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Key Matchups: Packers vs. Redskins-Who Will Hail in the Battle of the Potomac

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Key Matchups: Packers vs. Redskins-Who Will Hail in the Battle of the Potomac

This has certainly been a testy week within the Packers organization as many felt that the officials stole a win from them against the division rival Minnesota Vikings.  The NFL and the Packers have exchanged pleasantries throughout the week over last weeks officiating nightmare. Every football pundit has discussed the ruling and voiced their opinion on the matter at nauseam and now we are finally ready to get back to football.  

The Packers shift of focus to the upcoming game from the postgame theatrics of last week does not change the fact that they will be going into Landover Maryland this week with a chip on their shoulders as they look to prove that they are a formidable contender in the NFC North.  One way of proving that they are a legitimate NFC North contender is to go into Fed Ex Field and play a complete, fundamentally sound sixty minutes of football and come away with a victory against the Redskins on their home turf.  

In order to go into, and come out of Washington with a victory, the Packers must have the advantage in some incredibly key matchups. 

Aaron Rodgers and the Offense vs. The Washington Redskin Defense:

The Redskin defense is quickly turning into one of the leagues best as they tout some of the best young defensive players on their front seven and sport one of the best secondaries in all of football.  This deadly combination of superior pass rushes and pass coverage gives the Redskin defense the confidence to shut down the leagues best offensive units.  As a result of this combination of pass rush and pass coverage, the Packers will have to make some minor adjustments for their offensive to develop a rhythm and move the ball down the field.  

The offensive line will have the difficult task of trying to keep Aaron Rodgers upright in the pocket and limit him and his ailing knee from taking any punishment from the Redskins front seven.  In addition to dealing with the likes of Jonathan Allen, Ryan Kerrigan, and Daron Payne, the Packers receivers will face the difficult task of being able to create separation from the elite coverage of the Redskins secondary.  Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, and DJ Swearinger will be among those in charge of making plays on the ball and blanketing Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Jimmy Graham, and Geronimo Allison in shut down coverage which could spell a long afternoon for the Packers main receiving quartet.  

Neutralizing the Redskins Defense:

Most of the pressure that Aaron Rodgers endured last week against Minnesota was on longer developing routes which forced the offensive line to hold their blocks for an extended amount of time and allowed Minnesota's defense to capitalize.  With a defense like Washington's, it will be crucial for the Packers to Maintain a crisp rhythm So that their offense can work at a high tempo in order to neutralize Washington's pass rush.

I will be looking to see if Mike McCarthy and Joe Philbin incorporate plenty of three-step drops featuring slants, screens, and quick outs that will protect Rodgers and provide natural separation and create openings for the Packers receivers.  If the Packers are successful in the short game and the run game they could look to pick their spots to take deep shots down the field.  

Packers Secondary vs. The Redskins Receivers: 

This becomes a more interesting matchup when you factor in the void that Kevin King’s groin injury leaves within the Packers secondary.  Last week, the Packers secondary looked good for the first half and slowly started to deteriorate after Kevin King left the game with a groin injury.  There is no secret that Kevin King’s lack of durability throughout this point in his career has hurt the Packers secondary at the most inopportune times.

This was on display yet again last week against the Vikings when Davon House took the bulk of the snaps at the right outside corner position after King left with injury, and preceded to get torched on a number of occasions, most notably by Stefon Diggs for a long touchdown that shifted the momentum of the game in the Vikings favor.  According to pro football focus elite, Davon House’s grade of 30.0 is the lowest of any member in the Packers secondary and is in the lowest tier among cornerbacks in the NFL (247 out of 248).   

With this in mind, Mike Pettine must limit House’s snaps wherever possible and prevent him from seeing a large amount of one on one coverage, providing him with ample help over the top.  In Sunday afternoons contest, I look for Tramon Williams to match up with Josh Doctson, Jaire Alexander to matchup with Paul Richardson, and Josh Jackson along with the safeties and linebackers to cover Jamison Crowder, Jordan Reed, and Vernon Davis in the slot receiver position(s).

Clay Matthews and the Packers Defense vs. The Officials:

It is not a secret that the Packers and the NFL are in a bit of a battle with each other following last Sunday's controversial "roughing the passer" call against Clay Matthews.  The NFL doubled down on their stance, as we knew they would by giving Tony Corrente and his crew a boisterous vote of confidence.  They said that not only did Corrente and his crew make the correct call but that they will be sending out an instructional video of how not to hit a quarterback using Clay Matthews hit on Kirk Cousins as the primary example.  

