Here are five keys for the Redskins if they hope to pull an upset in Wisconsin.
Stop Aaron Rodgers
Good luck with that. Rodgers has thrown for 3,065 yards and 22 touchdowns and has been intercepted just twice in 12 games.
Last year, the Redskins sacked Rodgers four times and kept him off-balance in a 31-17 victory that remains their biggest win in the past two seasons. Their newly reconfigured young secondary has played well against lesser quarterbacks the past two weeks. Facing Rodgers will be a far greater challenge. The defensive front is going to have to get lots of pressure on the Packers quarterback and will need to force him into rare mistakes.
Run. Run. Run.
If Green Bay has a glaring weakness, it’s stopping the run. Just seven teams have given up more rushing yards than the Packers, who have allowed more than 100 yards on the ground in five of their past eight games, including 117 in a 37-8 loss to San Francisco two weeks ago.
In the Redskins’ victory at Carolina last Sunday, Derrius Guice had 129 yards and two touchdowns, and Adrian Peterson ran for 99 and a touchdown. Both players need to get going again in Green Bay, a place Peterson knows well from his years playing for Minnesota.
Let Dwayne Haskins Continue To Grow
The Redskins’ rookie quarterback gets a little better each week. Last Sunday, he threw for just 147 yards but was more efficient and appeared much more comfortable. If Washington can establish the run, Haskins can find opportunities for some big pass plays the way he did in Carolina. He and tight end Jeremy Sprinkle seem to be building a connection, which needs to continue.
Haskins was sacked five times, however, which continues to be a problem. The Packers have an aggressive pass rush, and the Redskins must do a better job of protecting their quarterback.
Don’t let the Smiths beat you
The Redskins let promising edge rusher Preston Smith go to Green Bay in free agency, and he has blossomed with 10½ sacks in 12 games. He never had more than eight in his four years in Washington. He’s also on pace for career highs in tackles and tackles for loss.
Linebacker Za’Darius Smith has 10 sacks as well. Most of the Packers’ pressure comes from these two. Haskins and his line will have to account for them and keep the sacks from piling up.
Win field position
Last week, Redskins punter Tress Way, often the team’s most effective player, was the NFC’s top special teams player. He consistently punted Washington out of deep holes, including one 79-yard punt that eventually wound up rolling into the Panthers’ end zone.
It’s hard to win field position games against a quarterback such as Rodgers, but Washington’s best hope is to run, run, run, then punt Green Bay deep into its territory and pressure Rodgers a lot.