Two teams heading in opposite directions will square off in the second NFC Wild Card Game on Sunday, as the Green Bay Packers (10-6) travel to Washington to face the NFC East champion Redskins (9-7). The Packers have lost two in a row both straight up and against the spread, while the Redskins are riding a four-game winning streak.
Point spread: The Redskins opened as 1.5-point favorites; the total was 47 early in the week, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).
NFL pick, via Odds Shark computer: 29.3-15.8 Redskins
Why the Packers can cover the spread
As long as quarterback Aaron Rodgers suits up for Green Bay, the team has a chance to win. That was the case in the regular-season finale versus the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC North title last Sunday night. Despite trailing 20-3 heading into the fourth quarter, Rodgers managed to rally the Packers, even though they ultimately ended with a 20-13 loss. He ended up throwing for nearly 300 yards after a slow start.
Washington has not been to the postseason in a while, last appearing three years ago and losing to the Seattle Seahawks 24-14 at home with Robert Griffin III under center. This is the seventh consecutive year for Green Bay in the playoffs. The last time the Packers opened on the road as a wild card, they went on to win the Super Bowl.
Why the Redskins can cover the spread
The Redskins simply need to keep doing what they did en route to winning the division and not get scared of the spotlight. They are an underrated defensive team that should be able to get past Green Bay's patchy offensive line and put pressure on Rodgers. They also have arguably the hottest quarterback in the NFL right now in Kirk Cousins.
Cousins came off the bench in relief of an injured RGIII when both were rookies against the Seahawks, and now he is undeniably the better player while emerging as an outstanding leader. His numbers at home this season were also phenomenal, as he completed nearly 75 percent of his passes there for 2,170 yards with 16 touchdowns and only two interceptions. In his last six games overall, three at home and three on the road, he had 14 touchdowns and one pick, with Washington winning five times.
The betting public may choose to side with Rodgers and the Packers here, but that is a big mistake. This is a much worse Green Bay team than in years past, with obvious weaknesses that the Redskins will exploit. Washington is the smart pick with the quarterback playing much better at the moment, so take the home team to advance.
The Packers are 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight games against the Redskins.
The Redskins are 0-5 ATS in their last five games as home favorites.
The Packers are 3-11-1 ATS in their last 15 games as underdogs.