With two games to go, here’s where Washington stands:
Washington faces the Carolina Panthers at 1 p.m., and a win makes the calculations very easy.
If Washington wins Sunday: The Eagles and Cowboys are eliminated from playoff contention.
The New York Giants must defeat the Baltimore Ravens (also at 1 p.m.) to stay alive.
A Washington win, combined with a Giants loss, means that Washington would clinch the division in Week 16, making the final week of the season meaningless for playoff purposes.
If Washington loses Sunday: A New York Giants win would put the Giants in first place, allowing them to control their destiny in Week 17 (Washington would need a win and a Giants loss to make the playoffs).
A Giants loss would crack open the door for the Philadelphia Eagles, who could defeat the Dallas Cowboys (4:25 p.m., Fox) to then control their destiny in Week 17.
Losses by Washington, the Giants and the Eagles would keep hope alive for the Dallas Cowboys, who would still need help in Week 17 (a win and a Washington loss).
Washington plays in Philadelphia, while Dallas plays at the New York Giants. Here are the potential game start time scenarios.
1 p.m. kickoff: If Washington clinches the division Sunday, both games are meaningless and would kick off at 1 p.m.
4:25 p.m. kickoff: If the Giants win this Sunday in Baltimore, both Week 17 games will have implications that depend on the other, and both are likely to kick off at 4:25 p.m.
Prime time: If Washington and the Giants both lose on Sunday, and there are no other, more compelling games, it is possible the Washington-Philadelphia game would be chosen for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” at 8:25.
In this scenario, where Washington and the Giants both lose, the specific stakes would depend on the other Week 16 game.
If the Eagles defeat the Cowboys in Week 16, the Washington-Philadelphia game would be winner-take-all for the playoff spot.
If the Cowboys defeat the Eagles in Week 16, then the Cowboys-Giants winner would temporarily hold first place, but would have to wait and see if Washington defeated Philadelphia to steal the spot from them.
It has been clinched that the winner of the NFC East will play the top wild card team.
If the playoffs started today, that team would be the Los Angeles Rams.
However, there are still four other teams capable of filling the spot.
In order of probability, they are: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Seattle Seahawks, the New Orleans Saints and the Arizona Cardinals.
The Rams and Cardinals face each other in a Week 17 game that is likely to have seeding implications.
The Buccaneers have the easiest finish, facing the Lions and Falcons.
The NFC East team would host the playoff game.