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Cousins vs. Rodgers: Do the Redskins have the advantage at quarterback on Sunday?

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Cousins vs. Rodgers: Do the Redskins have the advantage at quarterback on Sunday?

Will the Redskins have an advantage at quarterback going into their wild card playoff game against the Packers on Sunday?

Two months ago, even a few weeks ago, it would have preposterous to suggest that Kirk Cousins could be considered the better player at quarterback in a postseason game than Aaron Rodgers. The Packers quarterback has a Super Bowl ring and is a two-time MVP. Kirk Cousins was expected to spend this season on the bench and after six games he had six touchdown passes and eight interceptions and it looked like he was running out of rope.

But as we sit here today, neither quarterback has followed expectations. Rodgers is having one of his worst statistical years. He is down from his career averages in nearly every major statistical category including completion percentage (60.7 in 2015, 65.1 career), net yards per pass attempt (5.7 in 2015, 7.0 career) and passer rating (92.7 in 2015, 104.1 career).

Cousins, meanwhile, posted some solid numbers, including the best completion percentage in the NFL (69.8) and top 10 performances in passer rating (101.6, fifth) and net yards per attempt (7.0, sixth).

Here are their numbers for the season:

Clearly, Cousins had a better season. But the difference between the two becomes even more pronounced in the “what have to done lately” department. After six games the Redskins were 2-4 and Cousins was struggling as noted above. The Packers were rolling at 6-0. Rodgers was completing 68.1 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and two interceptions with a rating of 115.9.

But since then, Cousins has been better, much better. Here are the stats for the two QB’s from games seven through 16:

It’s clearly and advantage to Cousins when we’re talking about the body of work in 2015 and the more recent games this year. But Rodgers does have an edge when it comes to postseason experience. He has started 11 playoff games and the Packers have won six of them. Cousins’ only postseason experience came in mop up duty after Robert Griffin III was injured against the Seahawks in 2012.

How much of an advantage is it for your quarterback to have more playoff experience than your opponent’s? Last year the team with the more playoff-experienced quarterback went 7-3 in the playoffs (in one game the two QB’s had played an equal number of playoff games going in). But in 2013 the more experienced quarterback was on the losing side in six of the 11 games.

What all of this boils down to is that it’s one game. If you did 50,000 computer simulations of the game, Cousins would probably come out having a better day than Rodgers most of the time. But they will play it once and you certainly can't rule out Rodgers catching fire for a game and pushing the Packers past the Redskins.

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS OF THE WIN

Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”

RELATED: FIVE KEY MOMENTS IN RESKINS VS GIANTS

Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.