Bears, Redskins still in contention for playoffs



By Howard Fendrich

LANDOVER, Md. – A season removed from the Super Bowl, the Chicago Bears are mastering the art of inconsistency.

Their results so far? They opened this way: loss, win, loss. Then, after a second consecutive loss in Week 4, the Bears have put together this string over the past eight games: win, loss, win, loss, win, loss, win, loss.

The Washington Redskins, meanwhile, have been far more consistent of late: loss, loss, loss, loss.

It’s a testament to the parity – or, frankly, the mediocrity – of the NFC that both of these struggling teams consider themselves part of the playoff race going into their head-to-head meeting Thursday night.

“We need to get this one. We know it’s important for them, too. Both teams are going to be tired from Sunday’s game, so the team that wants it the most is going to get it,” Washington defensive end Phillip Daniels said. “We know our back’s against the wall, just like theirs.”

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    At least the Bears and Redskins also seem to appreciate why they haven’t been eliminated from contention yet. As Washington center Casey Rabach put it: “Thank God, the rest of the league has kind of been helping us along here.”

    That’s for sure.

    Amazingly, even at 5-7, Chicago and Washington are only one game behind the three teams tied for the conference’s final playoff berth: Arizona, Detroit and Minnesota.

    So that means there’s still a chance of playing into January, no matter how slight. And that, in turn, means players on both teams are talking about Thursday’s contest as “an elimination game.”

    “It’s all-or-nothing,” Redskins fullback Mike Sellers said. “I need vacation money; the playoffs are the extra money you depend on. And I’m trying to get that ring just like everybody else.”

    Uh, sure, Mike. Tight as the turnaround from Sunday is for this game, Sellers and the rest of the Redskins sounded pleased to be thinking and talking about football.