The Redskins hosted the Packers in January for a playoff game, and while the game was close for three quarters, eventually Green Bay pulled away. Sunday night is a chance at redemption. Winter's cold is expected to his FedEx Field by the time 8 p.m. rolls around, and the wind could be blowing as well. Kickoff is set for 8:30, but all the coverage starts on CSN at 7:30 p.m. These are your storylines to watch:
- Slumpbuster - For much of the last decade, the Packers have been serious Super Bowl contenders, only this season, things look to be unraveling for Green Bay. Losers of three straight and four out of their last five, the Pack come to Washington fresh off a 47-25 thrashing at the hands of the Titans, and the game is not as close as the final score indicates. The Green Bay defense is giving up 26 points-per-game, good for 24th in the NFL.
- Last time we met - Undoubtedly, two different teams will take the field Sunday night than took the field in January when the Packers soundly defeated the Redskins in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. That said, Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry spoke honestly about what the playoff loss meant to him, and he explained he showed his team the tape of that game this week. "I think at times we played very well last year, but when you go against a guy like No. 12 [Aaron Rodgers], you have got to be on it every snap because he demands that type of perfection because if you slip, if you’re off, he’s going to make you pay for it."
- Making them pay - Aaron Rodgers is one of the more interesting players in the NFL. Likely headed to the Hall of Fame, Rodgers does not mind engaging in verbal sparring with the media or other people around the NFL. There have been some reports of infighting between Rodgers and Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy, although both men downplayed that. On the season, Rodgers has thrown 22 TDs to 7 INTs, though other statistics are way down. Some thought suggests Rodgers is too quick to go off-script, but the flip side of that criticism is the Packers offensive line hardly protects their QB. Rodgers has been sacked 22 times this season, compared to just 12 sacks for 'Skins passer Kirk Cousins.
- Century club - Robert Kelley has now started the last two games for the Redskins and his stats are trending up. He ran for more than 80 yards against the Bengals, and then gained 97 yard against the Vikings. Some of his teammates joked that Kelley needs to find the additional three yards so that he can become a 100-yard rusher. "I heard that [Kelley] got 97 yards rushing. I feel we could’ve got three more. It would have been nice to get three more," left tackle Ty Nsekhe said after the win over Minnesota. Against the Packers, it could happen; Green Bay gave up 154 yards on the ground last week in Nashville.
- Keep it coming - Clearly the Packers offensive line is a troubled unit as the team has given up 22 sacks on Rodgers. The Washington pass rushers should look to add to that total. On the strength of seven sacks each from Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy, the Redskins rank No. 6 in the NFL with 25 sacks. Second-year man Preston Smith, for the first time this year, showed how dangerous he can be last week against the Vikings with two sacks and an incredibly athletic interception. As the defensive front gets to Rodgers will probably be a pretty good indicator of how this game will turn out.
Numbers & Notes:
- The Redskins are looking for their first Sunday night win since a season finale victory over the Dallas Cowboys in 2012 that clinched an NFC East title.
- If Kirk Cousins can throw for 284 or more yards, he will become the sixth quarterback in team history to record back-to-back 3,000-yard seasons.
- Ryan Kerrigan will make his 90th straight NFL start - tied for second-most among active NFL linebackers - and he has never missed a start in his NFL career.
- A win Sunday night would give the Redskins six wins through 10 games for the first time since 2008 (6-4).
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