Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan's status in Washington is unclear following… (Mark Gail / McClatchy-Tribune )
The question swirling around the Washington Redskins has shifted.
It is no longer, will Mike Shanahan be the coach next season? It's will he survive the week?
A day after an embarrassing 45-10 loss to Kansas City, and the smallest announced crowd in the 16-year history of FedEx Field, Shanahan tried Monday to stay on the topic of his 3-10 team's upcoming game at Atlanta. Instead, he was asked about an ESPN report that he was ready to quit after last season, and even cleaned out his office before the Redskins played host to Seattle in a playoff game.
"I'm not going to speculate through all those different things" he told reporters. "If you'd like to talk about Atlanta, I'll be more than happy to talk about Atlanta."
The Washington Post reported Monday that the Redskins are sorting through their options, among them firing Shanahan for cause and attempting to withhold the $7 million owed him for the final year of his contract under the premise that he leaked the wanting-to-quit report to ESPN.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder and General Manager Bruce Allen have yet to comment publicly about the situation.
Shanahan also left it an open question as to whether quarterback Robert Griffin III will start Sunday, explaining he's concerned about keeping him healthy for next season in light of Griffin's being sacked 24 times in the last five games, including six times by the Chiefs.
"If he did play, and something did happen to him, I think it would set our franchise back," the coach said. "That's not to say I'm not going that way…"
Shanahan said he plans to make a decision Wednesday about whether to start Griffin or backup Kirk Cousins.
With three weeks of games remaining in the regular season, three teams have qualified for the 12 playoff spots, although their seeding can change. Seattle, Denver and Indianapolis are in. The Seahawks and Broncos are on track for the top seedings in their respective conferences, and the Colts have clinched the AFC South, even though they lost Sunday.
The sixth seed in the AFC figures to be among the more hotly contested spots, and Baltimore has the tiebreaker over Miami for that berth, with both teams at 7-6.
Baltimore plays at Detroit on Monday night, and the Lions are looking to bounce back after losing in a blizzard at Philadelphia. The Ravens have won three consecutive games, but all of those were at home. They are 1-5 on the road.
Miami is at home Sunday for an AFC East showdown with New England. The Patriots put Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski on injured reserve Monday because of torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee.
The Dolphins and Patriots played in October, with New England winning, 27-17, after falling behind by two touchdowns at the half, then scoring 24 unanswered points.
At 6-7, San Diego is behind Baltimore and Miami for that final AFC wild-card spot, but the Chargers still have a flicker of hope after beating the New York Giants, 37-14.
"If you said we were going to be one game out of a playoff berth with three games to play, it wouldn't be ideal, but I think we would sign up for that," San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers said after the game Sunday.
Standing in San Diego's path is a significant hurdle. The Chargers play at Denver on Thursday, and the forecast calls for a temperature in the low 20s at kickoff.
A couple of factors weigh in the Chargers' favor. Although Peyton Manning can light up the scoreboard, Denver's defense is giving up a lot of points: 34, 28 and 28 in the last three games. And the Broncos could be without All-Pro receiver Wes Welker, who suffered a concussion Sunday and has yet to be cleared for Thursday's game.