The Packers wasted little time firing back at the NFL as Mike McCarthy addressed their strong stance and abrasive attitude towards the clarification of their convoluted rules on quarterback hits.  McCarthy said in his Wednesday news conference that he is confident in the way that the Packers teach tackling techniques and he is also confident in the way that they teach their players to hit the quarterback.  McCarthy added that the Packers will not change the way in which they teach tackling and hitting the quarterback.

Translation: The Packers will try and penetrate the Redskins stout offensive line to open up pass rushing lanes for Mike Pettine to dial up exotic blitzes in the "A" gap as well as the outside.  If they are successful in getting to Alex Smith, the Packers will put the hardest legal hit on him (per their organizational interpretation of the rules) and force the officials to either adhere to the NFL's convoluted standards by continuing to make questionable roughing the passer calls, or, hold onto their flags and use common sense when penalizing players for excessive hits on the quarterback.  

There is no question that quarterback safety is paramount in a league that is so heavily reliant on offense and as a result of this, there will be some questionable calls when trying to defend a player's safety.  All that anyone asks, is for the NFL to find the balance of when a hit is safe and when a hit is dangerous (which can be a fine line) and use common sense and sound football judgment when making a call that could potentially change the outcome of the game.

Predictions and Thoughts:

I expect the battle for the Patomac to be a back and forth, nail-biting contest that goes down right to the wire.  In recent years, the Packers have struggled at Fed Ex Field in the regular season but have come up big in the postseason.  The Packers will need a postseason like performance to rebound from the disheartening outcome of last weeks rivalry game against the Vikings.  I expect the Packers to come out with a chip on their shoulder, playing like a confident 2-0 team that expects to put the NFC North on notice that they are the team to beat in the division.

The Packers will have to set the tone early in their first game away from the friendly confines of Lambeau Field and show that all three phases of their game can travel with them into any environment in the NFL.  The offense will look to strike early and often with quick passes which they hope will open up some deep shots down the field.  The defense will try and put early pressure on Alex Smith, and prove that they can seal a victory late in the game for the team.  

  • I expect a hard fought game that could go either way
  • I look for Mike McCarthy to establish the running game
  • I think Mike Pettine will try and get pressure on and hit Alex Smith early
  • I think that the Redskins offensive line and Alex Smith's mobility holds off the Packers pass rush for the most part
  • Look to see 5 and 6 defensive backs in the game and a lot of the turbo package late
  • I expect Jimmy Graham and Jordan Reed to have big games for their respective teams.
  • I think that the Packers defense bends but ultimately does not break
  • I think that the Packers win by a score of 24-21  




David Michalski is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter @kilbas27dave 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (26) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bearmeat's picture

The Redskins suck. They suck on offense and they suck in 3/4 of the secondary. The GB OL should hold up fine.

I expect and easy GB win.

Kb999's picture

Bear, I think the Pack wins but Alex Smith is going to put up some points on this secondary. I just think Arod puts up more points. It's never easy for GB.

Tarynfor12's picture

So, there can be no reason (excuse) for a loss or Rodgers playing bad (knee injury) or the defense failing to play well....


Allow me to offer an excuse....The Packers have always found a way to play down to the competition even with a healthy Rodgers.

Bearmeat's picture

They won't this year.

Green Bay is improved in the secondary. Pettine is better than Capers. The starting OL is stout. The weapons are solid. What's to fear from a Redskin team with an oft-injured TE and a RB?

I think GB rolls, and I'm not worried I'm wrong.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

"The Redskin defense ... sport one of the best secondaries in all of football."


Bearmeat's picture


The age of over-analysis and fantasy football, I'm afraid. The Skins have played NO ONE. GB will roll in this game.

flackcatcher's picture

You guys are far kinder than I am today.....

sardog's picture

Regarding questionable calls, both Matthews and Kendrick were not fined on Friday. Very telling...MN's Sendejo was fined $53K for his hit on Adams above the shoulders. Sendejo is a repeat offender.

A Pickled Packer's picture

That's interesting about Sendejo because his was the worst hit of all. I'm surprised he wasn't ejected with the way the new rule is written. I guess if your not a QB your head is expected to be a little harder and you don't get the call.

Slim11's picture

Battle of the Potomac...or the Patomic?

