When the Redskins were 3-6, I estimated they had a 1% chance of reaching the postseason. After an improbably 4-game winning streak, their odds have improved considerably -- my latest estimate gives them a 46% chance of making the playoffs. But, there's that monkey wrench of the knee injury to Robert Griffin III.
Based on the information available to-date, and using the team strength measures at Advanced NFL Stats, I give Washington the following chances of winning each of their remaining games:
@Cleveland -- 51%
@Philadelphia -- 55%
Dallas -- 64%
Assuming those probabilities are reasonably accurate, the Skins have approximately an 18% chance of winning all three and virtually guaranteeing themselves a spot in the playoffs. A couple huge "buts" though -- first, another way of stating those odds is that Washington has an 82% chance of losing at least one of their remaining games. And, second, these probabilities assume a healthy Griffin.
The Redskins will need some help to make the playoffs. They currently sit 7th in the NFC, and none of the six teams ahead of them are on the schedule. The potential scenarios are dizzying. Here's the simplified version:
Washington wins out and either the Bears or Giants lose at least one. If the Giants lose while the Skins win their last three, the Redskins would take the NFC East and get a home playoff game.
Redskins, Giants and Bears all win out. Skins would still reach the playoffs with a loss by Seattle against San Francisco or St. Louis. Seattle's loss must come against one of those two teams -- losing to the Bills wouldn't help the Skins.
Washington loses to Cleveland, but beats Philly and Dallas. The Skins would be 9-7, but could make the playoffs by winning the NFC East IF the Giants lose twice in the last three weeks. Washington could also squeak in if Chicago loses two, or if Seattle loses both of its last two games.
Washington could get in with an 8-8 record if that one last win comes against Dallas, the Giants lose out, and the Cowboys finish 8-8. The Skins would win the NFC East in the scenario in a three-way tie-breaker. There's a preposterously improbable way they could be an 8-8 wildcard team. They would have to beat Dallas, and would need Chicago, Seattle, Dallas and Minnesota ALL to finish 8-8.
The real question, of course, is what Griffin will be able to do. Everything I've seen thus far indicates to me that he's going to play this weekend. But will he have full mobility? Will the Skins be able to run their full offensive package? Will the knee affect his throwing?
These are purely wait and see. There's no way of knowing until he gets on the field. Based on what I've seen of Griffin so far, I'd expect him to be excellent. Let's keep in mind that while his running is a dangerous weapon, he's also tied with Tom Brady for the league lead in Quarterback Rating -- which is based solely on passing numbers.
The Skins aren't there yet, but they've made themselves relevant in the playoff chase after being on the 3-6 life support. I wouldn't bet against Griffin.