Packers Travel to Washington To Open Playoffs
The the fifth-seeded Green Bay Packers head to Washington to play the fourth-seeded Redskins Sunday.
Washington is 9-7, has won its last four games and is 6-2 at home this season. After starting the month of December by winning its first three games, the Packers have lost their last two games and finished the season with a 10-6 record. On the road this season, Green Bay is 5-3.
The Redskins are hot right now and it has much to do with Kirk Cousins. In fact, Washington is going to even hand out towels that say, 'You Like That,' in honor of Cousins' catchphrase he said earlier this year. After starting out as the back-up for Robert Griffin III early in his career, Cousins has had a breakout season in 2015. He's thrown for 4,166 yards, 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Cousins can spread the ball around the offense for Washington. DeSean Jackson has caught four touchdowns and has 528 yards, while Pierre Garcon has hauled in six touchdowns and has 777 yards. Cousins' biggest target, though, has been tight end Jordan Reed. Reed has caught 87 passes for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The Packers, meanwhile, are banged up with 18 players on the injury report. One of the biggest factors is that David Bakhtiari's playing status is still in question. Head coach Mike McCarthy said in his Friday press conference that Bakhtiari is going to practice Saturday. Last week, Josh Sitton played left tackle while Bakhtiari sat out for a second straight week. But against Washington, Sitton, a Pro Bowl player, will be back at left guard. This season, the Packers offensive line has allowed Aaron Rodgers to be sacked 46 times.
One thing that may be beneficial for Rodgers and the Packers' offense is that Washington's pass defense is 25th in pass defense. And Rodgers and James Jones started to hook up deep late in last Sunday's game against Minnesota. However, Rodgers and his receivers will have to find their stride much earlier versus the Redskins. Washington's defense also ranks fifth in the NFL by allowing 380.6 yards per game. In order for the Packers to get their passing game going, they will have to get Eddie Lacy going early and their offensive line will need to allow Rodgers time roll out of the pocket and look downfield for his receivers.
For Green Bay, Bakhtiari, Jayrone Elliot, Datone Jones, Justin Perillo, Sam Shields and Sitton haven't practiced this week. Bryan Bulaga, Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion, Lacy, T.J. Lang, Corey Linsley, Mike Neal and Lane Taylor have been limited in practice. Clay Matthews and Andy Mulumba have been full participants in practice.
For Washington, Chris Baker didn't practice on Thursday, while Quinton Dunbar, Dashon Goldson, Jason Hatcher, Matt Jones, and Perry Riley have been limited in practice. DeSean Jackson, Jeron Johnson, Deshaun Phillips, Chris Thompson and Trent Williams have practiced in full this week.
Sunday's game between the Packers and Redskins is on FOX and right here on ESPN 99.1 at 3:40 p.m. CDT.