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Washington Redskins at Green Bay Packers: Preview and Pick
Washington Redskins at Green Bay Packers: Preview and Pick
The Washington Redskins won’t have long to catch their breath after a dizzying Monday Night Football game against the Philadelphia Eagles. In week two of the NFL schedule, the Redskins will travel to legendary Lambeau field to take on the Green Bay Packers.
Washington Redskins at Green Bay Packers Odds
The NFL betting line for this contest opened up with the Green Bay Packers favored by (-6.5) points. After an abysmal showing on prime time television against the Eagles, 67 percent of the public is jumping on the home team and this line can now be found at (-7.5) at several top rated sportsbooks.
The Washington Redskins are predicted to do very well this season, but they will have to recover from an opening loss if they hope to achieve those desired results. Robert Griffin III looked very rusty in the game against the Eagles after taking off the entire preseason recovering from injuries. The defense looked gassed after the Eagles ran them ragged with a high octane offense. If the Eagles offense gave the Redskins fits, the Packers defense could be very difficult to deal with.
Aaron Rodgers is one of the premiere quarterbacks in the league and he will look to recover from an opening day loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The Packers looked as though they were overmatched although they managed to go toe to toe with one of the toughest teams in the league for three quarters. Rookie running back Eddie Lacy showed signs of brilliance for this team and the Packers have high hopes that a running game will make the offense even more explosive.
The NFL betting trends unveil just how strong the Packers are at home and how difficult of a matchup this could be for the Redskins.
The Packers are 15-5-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last 21 home games against a team with a losing road record, 39-19-2 ATS in their last 60 games after allowing more than 350 total yards in their previous game and 22-8-1 ATS in the last 31 home games.
The Redskins are 1-6-1 ATS in their last 8 games after allowing more than 150 yards rushing in their previous game, 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games in Week 2, but 5-1 ATS in the last six games on the NFL highway.
The tired Washington Redskins will need to recover quickly if they hope to get into the win column this week against the Packers.
Washington Redskins at Green Bay Packers Pick
With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.
There are two ways to look at Mike Shanahan’s second Monday night eyesore in four years at the hands of Michael Vick and the Eagles:
(1) Like the big-picture, experienced coach said afterward, “It’s a 16-round fight, and we lost the first round.”
And (2) Just like that deflating night when Vick dropped 59 points in Landover three Novembers ago, Philly punked Washington again. Further demoralizing, it took more than a season for the clock to strike midnight, but now that it has, Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris and Kai Forbath have all turned into pumpkins at once, and the dream just might be dead forever.
Amid these crazed and wandering thoughts, it’s good to have someone to help differentiate between distorted reality and actual legitimate concern on the day after a really ugly game. Because everyone has packed up their computers and left the press box and it is now 2:27 a.m., that’s not going to happen.
Nonetheless . . . This team is closer to 4-12 than 12-4.
Distorted reality. Griffin will find his sea legs, his touch and his rhythm before the fourth quarter of almost every other game he plays this season, and it will be almost statistically impossible to have three turnovers in your first six offensive plays. The chances that a Shanahan-coached squad is going to open a second half with a 33-7, beat-the-traffic deficit — and have a 2-for-10 third-down efficiency night — is pretty slim.
But Griffin took some big hits and missed on passes downfield often, and the kid just didn’t look right at times.
Legitimate concern. His certainty afterward was almost too reassuring. “We don’t fumble pitches, and [Alfred Morris] doesn’t fumble the ball and I don’t throw picks,” Griffin said, which sounded great. But it didn’t leave room for further error, which likely will happen as his body adjusts to the fact he had the most invasive surgery on a knee possible outside of a total replacement less than a year ago.
When a not very fast outside linebacker such as Connor Barwin chases down Griffin from behind, that’s a sign that the speed with which Griffin bedazzled the NFL is going to take longer than merely eight months to return. Give him till Dallas and the fifth game either to shelve the knee brace or at least feel more natural in the pocket. Left tackle Trent Williams had the best take afterward. “You guys put him on a pretty good pedestal, so anything he does wrong is going to seem like a letdown,” the man who protects Griffin’s blind side said. “But I don’t feel he played that bad a game.”
One game in and already D-Hall has gotta go . . .
