Commanders can still play key role in race for No. 7 seed

Lions, Commanders, NFL (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Lions, Commanders, NFL (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Washington Commanders are eliminated from NFL playoff contention, but they could still play a role in who ends up in the No. 7 seed.

The Washington Commanders’ lack of wins since late November, coupled with several other unfavorable results, has left them eliminated from playoff contention before the final week of the regular season for the second consecutive year.

But at 7-8-1, there is a small chance that the Commanders could still play a key role in who ends up securing the seventh and final seed in the NFC playoffs.

Three 8-8 teams are still alive for that spot: the Seattle Seahawks, the Detroit Lions, and the Green Bay Packers. Seattle currently owns the spot, having beaten Detroit head-to-head earlier in the season.

An NFC North division tiebreaker was used to eliminate Green Bay, with the Lions having beaten the Packers head-to-head earlier in the season.

Of the three, the Packers are the only team that controls their own destiny – even as the current No. 9 seed. If they beat the Lions, they will get the No. 7 seed, as they own the tiebreaker over the Seahawks if both finish 9-8.

The Seahawks can get in with a win over the Los Angeles Rams and a Packers loss, and the Lions can get in with a win and a Seahawks loss.

While the Seahawks can’t get in with a loss, they can get in if all three teams tie in Week 18. If all three teams finish at 8-8-1, the Seahawks would retain the tiebreaker for the same reasons listed above.

But there is an obscure way by which the Lions could actually get the tiebreaker if these three teams finish 8-8-1, and it involves the Commanders.

If the Commanders close out the regular season with a win over the Dallas Cowboys, they will move to 8-8-1. If there is a four-way tie at 8-8-1, the tiebreaker goes to the Lions.

The NFC North division tiebreaker would still be used to eliminate the Packers, as the Lions would be 1-0-1 against them during the season. This would set up a three-way tie between the Lions, Seahawks, and Commanders.

Of these three teams, the Lions would own the best conference record at 6-5-1. The Seahawks and the Commanders would both own NFC records of 5-6-1.

It’s highly unlikely that this situation will end up coming to fruition, given how rare ties are in the NFL, but suffice it to say that Washington’s Sunday afternoon game against Dallas may be about a little bit more than preventing the Cowboys from having a shot at a second consecutive NFC East crown.

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