CAG123's picture

I can’t be the only one that thinks we are giving the Redskins way too much credit they beat a bottom dweller in Arizona and lost to a middling squad in the Colts who’s QB has been out for nearly 2 years and is still getting acclimated to the game.

Bearmeat's picture

You're not. gb will roll.

David Michalski's picture

According to pro football focus premium the Redskins defense has the third best grade in the NFL this season at an 84.8, Bears are number 1 at 85.8 and the Rams are number 2 at 85.

flackcatcher's picture

Two games David. TWO DAMN GAMES!!!!!! At least wait for a third game to see if any trends are forming. Don't go all Cory on us yet......:) Welcome to the Goodell era. May it be quickly DIE!!!!!!!!

jeremyjjbrown's picture

It's to early to use PFF for anything this season. I for one would rather have GBs secondary than the Skins, Dix and Brice notwithstanding.

JDK52's picture

How thoroughly have you analyzed the two games that gave them those grades? PFF is barely useful halfway through the season. We're two games in!

J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

-I was very surprised to see the title "Staff Writer" after the author's name and not intern, 1st ever article.
-an M. A. in English from the College of New Jersey?
-have someone proof read your stuff next time.
-English is your second language, correct?

1.)ad not at naseum
2.)shift of focus- drop the 'of'
3.)Landover, Maryland
4.)One way of proving that they are a legitimate...- drop the 'that'
5.)This deadly combination of superior pass rushes and.. rushes to rush
6.)...the Packers will have to make some minor adjustments for their offensive to develop... -offensive to offense
7.)There is no secret that Kevin King’s lack of... -There is, to It's no
8.)Mike Pettine must limit House’s snaps wherever possible.. - wherever to whenever. he's not playing multiple positions
9.) the "A" gap as.. -are you quoting just the A?
10.)...passer calls, or, hold onto.. - drop the 2nd comma
11.) All that anyone asks, is for the NFL to -no need for a comma there!
12.)friendly confines of Lambeau Field- It's Lambeau, not Wrigley Field!!
13.)The offense will look to strike early and often with quick passes which they hope will open up some deep shots down the field. -comma after often

PatrickGB's picture

“a three step drop”.... from the pistol or shotgun? How does one do that effectively?

In any case, I believe that we are the stronger team.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Yeah, he's unlikely to be under center much if at all.

henry113's picture

Pat, I think were the better team also, but were not firing on all cylinders right now. Lets not take them lightly.

dobber's picture

Washington beat a team, in Arizona, that is looking like it will give the Bills a run for its money as worst team in the league. Then they outplayed Indy in their home opener, and still lost because they couldn't finish drives. Redskins have 'enigmatic team' written all over them. I suspect this will be close from beginning to end.

Kb999's picture

It shouldn't be close but your assessment may be accurate. Like last week, they had the Vikes on the ropes and let them get back in the game. Too many screw ups. MM red zone plays also sucked.

hobowilly's picture

to repeat the obvious from the staff writer,
"I will be looking to see if Mike McCarthy and Joe Philbin incorporate plenty of three-step drops featuring slants, screens, and quick outs that will protect Rodgers and provide natural separation and create openings for the Packers receivers. If the Packers are successful in the short game and the run game they could look to pick their spots to take deep shots down the field".
This is pretty much what i was thinking prior to the queens game. Now, i'm not too worried as the Skins D isn't as stout as either da Bears, nor Minn. Unfortunately as some have stated, GB often plays down to their opponents and this i fear. But with good game scheming and a clever mix of run/pass (mostly pass) GB should roll and win. I'd also like to see them offensive game planning to easily win time of possession...they are quite successful when they make a habit of that! NOW, GB WILL HAVE Aaron Jones!! He matters!

MarkinMadison's picture

Packers 31-17. I don't think the Redskins defense is all that yet.

Donster's picture

Utilize the running backs more. Carrying the ball and in the passing game. Of course MM will do that for part of the first quarter, then forget he has running backs. The Pack should be able to win by more than 10 points. Let us hope that the players heads are into this game, and not last weeks.

doubletrouble134's picture

I can't believe how much your giving this Washington team credit for there offence the defense they got there asses handed to them by Indy last week at home I would think packers r better then them plus they get there best running back back so don't crown this Washington team just yet besides if I was packers I be playing with a chip on my shoulders for fucked up referring that cost them a win

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