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Redskins Ignoring The What-Ifs, Focused On Beating The Giants


The NFC playoff picture is a rather crazy one with seemingly endless combinations of teams and seeds, but the Redskins won't be a part of it if they don't win Sunday against the Giants.

Will the Giants play their starters? What if the Lions and the Packers tie? Who would the Redskins play if they made the playoffs?

Throughout the days leading up to Washington's win-or-go-home Week 17 matchup with theGiants, many of the topics being discussed surrounding the Redskins have been things that those in burgundy and gold can't control.

"Yeah, we've tried not to put a whole lot of time into worrying about what else happens," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "But right now it's all about the Giants."

The Giants, which sit at 10-5, have locked up the first NFC Wild Card spot – their position can't change. New York head coach Ben McAdoo was reluctant to say the word "entire," but he did say his starters will play.

"The whole… the starters are going to play," McAdoo said. "I don't know any other way to do it."

Then when asked how long the starters would play, McAdoo said, "They're going to play the game." When asked if his starters would play the entire game, McAdoo said, "The game, yes. The game."

"We're looking to build a physical, heavy-handed, tough road team," McAdoo finished.

Despite McAdoo's foggy vows, one would imagine that if the Sunday's game gets out of control either way, New York will be quick to pull key players like quarterback Eli Manning and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., or those who are already dealing with injury, such as No. 1 cornerback Janoris Jenkins. The Redskins say that hasn't affected their preparation.

"No, it doesn't matter – not one iota," Gruden said. "We have to get ready to play a very good Giant team. Whether their starters play or not is insignificant. I know that they have a very good football team and that's the important thing. Once they get off the plane and they get out here Sunday afternoon, they're going to play to win. That's the only way to play football. And I know Coach McAdoo will have them ready to play, and we have to be ready also."

As far the Lions and Packers, yes, a tie in their matchup would put both teams into playoffs ahead of Washington, even if the Redskins win Sunday. However, the Redskins can't even worry about that because Detroit and Green Bay won't be kicking off until Sunday night – after Washington finishes its game.

That hasn't stopped people from asking about it. 

"You know what? I'm going to be honest with you: I've been asked that question a 1,001 times," cornerback Josh Norman said laughing. "It's not even from you. My people at home, or my cousins, everybody hits me up – I don't care. It has nothing to do with me. The only thing that has to do with me is winning a ballgame."

"It's 99.99 percent guaranteed," safety Will Blackmon said. "I joked around with my wife about it yesterday, that'd be something else if we win and they get a tie. We joked around about it, but we're the first game, just control what we can control. Then sit and home and hope for someone to win."

Speaking of what the Redskins can't control, Washington could make the playoffs and play any one of four opponents: Detroit, Atlanta, Seattle or Green Bay. Each team has its respective appeals to Washington – Detroit and Seattle are slumping, Atlanta's defense is suspect and the Redskins already hammered the Packers – but, again, all of that won't matter if the Redskins can't beat the Giants.

Members of the Redskins would prefer to leave the "what if" talk to those paid to do it. However, avoiding those discussions – there are eight TVs in the Redskins locker room always tuned into sports programming – is much easier said than done.

"I usually turn on something pretty different," linebacker Mason Foster said of his plans when he gets home. "Maybe watch the bowl games, I love college football. Watch a couple bowl games, most times I'm just on my iPad with my little boy showing him plays and trying to explain it to him.

"He's all into tackling, so he loves tackling and he loves the 'Hail to the Redskins' song. He sings that and shows me how to tackle and shows me his linebacker stance."

Many Redskins pointed out that the team is focused each week. There's always a sense of urgency in a 16-game season, but the situation that has played out for Week 17 has certainly created a big stage. FOX flexed the game to 4:25 p.m. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman – the network's No. 1 crew – will be in Landover to call the game. The Redskins can make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in more than two decades.

It's hard to understate the importance of Sunday.

"Well, we have got to have great attention to detail, as always," Gruden said. "We have to prepare – it's the biggest game of the season, obviously, and we have got to play our best football. It's Week 17, we should be mentally sound. We should be physically in good shape and ready to roll. We have got a lot to play for, so it should be exciting for them."

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