Shawn (11-5, 11-5 ATS) — Yes, the Green Bay Packers might be pretty happy to be in D.C. this weekend. The game-time temperature is supposed to be around 60. The likely temp around that same time in Green Bay is going to be around 15. On top of that, a win this weekend likely sends the Packers back to Arizona.
This would all be even better news if the Packers’ passing attack was its normal self. Unfortunately, as Marsellus Wallace once said, it is “pretty fucking far from alright.”
Regardless, weather is not expected to be a factor, either hurting or helping.
What you have here are two teams that are fairly enigmatic and that’s mostly because they are fairly mediocre. Neither team has shown a capacity for beating anyone better than they are, but both teams have faired well by beating teams looking forward to the draft.
If you look at these two teams statistically, they are pretty equal everywhere but pass defense. The Packers, believe it or not, rank sixth in the NFL there, while the Redskins rank 25th. Yes, the Redskins are even worse against the run, but the Packers aren’t good there either.
If momentum meant anything, then that should favor the Redskins. They’ve won four straight to close out their season and claim their division while the Packers have lost two in a row to lose theirs.
However, when you are talking about a veteran team that was in the NFC Championship game last season, I don’t believe that momentum means a lot. The Packers know what the playoffs are about. They’ve been here the last six seasons. They know the regular season doesn’t mean a lot at this point.
There is only one match-up that appears stark to me and that is Aaron Rodgers versus Kirk Cousins. Yeah, I know Cousins has played as well or better than Rodgers this year, but that was then and this is the playoffs.
After being fairly certain that the Packers would lose out after Arizona, I have changed my mind. The Packers and Rodgers have been saying all the right things this week, and you could say that I am drinking their Kool-Aid.
I also like this match-up because I think the Packers defense matches up well with the Redskins offense. I think they can get after Cousins and even turn him over. I am not as concerned in this game about Sam Shields not playing because the Redskins have a receiver by committee approach anyway.
The Packers will need their star players to perform. Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews need to be the difference makers for the Packers that the Redskins don’t have. Mike Daniels needs to make his presence known and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix needs to continue is playoff performance from last year.
Offensively, considering their opponent, I think the Packers offense can do enough to win this game. Aaron Rodgers has advocated taking more chances on offense. We will see. But whether it is by running the football or by Rodgers actually having a good game, I think the Packers should be the better offense on Sunday.
I may be delusional, but as a certain Hall of Fame finalist once said, “Now is the time.”
Packers 24, Redskins 20
Monty (9-7, 9-7 ATS) — As Shawn noted, this is a pretty even match-up. The line opened with Washington favored by one. It was then pushed to Green Bay by one and it’s gone back and forth since.
We’re going to call this a pick ’em game, since that’s essentially what it is.
With that in mind, I’ll just get this out of the way. The Green Bay Packers are going to win this game. Here’s why they’re going to win it.
First, we all know Washington is one of the hot teams in the NFC coming into the playoffs. Well, we see this every year. Hot team finishes regular season with a nice win streak, loses first playoff game. Season over.
Teams that are hot going into the playoffs actually have a lower win percentage than teams on the flip side. So, we’re throwing Washington’s “momentum” right out the window.
Second, we’re not even going to look at the on-field match-ups. These teams are pretty evenly matched, with the Packers having a somewhat better defense.
That doesn’t matter. Where the Packers have the real advantage — a difference-making advantage — is in playoff experience. From their coaching staff on down through their roster, these guys have been there, done that. Washington has not. That will be a factor.
Lastly, we’ve seen this all before. We’ve seen it in the regular season and we’ve seen it in playoffs past.
Pretty simply, these are the types of teams the Packers beat in both instances.
Look at who the Packers beat in the regular season. Nobody terribly impressive. Their wins came against teams similar to them and teams they should have beaten.
They got throttled by the upper echelon of the league.
Now look at the playoffs since the Super Bowl run. What have the Packers done? They’ve beaten teams they should have and teams similar to them. Then they go on (when they actually win a game) and lose to the upper echelon of the league.
Who have the Packers beaten in the playoffs since that Super Bowl run?
The Vikings (led by Joe Webb) in 2012 in a Wild Card game and the Cowboys in the divisional round last season. They should have beaten the Vikings and the Cowboys were very similar to them.
After each of those wins, the Packers went on to lose to upper echelon teams (49ers and Seahawks). And then, of course, there were the seasons where they just got beat right away by upper echelon teams.
You can probably see the foreshadowing here.
The Packers are going to go and beat the team they should beat this weekend and then they’re going to go get throttled by Arizona next weekend.
Just like usual.
But hey, we get to feel okay for one week.
Packers 23, Redskins 20