Distorted reality. DeAngelo Hall had a couple of alarming I-Gotta-Be-D moments. For instance, pantomiming toward the heavens after returning a fumble without a single person from the other team pursuing him and, oh, his umpteenth 15-yarder-cuz-my-team-is-getting-beat-down penalty. But the play in which his hips didn’t move, when DeSean Jackson ran a simple crossing route on the Eagles’ first touchdown, was not all his fault. Rookie safety Bacarri Rambo was supposed to have his back, but there’s a lack of communication in the secondary because Brandon Meriweather is still injured and the kids are trying to play like veterans. By and large, until Jim Haslett gets some people back, Hall is still the best cover corner available, and Washington would be decimated at the position without him. You take the Good-D-Hall moments with the MeAngelo ones. That’s all there is to it.
I know it was just the opener. But if the Pack tunes up Washington in Green Bay on Sunday, this season could get away from RGIII and friends quickly.
Legitimate concern. Not that the season is done by any stretch if the Packers win, but the lofty goals of an organization with real Lombardi Trophy aspirations are going to be much harder to meet going forward. Falling to 0-2 would mean Washington would need to beat a pretty decent Detroit team at home the following week. If not, it would have to try to become just the fourth team since 1990 to rebound from an 0-3 start to make the NFL playoffs. (Hasn’t happened since the Bills in ’98). Running the table late was electrifying a year ago, but that kind of run also can create a false sense of security for a team that needs to learn to play ahead in the standings instead of from behind.
Monday night’s loss was worse than 2010’s 59-28 whupping because we were told Griffin was all better, this team would blow a rookie coach such as Chip Kelly out and this was now Washington’s time.
Distorted reality. Look, the expectations were greater, but that game was essentially the end for Shanahan’s first forgettable, Donovan-didn’t-work season. This was more of an RGIII-ality check. He is not . . . risen — yet. Give him and the knee some time to catch up to his cocksureness. This is not the end of anything. This is the start of taking your medicine for deciding not to play the starting quarterback a down in the preseason.
It was a wise decision that should not be second-guessed today. The offense hung the defense out to dry by leaving it on the field too long and too early. Now comes the real work: finding the soul of the team that reeled off seven straight at the end of last season.
The tour groups still come through here by the bus load, and one paused Wednesday morning outside the doors to Lambeau Field’s massive atrium, just in front of the statues of Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi. A guide spoke over a microphone, regaling the photo-snapping legions with tales of what happened once, long ago, right here to their beloved Green Bay Packers. It was why these people came to an empty football stadium midweek, and they stood, rapt.
Inside, there were more mundane, if more pressing, matters. “I’m not here to talk about what happened,” defensive end B.J. Raji said. “I’m moving on.” As it prepares to face Washington, Green Bay’s defense must improve quickly to meet expectations. .
It is a constant struggle here, where the fan base can’t separate itself from the Packers’ past, because the Packers’ past informs their expectations about the present. And currently, as Green Bay prepares to host Washington in its home opener Sunday, that present includes some significant worries, almost all of them on the defensive side of the ball.
The Packers endured an entire offseason of consternation over the 579 yards they yielded to San Francisco in an NFC semifinal playoff loss, then opened the season last Sunday against the 49ers and coughed up 494 more in losing again, 34-28. Only Baltimore, which was flummoxed by Denver’s Peyton Manning, allowed more yards during the NFL’s opening week.
So the questions for the Green Bay defense — questions that were part of the fabric of the 2011 season, when the Packers gave up more yards than any team in the NFL — returned this week in force. Fail to answer them against the Redskins, and they will linger longer, into autumn.
“It doesn’t matter what they say,” defensive end C.J. Wilson said. “We always worry about what we say on the inside, in the locker room. . . . We’re a defense that can do it. Coach told us before the season even started: We have to have an edge, a chip on our shoulder every game. No matter who says what, we’re going to go out there with a chip on our shoulder.”
The message inside the Lambeau locker room Wednesday was clear: Don’t think these Packers are those from two years ago, when they gave up 411.6 yards a game. They should not, either, be defined by their struggles against the 49ers, in which quarterback Colin Kaepernick initially ran past them (181 yards rushing in the playoff game) and then passed over them (412 yards last Sunday). This is a unit that tosses out the evidence and replaces it with confidence.
“We just believe in what we have,” veteran defensive lineman Ryan Pickett said. “We feel like we can be the number one defense in the league. That’s how we approach it.”
