NFC Wild Card Preview: Red-Hot Redskins Play Host to Packers

January 10, 2016 • Ben Heck • D.C., Features, Front Page, Green Bay Packers, NFC, NFC East, NFC North, NFL Playoffs, Predictions, Preview, Washington Redskins

The fourth and final Wild Card Playoff match-up between the No. 5 Green Bay Packers and No. 4 Washington Redskins is set for kick-off at 4:40 P.M. ET.

So far this weekend, all three road teams took victories home with them. But, despite Super Bowl championship quarterback Aaron Rodgers going up against a quarterback making his first career playoff start––Redskins Kirk Cousins––I’m not so sure the Packers will be able to knock off the red-hot Skins this afternoon.

The red-hot Skins began the season at 2-4, but went 6-2 in the second half of the season and are currently riding a four-game win streak into this afternoon’s match-up.

Washington’s offense, which has put up 30+ points in each of the last three games (and five times this season), ranks 10th in scoring and has produced 25.8 points per game at FedEx Field this season. Ever since Washington’s epic 24-point comeback against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7, quarterback Kirk Cousins is responsible for 27 total touchdowns (23 passing, four rushing) with just three interceptions.

Cousins, who has certainly done his job in earning a long-term contract as Washington’s quarterback of the future, will be going up against Green Bay’s sixth-ranked passing defense. Veterans Julius Peppers (10.5 sacks) and Clay Matthews (6.5) lead the way for a Green Bay pass-rush that has stacked up 43.0 sacks this season. Green Bay currently has three defensive backs (Micah Hyde, Damarious Randall and Sam Shields) with at least three picks, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has had a great 2015 campaign in his second pro season.

This season, Washington has played just two playoff teams, with losses to New England and Carolina, while the Packers have had a much tougher schedule (3-4 record against seven playoff teams). It’s always tough to pick against Aaron Rodgers, who has racked up a 7-5 postseason record with a Super Bowl championship in his illustrious career with Green Bay. But perhaps it’s time for Cousins to prove he can lead his team to the big victories?

Green Bay backed into the postseason with two straight losses, missing out on the NFC North title last Sunday night with a loss to Minnesota. And let’s not forget that this defense is in the bottom-half in turnovers forced, with 22 all season, and the Redskins have turned the ball over 22 times in 16 games. In the last six games, Washington has turned the ball over just three times, while GB’s defense has forced eight. Turnovers (or lack thereof) could easily become the difference in this game.

All-time Packers/Redskins series: 18-13-1 Packers (1-1 in postseason).

Last meeting: September 15, 2013 (Packers won, 38-20)

Prediction: I think I’ll stick with the hot hand in this one, picking the Redskins to pull off the home “upset” and hand Rodgers his sixth postseason loss. Skins win, 24-21.

Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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