiebreaker after head-to-head record. Because of the NFL's scheduling structure, divisional rivals play very similar schedules with the exception of a couple games. So comparing records versus common opponents carries more weight than conference record.

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