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Need to Know: Redskins step into spoiler role

Dec 22, 2013, 5:57 AM EST

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Fletcher-Miles-Austin

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 22, the day the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.

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When you have nothing to play for, you find something to play for.

Although a Redskins win won’t help them in any way involving the NFL standings—they have locked up last place in the NFC East—they nevertheless have to play the game so they might as well find a reason to win it. Here are a five of them:

1. They can do severe damage to the Cowboys’ chances of making the playoffs. A Redskins win would set up a scenario where the Eagles would clinch the division with a Sunday night win over the Bears. If you can’t impact your own playoff chances, the next best thing would be to damage those of a division rival.

2. If there is anybody for whom the players would like to “win one” it’s London Fletcher. He is universally admired and respected by the team and a win in his last game at FedEx Field would be the perfect going away present.

3. It may be that Daniel Snyder has already made up his mind and Mike Shanahan is out no matter what happens in these last two games. But if the owner is still teetering, a win could bolster his chances of staying. It seems that the players all want Shanahan to stay—Fletcher and DeAngelo Hall both gave him endorsements this week—and a win just might help Shanahan get another year.

4. If they aren’t playing for Shanahan’s job perhaps they are playing for their own jobs. There are only a handful of players on the roster who aren’t unrestricted free agents or who wouldn’t be able to be released with more than minimal impact on the salary cap. In short, much of the team is working on a two-game contract. If that’s not incentive to play well, nothing is.

5. Finally how about winning one for the fans at FedEx Field? The Shanahan era has brought many more home losses than wins. They are 11-20 at home since 2010 and 2-5 this season. And since there is always a strong presence of fans dressed up in blue and silver when the Cowboys come to town the Redskins may need to stay out in front to avoid this sounding like a road game.

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