The first round of the NFL playoffs features four games, the last of which being the showdown between the Green Bay Packers and the Washington Redskins to take place at Washington’s FedEx Field in Landover, MD (4.40pm ET, Sunday live on FOX).
Despite finishing the year 9-7, a record shared with the Houston Texans as the worst in the playoffs, the Redskins finished the regular season as winners of the NFC East. As division winners, Washington earned itself a first round home game, something that is worth note given the team’s road record this year (3-5) vs its home record (6-2).
In a year where none of the NFC East teams seemingly wanted to win the division, Washington opened the season with a 3-5 record, losing to then undefeated teams, the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots. Following the New England loss however, Washington began to turn things around and were the only NFC East team to play to a consistent, post .500 record in its remaining games. Washington would go 6-3 in those last nine, including wins over all three of their divisional rivals. Again, one of their losses came against the then-undefeated Carolina Panthers.
The Packers meanwhile, who haven’t faced the Redskins since defeating them in week two in the 2013 NFL season, opened the year in typical Green Bay style. They reeled off their first six with an undefeated record only to have their bye and lose all steam. Green Bay dropped three in a row post-bye and had a losing record of 4-6 overall.
Unlike the Redskins, who are currently riding a four game winning streak, the Packers have lost each of their last two, including the season finale against the Minnesota Vikings, who at 11-5, finished the season as winners of the NFC North, marking the first time the Packers didn’t win the division since 2010 and only the sixth such time since 2002.
QB Battle Might Favor (WAS) Kirk Cousins over (GB) Aaron Rodgers
If you were to ask anyone who they’d rather have at quarterback between Aaron Rodgers, the multi-time MVP, or the first year starter Kirk Cousins (pictured), people would surely answer Rodgers. However, if you were to ask that question with a caveat being, who would you want this year, that answer might not be as black and white.
Facing a roster of injured receivers, most notably Jordy Nelson, who was injured in the preseason, Rodgers had what can only be described as a mediocre season. A 32-year-old in his 11th season in the league, Rodgers had his lowest completion percentage and lowest 16-game yard total. His 31 touchdowns were his lowest in a 16-game season since 2009 and his eight interceptions were the most he has thrown in a single season since 2012.
Without Nelson and with an offensive line and pass protection that has been suspect at best, Rodgers led the NFL’s 23rd ranked total offense and 25th ranked passing offense.
Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins, who has been a breath of fresh air for the Redskins, led the NFL’s 17th ranked overall offense, 11th when it came strictly to the passing game. Additionally, the 27-year-old signal caller in his fourth year in the league, finished with top 10 marks in the NFL in QB rating (5th, 101.6), passing yards (10th, 4,166) and completion percentage (1st, 69.8).
Cousins has been hot as of late too, finishing the season with two 300 yard and 153+ QB rating games in his last three and accumulating 11 of his 29 total touchdowns while throwing exactly zero interceptions. With WR Desean Jackson (30 receptions, 528 yards) and TE Jordan Reed (87 receptions, 952 yards, 11 TD), emerging as strong weapons and options in the passing game, Cousins has been handed all of the pieces he has needed to succeed as an NFL QB.
But the question still remains as if a hot Cousins, who has zero playoff experience, is any sort of head-to-head match for Rodgers, who has made 11 postseason starts and collected close to 3,000 yards since 2009. Offensive line struggles or not, that Rodgers, the one who won last year’s MVP, is in there somewhere.
Redskins: A By-Product of their Division of a Playoff Contender?
The Redskins were indeed division winners but they did so in a season where they were the only .500 team in the NFC East. In fact, the Redskins played six of their games, recording four wins, against teams with a combined record of 17-31. That said, it’s very much a fair question to wonder how good the Redskins actually are.
Cousins’ career season aside, Washington is a below average team defensively. They ranked 28th in total yards allowed on defense, 25th in passing yards allowed per game, 26th in rushing yards allowed per game and 17th in total points allowed.
Offensively, Washington ranked just 20th in total rush yards but did manage to crack the top 10 in total points and points per game.
Our Preview’s Green Bay Packers vs Washington Redskins Picks Predictions
The Redskins four game winning streak will be up against the Packers playoff experience as the two teams face off for a spot in the NFC’s divisional round of the playoffs next week. Right now, the Packers enter as one point road underdogs on the sportbooks’ spread.
There are a lot of reasons to be confident in Green Bay’s chances especially given their playoff track record. The team has won eight games in their recent five years in the playoffs while the Redskins haven’t even been to the playoffs in that span. For that reason and the fact that Rodgers is still capable of putting together an incredible game, our betting prediction is for a Packers’ victory and that is our pick:
- Wager on Green Bay +1pt @ best odds of -105 with BetOnline Sportsbook. It is -110 for the same spread with 5Dimes, while at the time of writing Bovada are -1pt @ -105, which is so out of line with the other sportsbooks that either it is a mistake or they agree strongly with our viewpoint.
- The total game points stands at 45 and as neither team is a defensive juggernaut we are going over that 45 points @ best betting odds of -110 with BetOnline or 5Dimes.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.