The final results of Week 17 are in. The NFC East-winning Washington Redskins will square off against the Green Bay Packers at FedEx Field in the first round of the 2016 NFL playoffs on Sunday at 4:40 p.m. ET. Here's a quick look at what's up with Packers...
Momentum moving against the Packers
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense enter the playoffs having sputtered in their final two regular-season games, totaling just 21 points in losses to the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings. Green Bay’s defense, meanwhile, surrendered 58 combined points in its final two games. If momentum accounts for anything, the Redskins wound up with perhaps the most favorable first-round matchup possible heading into Week 17. The Packers opened the season 6-0 before closing out their final 10 games at 4-6, finishing second in the NFC North to the Minnesota Vikings and entering the playoffs as the NFC’s fifth seed at 10-6.
Injuries slow the Packers’ offense
The Packers have been among the league’s most efficient offensive juggernauts over the past several seasons, but injuries hampered them significantly this season. The offense was dealt a major blow when Jordy Nelson, the team’s top wide receiver, sustained a season-ending right knee injury in the preseason. Meanwhile, slot receiver Randall Cobb, tasked with picking up the slack from Nelson’s injury, dropped precipitously in nearly every statistical category from last season to this season. Cobb is not alone in this regard. The entire offense has struggled behind a battered offensive line that forfeited 41 sacks this season.
As a result of their weak points, the Packers finished the 2015 regular season ranked 24th in the league in total offense, down from sixth last season and third the season before. Green Bay also finished the season ranked 24th in total defense with a unit that has been forced to cope with injuries. Perhaps the defense’s most significant loss of late was cornerback Sam Shields, who is under the league’s concussion protocol and hasn’t played since Week 14.
Rodgers represents a tall task for the Redskins defense. The two-time NFL MVP threw 30 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. His numbers, though impressive, are actually down from last season, when he threw 37 touchdowns and seven interceptions along with more than 800 additional yards. Rodgers’ dominance at the quarterback position stems from his powerful yet accurate arm and all-around athleticism. The 32-year-old is capable of extending plays with his legs and making life particularly difficult for defensive backs tasked with keeping up with his receivers during scramble drills.
* We knew the Redskins would face a bruising running back one way or the other in the Wild Card round. Eddie Lacy it is.
* Chris Russell recently previewed this potential matchup.
Dan Roth is a freelance sportswriter and Breaking Burgundy contributor. Follow Dan on Twitter @danrothdc.
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