Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis arrived at work bright and early Monday morning to some unexpected fanfare after serving a four-game suspension for testing positive for PEDs.He was greeted by smiling teammates Luke Kuechly and Mike Adams , who stood at the front door to the team's stadium holding it open for him. Coach Ron Rivera wore a new black t-shirt with a blue silhouette of Davis celebrating a big play that read "I'M BACK" during his news conference. Several other coaches and players strolled through the locker room wearing the t-shirt as well in support of Davis.Davis' return, combined with the possible return of tight end Greg Olsen from a broken foot this week and the team's dramatic 33-31 win Sunday over the New York Giants 鈥?Graham Gano booted a 63-yard field goal through the uprights with 1 second remaining allowing the Panthers to improve to 3-1 鈥?had the locker room abuzz on Monday."We got our leader back," Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson said of Davis, Carolina's all-time leading tackler.Rivera said as long as the 35-year-old Davis is in good football condition, he will start his 147th career regular season game this Sunday against the Washington Redskins.Davis told teammates he's been channeling his energy the past month into working out and getting in the best shape of his life 鈥?which naturally led to some good-natured banter in the locker room."Yeah, he swore he had a six-pack, (but) he has about a two-pack," joked cornerback Captain Munnerlyn.Munnerlyn said that Davis, who he views as his older brother, greeted him Monday by grabbing him tightly around the shoulders. He had to remind Davis he'd just played a football game on Sunday and was still sore."I know he has a lot of built-up aggression in him right now," Munnerlyn said with a laugh. "The Washington Redskins can get ready because I know that first week back when somebody touches the ball he's going to want to go full throttle."Rivera said he thought about giving the players a day off on what is known as "victory Monday," but decided against it because he didn't want Davis to have to wait until Wednesday to reunite with his teammates."If he could have, he would have been here at the stadium at 12:01 a.m. (when his suspension was lifted), but unfortunately he would have been here by himself," Rivera said.Along with welcoming him back, it was clear the Panthers were also trying to cheer Davis up. He announced on Twitter last week that his father had died."I think being around the guys will be a good getaway for him," Munnerlyn said.Davis posted a video on his Twitter in April acknowledging he tested positive for an estrogen blocker but said it was completely unintentional and "in no way would I ever do anything to cheat this game." The 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year award winner said he has been taking the same supplements for the last seven or eight years and never had any issues before.Davis didn't talk to reporters Monday, saying he'd prefer to wait until later in the week as is normally his routine.The Panthers have clearly missed Davis' energy and knack for making big plays. The Carolina defense squandered an 11-point fourth quarter lead on Sunday to Eli Manning and the Giants, only to get bailed out by Gano's field goal."We missed Thomas everywhere, on the practice field, in the locker room," Panthers defensive coordinator Eric Washington said. "When he's removed from the building you feel the impact, you feel the void. You don't replace Thomas Davis."Rivera called Davis a "special locker room guy."Olsen's potential return is good news for Carolina's offense.He led the team in yards receiving for three straight seasons from 2014-16, but has been plagued by a broken bone in his foot the past two seasons causing him to miss a combined 12 games. He re-broke his foot in the team's Sept. 9 season opener, but is expected to practice fully on Wednesday and could play against the Redskins."As long as (the doctors) are happy with how it is healing, a lot of it will be based on how I feel," Olsen said. "That's where we are right now. ... How I feel will guide what I can and can't do." The 5 o’clock club is published Wednesday to Saturday during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.Some key Redskins players on Injured ReserveOG Arie KouandjioRB Rob KelleyWR Robert DavisS Troy ApkeOG Shawn LauvaoRB Derrius GuiceWR Cam SimsWR Paul RichardsonWR Trey QuinnOG Brandon ScherffHere’s a couple of things I notice about this injury list: I don’t see any defensive players on it. The Redskins in 2018 are primarily a team led by its