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Week 13 playoff glance: Redskins have a path, but it’s rocky

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The Washington Redskins have a 44 percent chance of making the playoffs despite a 5-2 start. (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post) By Kareem Copeland Kareem Copeland Reporter covering the Washington Redskins Email Bio Follow November 27 at 10:03 AM Just a month ago, the Redskins were off to an unexpected 5-2 start and sat atop the NFC East after back-to-back wins against the rival Cowboys and Giants. No one knew that trip back from New York may have been as good as it got for the 2018 season.

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The team has lost three of four since, and injuries have claimed quarterback Alex Smith and starting guards Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao.

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During a radio interview, safety D.J. Swearinger equated the final stretch to a five-game playoff, and each loss moving forward does significant damage to foundation built with the fast start.

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The Redskins still control their own destiny and have a 44-percent chance to make the playoffs and 28-percent chance to win the division, according to The Post’s Neil Greenberg .

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“We understand that the last five games . . . these teams all have good players,” Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said, “and it’s going to come down to who can make the plays in critical situations, who can protect the ball and who can get the ball out. . . . We have to protect the ball and play better situational football.”

[ Redskins see opportunity in NFC’s parity. But they’ve got a lot of things to fix first. ]

If the season ended today …

Washington and Dallas are tied atop the division with 6-5 records, and Philadelphia is right behind at 5-6. The Redskins and Cowboys split their season series, with each winning at home. The Eagles have two games remaining against Washington.

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The first-round byes in the NFC would go to the Saints (10-1) as the South Division champion and the Rams out of the West, with the Saints holding the tiebreaker for the top seed

The Bears (8-3) would win the NFC North and host the Redskins, who would claim the final wild card. The Cowboys would win the East by virtue of a tiebreaker and host the fifth-seeded Vikings

The Redskins currently hold the tiebreaker for the final wild care over the Seahawks (6-5) and Panthers (6-5)

This week’s matchup

The Redskins had a chance to hold onto sole possession of first place in the division last week, but lost 31-23 to the Cowboys. Now they’re trying to hold off the Eagles. The Cowboys have a tough challenge in the Saints on Thursday and a loss, plus an Eagles victory, would put the three teams in a tie at 6-6

A Redskins win and a Cowboys loss would put them atop the NFC East all alone and vice versa

[ Redskins make adjustments on offense as Colt McCoy gets a full week to prepare ]

Other matchups to watch

The Redskins have the easiest remaining schedule from a standings standpoint as their opponents have a 21-34 record, but they must face the Eagles twice and three of their next four are also on the road

Cowboys opponents have a 28-27 record, but it’s top-heavy with the Saints (10-1) balancing out the Buccaneers (4-7) and Giants (3-8). Redskins fans should be rooting for the Saints on Thursday

The Eagles have the steepest climb with all five games against teams currently leading their divisions, including the Redskins twice and the Cowboys. Those two plus the Rams and Texans (7-3) add up to a 36-19 record

The Seahawks, Panthers and Eagles are currently on the outside looking in on the wild-card race, but have plenty of opportunities to make moves down the stretch. The 49ers travel to Seattle this week as underdogs, and the Panthers have a winnable road game in Tampa Bay

“The urgency is definitely cranked up,” Redskins tackle Trent Williams said

More Redskins:

Redskins can cure many woes with ‘bonus day’ of practice, Jay Gruden says

Trent Williams is back at Redskins practice after hospital scare

Cowboys and Eagles garner buzz, but Redskins are still in the thick of NFC East race