Wild Card Preview: Green Bay at Washington

For the rest of the week we’ll be previewing the two NFC/NFC North Wild Card Games taking place on Sunday in Landover Maryland and Minneapolis Minnesota. The first game is the lesser of the two in terms of public anticipation with the five seed 10-6 Green Bay Packers against the fourth seeded 9-7 Washington Redskins. This game is a clear cut case of two teams going in opposite directions to end the season. The Packers closed 4-6 after starting the season 6-0 with their last two losses by a combined 37 points.¬†The Redskins on the other hand have been playing their best football towards the latter half of the season and are currently on a four game winning streak entering Sunday.

Kirk Cousins has been outstanding in his fourth season out of Michigan State. In particular since Week 7 Cousins leads the league in passer rating (119) and completion percentage (72.4). During the current four game winning streak Cousins has thrown just one interception to 12 touchdown passes, he’s also run for two scores. The Redskins have found some of their best offensive games at FedEx Field which is where they’ll be playing this Sunday. The Redskins are 6-2 at home this year with both of their losses coming by a combined 10 points.

The Redskins have found a lot of production in their passing game and in particular TE Jordan Reed who’s been Cousins’ biggest target all season. Reed’s a former third round pick out of Florida in 2013 that has posted career highs across the board with 87 receptions for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns which tied him for second in the NFL with Rob Gronkowski. The Redskins have found a nice balance of run and pass with two different backs combining for over 1200 yards rushing in Alfred Morris and another Gator in Rookie Matt Jones. DeSean Jackson has only played ten games this year but two weeks ago against the Bills at FedEx Field he had his biggest game of the season with 153 yards receiving and a score. Last week Jackson was held out of the game against the Cowboys so as to be fully healthy for the Wild Card Game which was already wrapped up after Washington beat the Eagles two Saturdays ago to clinch the NFC East. That night they secured their four seed and a home playoff game.

The defenses are where the game could be won for either side. The Redskins are 26th at stopping the run in terms of yards per game at 122.6 and RB Eddie Lacy could prove to be a difference maker if he has a big game. Lacy hasn’t gotten over 60 yards rushing since he had 124 yards against the Cowboys in Week 14. In the final three games of the season Lacy recorded 117 yards rushing total.

The Packers defense isn’t much better as they’re the 12th ranked scoring defense in the league as compared to Washington’s 17th. The biggest difference between the two teams is stopping the pass which a very important stat in football considering how much the rules are geared towards quarterbacks and the passing attacl. The Green Bay Packers are sixth in the NFL at 227.6 pass yards against compared to Washington who is 25th at 258 pass yards against.

Aaron Rodgers has had a bad season by his standards that’s for sure, but Washington hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record all season and the Green Bay Packers were facing a schedule that was of a team that went to the NFC Championship and won their division. Washington had a last place schedule this year and came from the second worse division in football. Washington has had a good season and has gotten hot at the right time to help get them to this point. The Redskins haven’t won a playoff game in ten years and have been a bad franchise for a long time. The Packers may have gotten their butts whipped in the last two games of the season, but in looking at the numbers there’s no reason to think that Green Bay can’t spread the ball around to Cobb, Adams, and Rodgers to eat up big chunks of yards on a bad defense.

If Washington is to come out victorious it’s because Kirk Cousins got Jordan Reed involved early in the game which opened up the big play down the sidelines for DeSean Jackson. If ¬†Jackson has a big game the Redskins will more than likely win. The Packers will be looking to stop Jackson first and foremost because of his big play ability. Rodgers has been sacked 13 times in his last two games and the Packer offensive line is brutal. Former Boilermaker Ryan Kerrigan and former Mississippi State LB Preston Smith will have to pressure Rodgers all day and not quit until the sixty minute mark. The Skins’ secondary isn’t very good either only having 11 interceptions on the year as a team. It’ll be a tall task for Washington but momentum could play a huge factor in this game. If Washington gets off to a good start the doubt could creep into the minds of Green Bay that it’s just not meant to be with the injuries they’ve been dealing with all season. If Green Bay has a good offense to start the game Rodgers could get into a rhythm and then it’ll be lights out for a porous Redskin defense.

The line has been moving all week with Green Bay currently a one point favorite. The line opened with Washington as a one point favorite.