defense, and that unit is pretty much intact.I think the only player dealing with any significant injury on that side of the ball is Quinton Dunbar, and he not only played against Atlanta... he played well.Ths is not a Who’s Who of offensive NFL talent.Looking down the list, I see a couple of UDFAs, Mr. Irrelevant, and a handful of mid & late round draft picks.There are only a few names on the list that are likely to have a huge impact.Derrius Guice was lost for the season before the season began.He has already been capably replaced by future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson Washington Redskins T-Shirt , who has been the team’s most consistent offensive weapon.I’d rather have Guice healthy than injured, and I’m keen to see him in a Redskins uniform in a regular season game, but — at least for the moment — it feels like AD’s got this.Shawn Laovao was the starting LG, but he had already missed a couple of games with injury earlier, and the Redskins offensive line played pretty well without him, with Bergstrom at Center and Roullier at Guard.I don’t know why that combination wouldn’t work again.Paul Richardson was the team’s only big free agent signing of 2018, but it was probably always optimistic to expect him to stay healthy or be highly productive.So far this season, he has averaged about 3 catches and around 37 yards per game.Honestly, that production shouldn’t be hard to replace.Brandon Scherff is the huge loss here.Scherff is a talented, 2-time pro bowl right guard who was having perhaps the best season of his career prior to the injury.The Redskins were already thin at the position, and losing Laovao and Scherff in the same game leaves a gaping hole in the O-line.Compounding the dual injuries to Laovao and Scherff is the fact that Trent Williams just had surgery, and is expected to miss 2 to 3 more games.The Redskins are gonna have to field a patchwork offensive line for at least a couple of weeks, and the position group is likely to be a bit underpowered for the remainder of the season.Losing 2 or 3 starters by mid-season isn’t unusual for an NFL teamI realize how much this sucks — especially to have a rash of injuries hit the offensive line group, in particular, for the second season in a row — but the fact is, the Redskins have really lost two top tier players for the entire season (Guice and Scherff) and currently have one star player out for a month in Williams.As mentioned before, the running back injury is covered. The problem is — just — the offensive line.Yeah, I know... “just”.But, again, I’m not sure that Bergstrom-Roullier is really a downgrade from Laovao-Roullier.Tye Nsekhe has shown himself to be a pretty good short term solution whenTrent Williams has been gone, and he’s been gone a fair bit.Williams has played in just 10, 12, 14 and 15 games over the past 4 season.That’s thirteen missed games in the Jay Gruden era, and typically it was Nsekhe stepping up to the plate when Trent was missing.Nsekhe isn’t as good as TW, but then, probably nobody is —certainly no backup OT in the NFL — but Nsekhe is probably good enough to start for some NFL teams, and is probably as good as a team could hope for as a backup.If all goes to plan with Trent, he’ll only miss two to three more games.Nsekhe has pinch hit before for 3 to 6 games and acquitted himself pretty well.He’ll probably be just fine again.The big issueLosing Brandon Scherff for the season is, of course, the huge loss that truly hurts.He was probably playing the best of any Redskins lineman this season, and the team simply doesn’t have anyone to replace him with.The Redskins wasted no time this week signing 3 street free agents to try to create some instant depth.The fact is, losing Scherff will hurt an offense that was already struggling.But most teams in the NFL lose a key player to IR each season. Many teams lose two.The loss of Scherff could spell the end of the Redskins season, but it doesn’t have to.Chasing the division title and a playoff berthI can hear you now in your best Jim Mora voice: “Playoffs?... PLAYOFFS?!”Yes.Playoffs.The season is half over.The Redskins are 5-3 Washington Redskins Hats , and our NFC East rivals are, for the most part, struggling and facing a challenging remaining schedule.To reach the playoffs, all we really have to do is have one more win than the next-best team.So, what record do we need to get there?Let me caveat this by saying up front that I’m not pretending that I can predict wins and losses for the four division teams for the rest of the season.I just want to see what it would reasonably take to win the division, and make an assessment of whether it’s