This week connects the regular season's conclusion and the start of the Washington Redskins first playoff appearance since 2012. With this intersection in mind, we tasked our Breaking Burgundy team with a dozen questions on the overall season, the key moments and what's up next. Click here for Part 1 on how Redskins won the NFC East, MVP and biggest sleeper. Part 2 includes key moves and moments plus the year's silliest debate. In the finale, Kirk Cousins, Redskins-Packers and Super Bowl predictions.
9. Biggest issue entering playoffs
Ben Standig: The bend-but-don't-break defense improved as the season progressed, but can the secondary overcome yet another wave of injuries? For this particular matchup, I also wonder if the Packers attack the Redskins' inside linebackers by targeting tight end Richard Rodgers.
Chris Russell: The Redskins biggest issue entering the playoffs is their lack of health on the back end. As we wrote about, if they don't get takeaways or if their pass rush is controlled - they will be on vacation next week.
Peter Hailey: I don’t think the running game is that big of a problem — the offense has gotten along just fine without it in the season’s last quarter. I’ll say I’m most worried about the pass rush, even though its been consistent as of late. Can Ryan Kerrigan and Co. take over a game against a guy like Aaron Rodgers, or get that crucial third down sack when you need it? I’m skeptical.
Talib Babb: The playoffs has always been hailed as the time where bad weather teams shine. Most bad weather teams can run the ball and play defense well. The Redskins are solid defensively, but have no productivity on the ground and that remains their biggest issue entering Wild Card Weekend. The projected forecast is calling for rain in the D.C. metropolitan area all weekend, so the passing game might be affected by the poor weather. One of the most unfortunate things for the Redskins is if they have to depend on their running game any more than they would like to.
Dan Roth: The biggest issue for Washington as it enters the playoffs is the beat up secondary. They’ve coped well with injuries all season long, but there is something truly horrifying about Aaron Rodgers in a scramble drill against this secondary. If the defense slips up, Rodgers will make it count.
Frank Hanrahan: Biggest issue heading in to the playoffs is overconfidence. Redskins should feel good about getting to the post-season but they have to and I am sure they realize that they have had little success in the playoffs for the last 20 years! Green Bay is a solid, veteran ball club led by two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers. The Redskins have no business over looking the Packers. Not saying they are but they need to approach this game with the mentality that no one gives them a shot even though they are favored.
T Manuel: Is it midnight yet? Is it too much too soon? Also, we have to score points off turnovers. Wasted turnovers won't get you far in January
10. Jokes aside, how much do you like Kirk Cousins now and for the future
Ben Standig: At least to these eyes, it's been clear for a calendar year and then some that Kirk Cousins was the best QB option on the roster. He can make all the throws. He allows coach Jay Gruden to use his entire playbook, a rarity last season. When critics clobbered Cousins before and during the season for mistakes and perceived timid play, my counter was let's see what happens when he knows the job is his, when he's had a few weeks working with the first team on a daily basis, which didn't happen during training camp. Now we've seen plenty and since Week 7, it's been plenty of wow. Don't confuse praise with blind faith. We'll see what happens next season assuming he sticks around, but, yes, I like lots about Kirk Cousins.
Chris Russell: No jokes here. Kirk Cousins is and always has been the best pocket quarterback option for the Redskins and somebody you can rely on to run the entire offense and distribute the football. If anybody questions that, you need new glasses.
Talib Babb: Kirk Cousins is a future first-ballot Hall of Famer. Ok, just kidding. He could be, who knows, but right now I like him heading into the playoffs since he is currently the hottest quarterback in the NFC. For the future, I like a franchise tag or short-term deal simply because you can't go off of one year of production. Too many times in the NFL we have seen guys succeed one year and then struggle for whatever reason. I'm not giving Cousins the key to the organization just yet.
Peter Hailey: I’m not totally sold, but I’m 90% there. I wish he could’ve topped some winning teams and stronger franchises, but good lord, the man has been been dealing the entire second half of the schedule. I’m very comfortable with him as the starter for next season, and if he turns in another year like this, then I’m ALL IN.
Dan Roth: (Crumbles up piece of paper) It’s hard not to like Cousins right now with the way the Redskins ended the season. Present infatuations aside, I have tempered optimism for Cousins as a long-term answer. As I’ve said before, I like where his head is at. Will he be the next Tom Brady? No. Nonetheless, the Redskins benefited from stability at the quarterback position within this season alone, and I believe they’ll continue to benefit as a franchise sans turmoil at the position in the coming years. You could certainly do worse than Captain Kirk.
