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NFC Wild Card Preview and Prediction: Green Bay Packers vs. Washington Redskins

Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins

The final game of the NFL's Wild Card Weekend resides in Washington, D.C., where the Redskins host the Packers. In a weird twist, Washington fans were rooting for a matchup against Green Bay considering how the Packers limped to the finish line. Imagine what would have happened if Aaron Rodgers didn't complete that Hail Mary against the Lions in Detroit just a few weeks ago? Well it did happen and now Green Bay gets a crack at the smoking hot Redskins and Kirk Cousins. There is a bit of postseason history between these two teams with their last meeting coming in 1972 when the Skins took a 16-3 contest.

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NFC Wild Card: Green Bay at Washington

Kickoff: 4:40 p.m. ET (Sunday)


Spread: Packers -1

Three Things to Watch

1. You Like That?!

One could argue that Kirk Cousins is the hottest quarterback in the league right now. Cousins has thrown for more than 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions. Just two of those picks have come at home, where his QB rating is 117.0. Over the past two months he has completed better than 70 percent of his passes with 13 TDs and just one interception. Almost any number you look at involving the former Michigan State Spartan represents something positive. Cornerback Sam Shields has been out for the Packers as he continues to deal with an injury. On paper, the numbers look good for Green Bay, who has held nine straight opponents to fewer than 300 yards through the air. But with tight end Jordan Reed and wide receiver DeSean Jackson both healthy for Washington, that streak will be under fire. Reed's potential has finally been reached and it's no coincidence that it's because he's healthy and actually playing without injury. The same could be said for Jackson, who has dealt with nicks and bruises, but played through them to be the burner that the Eagles sorely needed, but let go.

2. Discount Double Check

Oh yeah, there's a pretty good quarterback on the other side too. Aaron Rodgers has thrown for nearly 33,000 yards in his career yet he's struggling mightily this season. Rodgers has thrown an interception in three straight and five of his last six games overall. That's coming after he had just three total through the first 10 contests. The two-time league MVP desperately misses Jordy Nelson, as Randall Cobb just hasn't been as effective. Cobb has failed to top 50 yards receiving in three straight and five of his last seven games. James Jones is getting some discussion, but it's mostly because he's wearing a hoodie on the field. Finally, ask fantasy football owners about how much love they had for Davante Adams. Well that never came to fruition, as he has 50 catches and one touchdown on the season. The lone bright spot it seems is tight end Richard Rodgers, who was on the other end of the Hail Mary in Detroit a few weeks ago. Washington's vulnerable in the secondary, as the team recently signed veteran Cary Williams to help out. Bashaud Breeland is very good at cornerback, but Will Blackmon, Williams and Quinton Dunbar are just “names” on the other side.

3. Run, Run, Run Away

The most important factor for this game could be which team gets their anemic run game going. The Packers have shown more flashes of brilliance, but I might take the Skins’ backfield in this one. Alfred Morris picked up more than 100 yards rushing last week against a solid Cowboys defense. Mix in a little Matt Jones and Chris Thompson or Pierre Thomas and you have a group that can do a lot to hurt you on the field. Green Bay's run defense has given up 100-plus yards on the ground in six straight games. On the opposite side, you've got a vulnerable Washington run D taking on Eddie Lacy and James Starks. Green Bay wants to run the ball so it takes the heat off a mediocre offensive line, but it's just not getting consistency. Lacy has 117 yards rushing over the last three games after putting up 124 on the Cowboys back on Dec. 13. The squad that is able to ground out some yards is going to win this one.

Final Analysis

You've got the postseason veterans in the Packers playing the upstart Redskins on Sunday. It seems very easy to take Washington because the Skins are playing better and they are at home. While working on this preview, I went back and forth on which team I would pick. That Vikings game on Sunday night was awful to watch, as the Packers’ offense just didn't look right. In fact, this unit hasn’t looked right for a while and while I'd rather have Aaron Rodgers over Kirk Cousins if I'm starting a team, this is just one game. The Skins’ defense adds to Rodgers' misery and Washington gives us another week to fire up our "You Like That" vines.

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Prediction: Redskins 24, Packers 16

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.