possible for the Redskins to get there with an intact defense and special teams, but without their pro-bowl right guard, and missing TW for three more games.The GiantsStick a fork in them, they’re done.At this point, the Giants are probably hoping to lose out.They need to be at the top of the draft to get a quarterback, and they know it.The key thing for Washington is that they get the win against the Giants at FedEx Field in Week 14.Frankly, if they can’t do that, they don’t deserve the playoffs anyway.The CowboysThe Cowboys are 3-5 after losing to the Titans in Dallas on a Monday Night after the bye week.That’s gotta hurt.Like the Redskins, the Cowboys play 4 division games in the final 8 weeks.I’m gonna say that they beat the Giants and the Redskins, but lose to the Eagles twice.Frankly, that’s all “worst case” stuff for the Redskins’ playoff hopes.If any of those 4 games goes the other way, it should actually help the Redskins win the division.That leaves the Falcons, Saints, Colts and Buccaneers.I’m saying that Dallas goes 2-2 in those games, losing to the Falcons & Saints, butbeating the Colts & Bucs.That means that I see Dallas going 4-4 down the stretch, finishing at 7-9.Even if the Cowboys go 6-2 (don’t see them beating the Saints or sweeping Philly) then the best they can achieve is 9-7.The EaglesPhilly has only played one division game so far, beating the Giants in Week 6, so five of their remaining eight games are inside the division.I’m predicting that they go 4-1 in those remaining division games, losing only to the Redskins at FedEx Field in Week 17.If the Redskins can’t win that Week 17 game, they don’t deserve the playoffs.If the Cowboys can steal a win against Philly, that only helps the Redskins’ playoff chances.The key to Philly’s best possible record, then, is the three remaining non-division games, which come against the Saints, Rams and Texans.I predict a 1-2 record in those games, with the Eagles losing on the road in New Orleans and Los Angeles.So, overall Washington Redskins Hoodie , I see the Eagles finishing strong, with 5 wins and 3 losses, to finish 9-7.I think they could lose a game to Dallas to drop to 8-8.What does this mean for the Redskins?Looking at the remaining schedule, it looks like the Eagles will finish 9-7 with a Redskins victory in Week 17, and maybe 8-8 if they split with the Cowboys.The schedule for the Cowboys seems to point to a 7-9 overall record, with upside to 9-7 if they can win one against the Eagles plus another non-division game.That makes a pretty clear target for the Redskins.To finish at the top of the division and earn a play off berth, the Redskins probably need 10 wins.That means they need to finish 5-3 for a clear division win, but even 4-4 might be enough.Is that possible?I think it is.First of all, if the Redskins can’t split the remaining 4 division games to go at least 2-2, then they don’t deserve the playoffs.That means that they need to go 3-1 against the four remaining non-division opponents: Tampa Bay, Houston, Jacksonville and Tennessee.It’s not a slam dunk, but I think it’s possible.The team really needs to get a win this week in Florida.The Buccaneers are probably the weakest non-division opponent left on the schedule.Again, if Washington can’t win in Week 10, they probably don’t deserve to be in the playoffs.I’m thinking that the Week 11 game at home versus Houston is a loss.Houston is playing well, the Redskins still won’t have Trent Williams, and the Redskins just don’t seem to play as well at FedEx as they do on the road.I’m predicting back-to-back nationally televised/prime time division losses to Dallas on Thanksgiving and Philly on MNF to extend the Redskins losing streak to 3 games, and put them 6-6 on the season, a game behind Philly following the Monday Night road loss.That means the Redskins need to win out the final four games versus Giants, Jags, Texans, Eagles, and I think they do it.They’ll have Trent Williams back by then, plus one two players returning from IR.They will be in December with a strong defense and Adrian Peterson, and by that time, the ‘Skins offensive line should be back to an ‘average’ level, which should allow them to compete and win against decent teams like the Titans and Jags.In this scenario, Weeks 15, 16 & 17 become critically important.So, here’smy roadmap to the playoffs.It’s not so much an effort to predict the outcome of nineteen NFL games as it is an effort a look at whether the Redskins have a chance to reach the playoffs, or whether — in the light of this weekend’s injuries — they should just call it quits now. 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