Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers is among the best quarterbacks in NFL history, but he’s not the one coming into Sunday’s playoff game on a roll.
In his last 10 games, Washington’s Kirk Cousins had 23 touchdowns with three interceptions. He led all passers this season with a 69.8 completion percentage and set a Redskins record with 4,166 yards passing.
Cousins was even more impressive at home. In his final seven home games, he had 15 touchdowns with no interceptions. He and Seattle’s Russell Wilson are the only quarterbacks in the league with at least one touchdown pass in each game.
Rodgers, meanwhile, lacking receivers who can consistently get open, had his lowest passer rating this season (92.7) since he became a starter in 2008.
That said, Cousins is appropriately deferential when discussing Rodgers’ body of work.
“Aaron is at the top,” Cousins told reporters this week. “I feel like I’ve stood up here and said that about Tom Brady when we played the Patriots. I feel like I’ve said that about Drew Brees when we played the Saints, but, I mean, Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers. He’s tough to beat.”
The Packers are hobbling into Washington, with left tackle David Bakhtiari questionable because of an ankle injury. He’s responsible for protecting the blind side of Rodgers, who has been under siege from pass rushers all season.
Sam Shields, Green Bay’s most experienced cornerback, will sit out the game because of a concussion. That’s especially bad news with speedy Redskins receivers DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed ready to test that defense.
“When you’re talking about a concussion it’s obviously different than other injuries,” Packers Coach Mike McCarthy said in reference to Shields, who sustained the injury Dec. 13 against Dallas. “You don’t just get to 70, 80, 90%. Everyone is different. Every player is different. Until he comes through the protocol that’s just where we are.”
Much of the Packers’ success will depend on their running game, which features pounder Eddie Lacy and the fleet-footed James Starks, both of whom are averaging 4.1 yards per carry. The Packers are averaging a respectable 115.6 yards per game.
Washington has had vulnerabilities when it comes to stopping the run. The Redskins are 26th in run defense, yielding 122.6 yards per game.
By the numbers
How teams compare statistically. All stats are per-game averages, except for turnover differential, which is for the season (league rank in parentheses):
STATISTICS | GB | WAS
Points scored | 23.0 (15) | 24.2 (10)
Points allowed | 20.2 (12) | 23.7 (17)
Pass offense | 218.9 (25) | 255.9 (11)
Rush offense | 115.6 (12) | 97.9 (20)
Pass defense | 227.6 (6) | 258.0 (25)
Rush defense | 91.2 (5) | 122.6 (26)
Sacks | 43 (T7) | 38 (T14)
Penalty yards | 56.6 (15) | 51.7 (8)
Turnovers | +5 (T10) | +4 (14)
Sam Farmer’s pick
The Packers’ offensive line is broken down, and their receivers can’t get separation. That’s the recipe for a long day for Rodgers, great as he is. If he had time, he could pick people apart. Cousins has been terrific at home all year.
REDSKINS 28, PACKERS 20