Expert's Final Thoughts On NFC Wild Card Matchup Packers vs. Redskins

Ted Sevransky

Friday, January 8, 2016 10:20 PM GMT

Friday, Jan. 8, 2016 10:20 PM GMT

The Green Bay Packers visit the Washington Redskins in the last game of Wild Card Weekend. The total for this game is set at 45 on the NFL odds board.

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NFL Picks: Over 44.5

Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

 

There’s a strong case to be made for either side here.  From a ‘playoff pedigree’ standpoint, the Packers are the obvious pick.  Green Bay played the much tougher regular season schedule, ranking #9 in schedule toughness, compared to a #24 ranked Redskins schedule.  That makes Green Bay a clear choice for those who subscribe to the ‘Sagarin Strength of Schedule’ Wild Card Weekend betting trend that has gone 37-14-1 ATS since 2002. 

Aaron Rodgers has 11 playoff starts under his belt over the last five years; Kirk Cousins has none.  Washington’s two games against playoff bound foes – they only faced two playoff teams all year – were both blowout losses, losing by 17 to the Patriots and by 28 to the Panthers.  Their only other game all year against a team with a winning record was a two TD loss against the Jets.  Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers had wins against playoff bound foes like the Seahawks, Chiefs and Vikings.

‘Playoff pedigree’ opinions hold significant sway in the betting markets.  And based on ‘playoff pedigree’ alone, there’s a legitimate case that the Packers should be favored here by a field goal or more. But from a ‘current form’ standpoint, an equally strong case can be made for the Redskins.  If this pointspread was based on current form alone, Washington would be at least -3 NFL odds here, maybe higher!

Green Bay is 4-6 SU in their last ten games.  And even the four wins weren’t impressive.  They were badly outplayed by the Lions, needing a miracle penalty followed by a miracle Hail Mary to steal that victory.  They got Dallas one week after the Cowboys had lost Tony Romo again, a downtrodden team at the tail end of a disappointing campaign.  Their ten point win at Oakland was completely fraudulent. Green Bay gained only 4.2 yards per play in that contest; yet another game where their running game didn’t work and where Aaron Rodgers didn’t have open receivers to throw to downfield.  The Packers scored only one touchdown in five red zone tries against an iffy Raiders defense. 

Green Bay’s only legitimately ‘good’ game since Week 6 came when they beat Minnesota in Week 11; a Vikings team that struggled mightily to step up in class all year.  If you throw out those early season stats, when the Packers were relatively healthy and playing at a very different level than they are now, you’ll see a team that has been consistently outgained and outplayed for the better part of the last three months!

The exact opposite is true for the Washington Redskins.  Washington has now won five of their last six, the lone loss coming via a last second field goal.  They’ve been dominant at home all year; 6-2 SU and ATS, with one of those two losses coming via a punt return touchdown on opening day.  Kirk Cousins finished the regular season ranked #6 in QBR, well ahead of #15 Aaron Rodgers.  Cousins put together a 19-2 TD-INT ratio over the back half of the season.  This offense has hung 34+ in three straight games, and they’re entering the postseason oozing confidence.

Rather than a side recommendation, I’m going to recommend an Over play here.  Washington’s offense is hot; their defense is not.  Aaron Rodgers has a postseason track record worthy of support, despite the fact that this has been the worst statistical season of his career.  Gametime temperatures are expected to be near 60 degrees – even with some wind expected, it’s not going to be a nasty night for playoff football.  Expect the loser here to exceed the three touchdown mark in what should be a relatively high scoring affair.  Take the Over with your NFL picks.

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