January 9, 2016

Playoff Preview: Redskins Host Packers in 2016 Wild Card

The Packers finished the regular season on a rather low note, losing its final two games versus Minnesota and Arizona. Give two reasons, if any exist, why Packers fans can be hopeful entering the postseason.

Shane: First, the Packers have shown the ability to make big plays on defense at times and you'd like to think they're fired up for this one. The defensive line can overwhelm teams and the secondary is aggressive, fast and athletic. Second, both Eddie Lacy and James Starks have playoff experience and the ability to carry our offense, if given the chance.

Mitch: One huge matchup is going to be the Packers receiving corps versus the Washington secondary. Washington's secondary is suspect at best and they will challenge our receivers to beat man to man coverage. This is what teams have been doing since the Denver game. Can our receivers step up and make big plays and get open down the stretch? I sure hope so. A second matchup is going to be the Packers front line versus the running game of Washington. The Redskins have nothing special in Alfred Morris, or whoever is carrying the ball, but stopping the run will help prevent deep play action passes. You stop the run, you limit the explosiveness of the Washington offense.

The Redskins finish the regular season with the 28th overall defense (26 versus the run, 25 versus the pass). The Packers struggled immensely down the stretch offensively, ranking 25th in the NFL in total offense since week 11. Something has to give. What are two key matchups that could end up deciding the game in D.C. this weekend?

Shane: Randall Cobb needs to pick up where he left off last week against Minnesota and stretch the field both vertically and horizontally. No one on the Redskins defense can match up with him and he will have opportunities to make plays. We also need a healthy dose of Eddie Lacy, pounding and wearing out the Redskins defense, to open up throwing lanes for Aaron Rodgers. Balance, balance, balance is what I've been saying all year and Green Bay needs it this week to win.

Mitch: As I eluded to in the previous question, stopping the run is a must. Also, getting pressure on Kirk Cousins will be a major factor in deciding whether or not Cousins will continue streaking. The Packers have struggled at times to bring the heat, so I expect Capers to bring pressure early and often.

Kirk Cousins is among the hottest QBs in the NFL right now. Since the "you like that" game, Cousins has torched defenses, compiling 23 TDs and just 3 INTs. Washington has explosive ability on the outside with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. Green Bay might be without cornerback Sam Shields for a fourth consecutive week. What must Dom Capers and the Packers defense do to give this team a chance to advance to the divisional round?


Shane: I expect Dom Capers to blitz Cousins early and often to make him uncomfortable in the pocket.Washington is a one-dimensional offense, with their run game among the worst in the NFL, so Capers knows they will lean heavily on Cousins' arm. The Packers should be able to stop the run with their front seven and force third and long situations, allowing Capers to dial up some pressures that will force mistakes from Cousins.

Mitch:

The Packers found life offensively in the fourth quarter of Sunday's NFC North title game. Rodgers and the offense seemed to play with a "nothing to lose" mentality, airing it out and making plays down the field. Should we see more of this style of football or do the Packers stay committed to the run and try and grind out a win?

Shane: McCarthy needs to be careful not to lean so heavily on the passing game, because the WRs have shown time and time again, they simply can't get separation. Being behind by multiple scores forced the Packers to "air it out" against Minnesota, but let's hope that's not the case Sunday. The Packers need to stay committed to the run early, get Eddie Lacy going and I guarantee the rest will fall into place. This passing attack is not elite right now, so the more Green Bay can pound the ball, the better off they'll be.

Mitch: I think Washington's defense is susceptible to play action passing, so for that reason, I believe we must establish the run early and take some shots. Receivers will to have to get open and hopefully being able to run the ball and go to play action will help that.

Game prediction and Player of the Game & Wildcard Weekend game predictions:

Shane: I don't have a great feeling about this game, but I think the Packers find a way to get it done, by forcing two turnovers and getting a special teams TD from Micah Hyde or Jeff Janis. 24-20 Packers. Eddie Lacy is the player of the game, with 110 yards and a TD.

  • PIT @ CIN: Should be a battle and very close game. Pittsburgh's defense is horrible, but it's hard to bet against Big Ben and Antonio Brown. Steelers win in OT and hand Bengals their 8th straight one-and-done playoff exit, 27-24.
  • KC @ HOU: KC is just too hot right now. They don't turn it over, they run the ball well and Alex Smith is NOT just a game manager, he's a play maker. KC wins easily 21-7.
  • SEA@ MIN: Not a ton has changed since Seattle trounced Minnesota a few weeks ago in their own house - beyond that Russell Wilson is the hottest QB in the NFL. Still, I think Minnesota comes to play and keeps it close for three quarters, but ultimately Seahawks advance, 31-20. 


Mitch: 
Green Bay 27
Washington 23
POG: James Jones 6 rec 94 yds 2 TDs

PIT @ CIN: Pittsburgh 30-17
KC@ HOU: Kansas City 21-16
SEA@ MIN: Seattle 27-10


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