NFL Playoff Simulator – Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins LogoWashington Redskins

by Brian Umbaugh, @NFLRosters


It’s that time of year; 13 weeks are in the books, and the hard core fans are starting to mull over the playoff possibilities. For the Washington Redskins, even a 5-7 record can’t stop this team from visions of the playoffs.  They are in 1st place, after all, courtesy of a head-to-head tiebreaker with Philadelphia and a division record tiebreaker with the Giants.  Regardless, it’s hard to know what to think about this squad; they lose when they shouldn’t (last night vs. Dallas) and win they shouldn’t (Week 12 vs. NYG).  They blow out opponents and then get blown out.  With 4 games to go, the challenge is maintaining that lead (or maybe winning more than they lose), with the best case scenario being a home playoff game as the #4 seed. As the fourth team in our series of playoff simulators, using the NY Times Playoff Simulation model, let’s check out the last 4 games individually and how these games affect the Redskins’ playoff chances.

As the situation currently stands (after Week 13), the Redskins have a 23% chance of winning the division, and they will most likely have to win the division to make the playoffs.  This is a crazy low percentage for a division leader, but since this team is arguably not as powerful as the Eagles and Cowboys may be (and still has to face those teams on the road), it is likely they will not finish in 1st place.  Let’s withhold that judgment until we check out the rest of the season using the NY Times Playoff Simulation Engine.

Rest of Season Odds

Remaining schedule: at Chicago, Buffalo, at Philadelphia, at Dallas

As the Redskins are currently in 1st place, winning all four games and finishing 9-7 would allow them to maintain that position and claim the #4 seed.

If the ‘Skins were to lose one game, they would still have a 96% chance of winning the division if they beat Philly and Dallas.  Winning three but losing to Dallas leaves a 79% playoff chance; losing only to Philly, however, would reduce their playoff chances to 60%.  It’s becoming fairly clear that the matchup at Philadelphia in Week 16 is the make-or-break matchup for Washington.

It is certainly possible for the Redskins to only win 2 of their 4 remaining games and still make the playoffs, but Philadelphia has to be one of those wins.  Beating Philadelphia and Chicago/Buffalo would create a 42-46% of winning the divison with a record of 7-9, and beating both Philly and Dallas would give them a 67% chance of winning the division.  A 4-2 division record would erase the Cowboys and Eagles, leaving only the Giants standing in the way.  However, any combination of 2 wins involving Chicago, Buffalo, and Dallas (with a loss to Philadelphia) would lead to a 87-96% chance of missing the playoffs.

Can the Redskins actually get in while only winning one game?  It’s possible, if Washington was to only beat Philadelphia…there is a 6% chance the rest of the NFC East implodes and the Redskins would win the division at 6-10, never before accomplished.

Of course, there’s no chance of making the playoffs if Washington loses all their games and finishes 5-11.


The Redskins are currently leading the NFC East and, if the season ended today, they would host a wild card game as the #4 seed. Washington currently ranks #24 in the USA Today Sagarin Ratings, and each remaining opponent is rated higher, including 4-8 Dallas.  Sagarin would predict they lose each of their last four, but by small margins.  I think they pull out two wins, but not Philly, which they would sorely need to make the playoffs. Prediction: 7-9, 2nd place NFC East, missing playoffs