Frank Hanrahan: I think Kirk Cousins is going to be the Redskins QB for years to come now. The Skins have to and will pay him a boatload of money this off-season. He has showed he has the right approach, attitude and most importantly production on the field to be the Redskins long term solution at the position.
T Manuel: Love him now, like him for the future. Can he lead us to wins over the best teams? Not sure yet, but he's erased many of the doubts I had about him entering this year so I hope we keep him and grow with him.
11. Prediction time. Redskins-Packers. If you think they win, how far do they go?
Chris Russell: I have the Redskins winning 24-21 but as the week goes along, I get more and more nervous about a big coverage bust in the secondary costing the Redskins their serason. As much as I want to believe in them, I think they are a one-and-done playoff team because Carolina and Arizona are bad matchups.
Peter Hailey: Redskins win in a tiggggghttttttt one, 31-28. Kirk and A-Rod have a fun duel, but the Redskins’ weapons prove to be better than the Packers’. I think the Cinderella run ends the following week at the hands of the Panthers or Cardinals, but once I remember how low my hopes were for this team at the start of the season, this playoff experience feels like borrowed time, honestly.
Dan Roth: This is a game in which I don’t think any result would surprise me. That being said, I have the Redskins taking down the Packers, 27-24, before losing in the divisional round.
Frank Hanrahan: I think the Redskins will make it close but I think Green Bay will come in to Fed Ex Field and get a 23-20 victory. I just can't bet against Aaron Rodgers.
Talib Babb: This was the most attractive matchup for Redskins fans since the Packers crawled into the playoffs and I think the Redskins advance. The key to the game will be the Redskins offense maintaining their rhythm and scoring touchdowns instead of field goals. I don't trust the Packers offense to keep up with Washington if the score gets in the mid or high 20s. I never thought I would ever say or write that about both of these teams. I predict the Redskins win at home and then head to Arizona to lose a competitive game. Final score for Sunday: Packers 17, Redskins 27.
Ben Standig: This applies to just about any quarterback, but the Redskins' pass rush must get after Aaron Rodgers. The Packers' offensive line is wobbly and the Redskins' secondary is beat up. Get this done and assuming the offense continues its upward trend, Washington 27 Green Bay 23. That likely sets up a matchup with the Cardinals and, well, let's stay positive...
T Manuel: If we stick to what's been working for us this should be an easy win. Redskins site, so I'll say we're playing in Santa Clara!
12. Super Bowl predictions (final score and MVP at least)
Ben Standig: The AFC is messier than Route 50 heading to the Eastern Shore on Memorial Weekend. In the AFC, we'll go with the Patriots by default unless the Steelers or Chiefs make a run. Hedge! The NFC is deeper at the top which is why Ric Flair's "to be the best you have to beat the best" comes to mind. When the Arizona Cardinals emerge from the pack, they finish off the journey with a 31-27 win over New England as rookie runner David Johnson takes home the MVP award.
Chris Russell: I have the Arizona Cardinals winning the Super Bowl over the Denver Broncos. I'm going a bit out on a limb here considering Arizona got whacked by Seattle and Denver's offensive struggles. However, I think both teams get to the league's showcase by virtue of their defense and then Arizona blitzes the snot out of Peyton Manning and he goes down in flames. Larry Fitzgerald named MVP.
Peter Hailey: Cardinals beat Steelers in a rematch of a few years ago. Underrated Arizona running back David Johnson wins MVP. Yes, I’m well aware that this will probably be totally wrong. I don’t care.
Talib Babb: The field is so open this year. However, sometimes I like feel-good stories so what the hell, I say Peyton Manning starts his own stupid 'revenge tour' after being accused of using HGH and the Denver Broncos make a run to the Super Bowl. They meet up with the Arizona Cardinals and..........the Broncos win 23-20, while Manning wins his second Super Bowl MVP and rides off into the sunset still not being better than Tom Brady. The end.
Dan Roth: The Patriots defeat the Panthers 32-29 and Tom Brady wins MVP. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s what happened in Super Bowl 38. History repeats itself, folks.
Frank Hanrahan: My Super Bowl pick is Carolina over New England. A rematch of what the 2005 Super Bowl but this time the Panthers and Cam Newton get the win. Newton will be your MVP.
T Manuel: My head says Cardinals-Patriots. But let's go with my heart: Redskins over KC 23-16. I love the similarities with these teams. 2 game managers at QB (though Smith probably is), colleagues/Ron Wolf disciples at GM, similar play-calling structures and the name-change protesters! MVP goes to Eric Berry because how could you not?
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