NFL on Sling: Rodgers and the Packers Chasing Redskins For Second Wild Card Spot

Nov 18, 2016 by Sling Staff

Green Bay Packers (4-5) vs Washington Redskins (5-3-1)
8:30pm ET Sunday on NBC

The ship is sinking in Green Bay, as the Packers lost their third straight game last Sunday, falling behind 21-0 in the 1st quarter before going on to lose 47-25 to the Titans. Aaron Rodgers connected on 31 of 51 for 371 yards and 2 TDs, but also threw a pair of interceptions and got sacked 5 times for 46 yards. Rodgers was totally outshined by Marcus Mariota, who completed 19 of 26 for 295 yards and 4 TDs, with 0 interceptions and just 2 sacks. There’s a lot of disagreement about whether the problem in Green Bay is that Rodgers has lost his mojo, had it destroyed by Olivia Munn, or has a corps of receivers who can’t get open. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter because the end result is the same: the Pack is losing more than they’re winning. And to be fair, the real problem is with the defense, which is giving up 5.8 more points per game than last year, while the offense is 1.8 ppg better. The absence of MLB Clay Matthews has been huge, as the Packers have allowed 19.2 ppg when he’s on the field, and 34.5 when he’s on the sidelines. And with Matthews out, offense are able to pay more attention to Julius Peppers, who has just 3.5 sacks through 9 games, after averaging 10 a year for 14 years – think maybe he’s lost a step?

Though they have scored just 3 more points than the opposition this season, the Washington Redskins are somehow still in the playoff hunt, and would lay claim to the second wild card spot if the season were to end today. Seven of their nine games this year have been one-possession affairs, including last week’s 26-20 win over the suddenly vulnerable Vikings. The Vikes had a 20-17 lead halfway through the third quarter, but then the ‘Skins kicked them to death, hitting four field goal attempts in the following 22 minutes, while Washington held Minnesota to a pair of punts, an interception, and a sack on 4th-and-17 with 11 seconds to play to end the game. Washington’s Kirk Cousins had maybe his best game of the year, hitting on 22 of 33 for 262 yards and 2 TDs, but his TD/INT ratio has still plummeted from 2.6 last year to 2.0 this year. The defense has improved immensely since giving up 92 points in the first 3 games, as they’ve allowed just 19.5 pp since then. The team’s real weakness is their red zone offense, where Cousins has been awful, completing just 21 of 49 for 144 yards, 8 TDs and 13 INTs, as the ‘Skins have had to settle for 26 field goal attempts, second most in the league. Turn two of those FGs into TDs and these guys could be 7-2.

1pm on FOX

Buffalo Bills (4-5) vs Cincinnati Bengals (3-5-1)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5) vs Kansas City Chiefs (7-2)
Chicago Bears (2-7) vs New York Giants (6-3)
Arizona Cardinals (4-4-1) vs Minnesota Vikings (5-4)

4pm on FOX

Miami Dolphins (5-4) vs Los Angeles Rams (4-5)

Watch the Packers vs Redskins at 8:30pm ET Sunday on NBC or regional action on FOX by subscribing to Sling Blue

All stats courtesy ESPN and Pro Football Reference.

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