Part of that is because Green Bay is now fully transformed into a 3-4 scheme, a change initiated by Coach Mike McCarthy when he hired defensive coordinator Dom Capers before the 2009 season. Part is, too, because of the personnel, particularly in the front seven, where Clay Matthews is a disruptive linebacker and Raji the kind of space-eating lineman needed to anchor a 3-4. McCarthy used Wednesday as an opportunity to put the brakes on any defense-in-disarray talk.
“I thought that the defense’s approach to the last game, as far as the objectives — went out to stop the run, do those types of things — we addressed that,” McCarthy said. “We have to learn from what we did do wrong. But I think this unit’s clearly more in sync than we’ve been in prior years as far as coming out of training camp. I have a lot of confidence.”
But there are, as safety M.D. Jennings put it, “some technical issues” for Green Bay as the Redskins approach. In the offseason, the Packers put in time trying to figure out the read-option offense employed to some degree by both San Francisco and Washington, including a trip by defensive coordinator Dom Capers and his coaches to Texas A&M to pick the mind of Aggies Coach Kevin Sumlin, who has both used and defended the offense at the college level. Though the Packers would open the season against two NFC playoff teams from 2012, led by two of the league’s most dynamic young stars, it provided focus.
“It was kind of a gift,” Raji said. “We don’t really know what Washington’s doing, but going into the season, we’re thinking, ‘Two option teams, get them out of the way Week 1 and Week 2, that’s better than seeing them Week 8 and Week 9.’ We looked at it as a positive.”
Then a couple things happened that put a kink in that outlook. In the San Francisco game, Kaepernick showed he didn’t have to run to be successful; only Dallas and Baltimore gave up more passing yards than Green Bay in the opening week. And after the Redskins’ season-opening loss to Philadelphia, in which Washington fell behind 33-7 and had to pass to catch up, there is considerable question about how much quarterback Robert Griffin III will be able to execute the running portion of the offense as he eases his way back from offseason knee surgery.
The Packers, too, are stressed by a hamstring injury to starting safety Morgan Burnett, who sat out against San Francisco, which used tight end Vernon Davis to control the middle of the field against Jennings and Jerron McMillian. Green Bay failed to come up with a turnover.
“We’ve got to make more plays in the passing game,” Capers told reporters here Monday.
One game doesn’t make a defense, nor does it make a franchise. As the tour group listened to the lecture Wednesday morning — “Lombardi left for Washington, and he turned around Washington in one year,” the guide said — the work inside Lambeau Field went on. By Sunday, when the Packers take that field for the first time this year, the temperatures will feel like fall in the Midwest, the season will start in earnest, and the expectations for the beloved Packers — and their defense — will be the same as they always are.
1. Which Redskins’ offense will we see: the ineffective one from the first half vs. Philadelphia or the improved one from the second half?
No question Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was shaky on Monday night early. His team had three turnovers by the end of the first quarter. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan called Griffin’s footwork “up and down.” That’s not going to cut it. But he needs help from his teammates, too. By the second half Griffin had found his rhythm.
2. Can Washington account for Packers linebacker Clay Matthews?
One of the top linebackers in the NFL with a relentless motor who can wreak havoc on an offense. Matthews had seven tackles and a sack in the Week 1 loss to San Francisco. The problem? You don’t always know how the Packers will employ Matthews. He usually lines up on the offense’s left side. But he’s also in a 3-4 defense. Green Bay has options.
3. Will playing on the road at Lambeau Field have a negative affect?
Few venues in American sports have more history or a better crowd. As former Green Bay linebacker and current Redskin Nick Barnett said, the opposing bus rolls through farms and small suburbs and then — boom — a massive stadium and 70,000 hostile fans. Friday’s entire Redskins practice will feature crowd noise pumped in to help prepare the team for the lion’s den.
4. Does Green Bay’s offense have a new dimension with rookie running back Eddie Lacy?
Several Washington defensive players mentioned Lacy, a second-round draft pick out of Alabama who had a nice preseason and 41 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut on Sunday. More of a bruiser at 5-foot-10, 230 pounds, Lacy did fumble once against the 49ers. His presence makes an already dangerous Packers offense more balanced.
5. How do the Redskins stop Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers?
Rodgers is the focus, an MVP candidate and one of the league’s best quarterbacks. Green Bay runs a far more conventional offense than Philadelphia did on Monday. But the Redskins better give him multiple looks or he’ll pick their defense apart with one of the league’s best arms and the legs to make a play when things break down.
One of the funnest games to watch and the edge goes to Green bay at home. Packers looked good against SF, while the Redskins proved they have yet to put it altogether. It won't happen against Green Bay on a short week.