By Bill Tewes, Jim Boyce & Mark Prott
Losers of 3 in a row, the (4-5) Packers are fresh off a humiliating beat-down and will look to salvage their season on Sunday night against the Redskins (5-3-1)
REDSKINS 31 PACKERS 20
The Packers might play in a lousy division but if they don’t come out with a win Sunday night, the doctor might as well come in and pronounce them dead. If last week was any indication, this is a below average team that fooled people for a few weeks earlier in the year. I expected a spirited effort last week but all I saw was a team that lacks fight and looks finished. Has Mike McCarthy’s message finally gone stale after 11 years? Can family conflict cause an MVP quarterback to regress? Can we just blame injuries again? Perhaps it’s a mixture of all these issues and more. Regardless, the Packers need a win in the worst way to silence all the noise.
When I look at this game on paper I don’t see the Packers defense, which has looked truly awful, bouncing back and preventing a team from breaking the 30 point barrier for a 4th week in a row. While I still view Kirk Cousins as more of an average quarterback, the Redskins are absolutely loaded in weapons at both wide receiver and tight end. Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis for that matter had to be smiling all week when they watched tape of Delanie Walker destroy the Packers defense last week. I’d say Clay Matthews should make a difference but he has to play for 4 quarters for that to happen, which is obviously not a given.
On offense, I think the Packers would be wise to pound the rock with James Starks and hopefully find success with the play action passing game. The Redskins defense is in the bottom half of the league in stopping the run and Starks looked like a legitimate running back last week with fresh legs in his first game action in over a month. The return of Jared Cook will be a positive development for the fact alone that it will mean less of the plodding Richard Rodgers on the field.
REDSKINS 34 PACKERS 27
Are the Packers officially in crisis mode? It sure seems so after being non-competitive against the middling Titans. The Packers desperately need a win this week to stay in the NFC playoff picture, but there is little on the field to suggest that a turnaround is on the way.
The Redskins are not a particularly good running team, but they should have no troubles airing it out on Sunday night. The middle of the field has been a constant problem for the Packers defense as opposing teams’ Tight Ends have put up good stat lines all season. Jordan Reed might be the best TE the Packers have seen thus far, he could be in for a monster night. Good for fantasy owners, bad for Packers fans. This defense has not stopped anyone (I will not even count the Matt Barkley led Bears) since the Giants game, and I doubt that will change this week.
In order for the Packers to win they will need to outscore Washington. Starks at least gives them a real running back, and on paper the passing attack has done well the last month or so. The problem is the Packers do not seem to get moving until they are down double digits. That’s not winning football. Green Bay needs to start fast and score on their opening possession to give the defense some relief. Avoiding three and outs will be critical to the Packers chances of winning. We’ll see if Aaron Rodgers has a vintage performance in him.
PACKERS 31 REDSKINS 24
A must win game for Green Bay will force Mike McCarthy’s hand to get more creative on the offensive side of the ball. The defense is banged up, but there has been no excuse for the Packers’ offense to sputter like it has the past two weeks. It’s obvious Green Bay cannot afford to lose this game and if last week was not the wake up call the team needs, then Im not sure what will wake them up.
There has been a lot of negativity surrounding reports that Aaron Rodgers refuses to speak with his family and there have even former players coming out to speak about his leadership qualities. I hope this serves to light a fire under Rodgers and he proves the doubters (Jermichael Finley, Greg Jennings etc) wrong about how well he can lead this team.
The Packers will get an alleged boost if Clay Matthews does indeed suit up tonight. Green Bay’s pass rush has been non-existent and one can argue Matthews’ missed games is the reason for that.
Washington posts the 6th most sacks in the league, so Rodgers will have to be on his A game as far as sensing pressure and finding the open receiver, instead of holding onto the ball and hoping someone is open downfield. Jared Cook might be on snap count, but his return will be huge as far as having another weapon at Rodgers’ disposal. The Redskins offense is also a mixed bag as their run game is almost invisible and Kirk Cousins is not having nearly as impressive of a year as he had last season.
Green Bay MUST WIN this game to save their season.