The NFL playoffs begin this weekend with the 4 Wild Card games, and I have to say that this is shaping up to be one of the most wide-open postseasons I can remember. You can make a case for all 12 teams heading into the playoffs, even those who are something of a surprise participant. One of those teams would be the Washington Redskins, and they will kick things off at home on FedEx Field versus the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, January 10 at 4:40 PM EST on Fox. The Packers are a very slim 1-point online betting favorite for this one.
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) January 7, 2016
Why bet on the Washington Redskins to cover?
The Redskins have turned into something of a laughing stock over the past few years, and there was nothing to suggest that they would be a playoff threat this season. They chose to start with an unproven commodity in Kirk Cousins at QB, and he has done nothing but make that move look like a stroke of genius. Cousins has thrown for 4,166 yards, hitting 29 TD versus just 11 INT. He has steadily improved with each passing week, and has 7 300+ yard games to his name this season. You can say that the 9-7 Redskins benefitted from a pretty weak NFC East division this season, but that would be somewhat unfair, as they managed to go 8-4 against conference foes. They are a solid 6-2 on home field, which certainly plays into their favor here. You have to believe that the Redskins defense is going to go after Aaron Rodgers, as he has had some iffy protection this season. If they do, look for Ryan Kerrigan and his 9.5 sacks to be the man leading the charge. The Redskins have averaged slightly more points (24.3) than they have given up (23.7) this season, which suggests this might be as tight as the bookies suggest.
Why bet on the Green Bay Packers to cover?
In any other year with Aaron Rodgers at the helm, this would be considered a total mismatch. Things have not gone as well for the Packers as expected this season, but a lot of the blame for their offensive woes has been placed on the fact that they have been without Jordy Nelson for the season. That has made it easier to defend Green Bay, as they don’t have the ability to stretch the field in the way that they can with Nelson in the line-up. The numbers for Rodgers are still numbers that most QB’s would be pleased with, but they haven’t really turned into points this season. The Packers are middle of the pack with 23.0 PPG, and are also outside the top 10 in defense, giving up 20.2 PPG. They are coming into this game having lost 2 in a row, but they also come in with a 5-3 record on the road, which cannot be overlooked.
I have to admit that I have gone back and forth on this one numerous times. Does the playoff experience of the Packers give them the edge, or does the growing confidence and 4-game winning streak of the Redskins put them over the top? Tough call, but I guess I have to make it.