Packers vs. Redskins: 5 Things to Watch and a Prediction

Losers of six of the last 10 games, the Green Bay Packers (10-6) are entering the 2015 NFL playoffs as the NFC’s No. 5 seed. No division title means Mike McCarthy’s club will travel to Washington to play the Redskins (9-7) for the Wild Card Round. 

Here are five things to watch and a prediction for Sunday’s playoff showdown:

1. Must Pressure Cousins

The Packers will get picked apart by Washington’s playmakers in the passing game if Green Bay can’t  provide consistent pressure on Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins. Like many at his position, pressure changes the way Cousins plays. When kept clean, he’s accurate and deadly in distributing the football to the likes of tight end Jordan Reed and receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. When the pocket is disrupted, Cousins makes mistakes and is far less efficient. With Sam Shields ruled out, the Packers must be capable of pressuring the quarterback to win. 

 

2. Who Covers Jordan Reed?

DeSean Jackson caught 10 passes over 20 yards, and 49 of Pierre Garcon’s 72 receptions were good for first downs or touchdowns, but Washington’s biggest difference maker is still tight end Jordan Reed. He led the Redskins in catches (87), yards (952), touchdowns (11) and catches over 20 yards (14). Over the last five games, Reed hauled in five of his 11 scores. Do the Packers have a player capable of containing him? Sacrificing Clay Matthews will hurt the pass-rush, and Micah Hyde might not be athletic enough to keep up. Dom Capers might have to get creative. 

 

3. Run to Win

Thanks to a passing game in shambles, the Packers are now an offense dependent on running the football. Luckily, only six teams allowed more rushing yards than the Redskins this season. Washington is also giving up 4.8 yards per carry, which ranked second to last in the NFL. The Packers need to win the battle up front and run the ball with Eddie Lacy and James Starks with some level of consistency, or the same ugly, punt-happy offense is going to show up again in Washington. It’s really that simple. There’s no more waiting for the passing game to finally wake up. 

 

4. Speaking of…

There are a million things wrong with the passing game, but one is particularly concerning: The re-programming of Aaron Rodgers. Thanks to receivers who can’t get open, a playbook incapable of adjusting and a banged up offensive line, Rodgers now doesn’t look comfortable throwing on time—even when receivers do find openings. He seems to anticipate having to make everything happen off a broken play, which often results in missed windows to throw the ball. It’s an understandable evolution given everything the offense has been through in 2015, but nothing is more troubling for a quarterback who set new career lows in all the important numbers this season. Can he suddenly snap out of it because the postseason is here? Seems unlikely. 

 

5. Pressure = Dust or Diamond?

The Packers are in the playoffs for the seventh straight year. A high percentage of these players were a few minutes away from playing for a Super Bowl this time last year. What happened? Everything about Green Bay’s 16 games in 2015 (and especially the last 10) suggest this club is set up for a short playoff run and another long offseason. No switch was flicked on last week, when a fifth straight division title was on the line at home. The postseason leaves a final test. Is this veteran team, with Aaron Rodgers and a good enough defense, really about to throw away another season? Everyone always talks about how legacies are crafted in the playoffs. This team still has an opportunity to re-write the book on an otherwise disappointing 2015 season. 

 

Prediction: Packers 23, Redskins 21

It is difficult to believe the Packers can go on the road and beat a playoff team with a hot quarterback. But if Green Bay can run the football and pressure Kirk Cousins with some consistency, advancing to the next round is completely possible, if not probable. 

Zach Kruse has contributed to CheeseheadTV since 2012. 

 

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Comments (68)

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Packer_Pete's picture

January 10, 2016 at 07:32 am

Wait, I thought the game was cancelled since the Packers already forfeited? At least that is what I get when I look at Twitter...

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Bryce Hansen's picture

January 10, 2016 at 01:34 pm

When's the game day blog going live?

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TommyG's picture

January 10, 2016 at 07:39 am

It's gonna be very close as our defense will not allow things to get out of hand, and they get pick six. 17-10 packers.

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TommyG's picture

January 10, 2016 at 09:59 am

That was my optimistic production. Here's my pessimistic prediction: we will not be able to cover Jordan Reed. Ryan can't cover him, or cover anybody for that matter. That means will have to use Matthews on Reed. Doing that equals zero pass rush and gives cousins all day to throw the ball down the field. The offense still fails to show up this week, and the Packers go down and whimper 24-0.

Typical heart versus head versus guy day for me today.

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dobber's picture

January 10, 2016 at 10:50 am

I think the Packers take their chances with Hyde or even Hayward on Reed.

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TommyG's picture

January 10, 2016 at 10:57 am

I'm hoping that's the case. We need CMIII rushing from every possible position.

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tm_inter's picture

January 10, 2016 at 01:40 pm

I trust Morgan Burnett covering Reed more than Hyde or Hayward. Jake Ryan is hopeless in coverage with his amazingly slow feet.

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MarkinMadison's picture

January 10, 2016 at 08:29 am

ESPN's stat boys say the Packers have a 53% chance of winning. The men in the desert say the Bountyhunters* have it, after thinking about it for a few days. I'm going with the men in the desert.

*In colonial times and up through Civil War times money was paid for indian scalps (redskins). In 1856 the State of California paid $ 0.25 per scalp. That would be $7.15 today, adjusted for inflation.

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Bearmeat's picture

January 10, 2016 at 08:38 am

Go team meteor at noon and GO PACK GO at 3!

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NickPerry's picture

January 10, 2016 at 09:39 am

I've said it several times and Zack pointed it out, the Redskins give up 4.8 YPC so the Packers MUST run the ball. Get the running game going maybe Rodgers looks more like Rodgers.

If the Packers win they play either Carolina or most likely Arizona. As STUPID as this will sound, I'd almost rather have the better draft pick than watch them play a rested Arizona Team again. If this team showed me anything the last few weeks I'd say they could flip a switch and go on a tear. The fact of the matter is I just don't trust them this year. I've lost all faith in McCarthy being able to adjust to ANYTHING.

My hope is this. All week we've heard the NFL commentators talk about the 11 other teams, NEVER about the Packers. Hell Rodgers isn't even talked about as a "Good QB" anymore let alone great. Perhaps Rodgers will find the "Giant Sized Chip" he played with before Olivia and lead the Packers for 16 quarters. Maybe the WR's catch everything, Starks holds on to the the ball, Lacy runs like he did last year, Adams plays like he did in TC, Janis and Abby are inserted in the line-up if Adams doesn't, and the Defense plays like they did much of the season.

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Tundraboy's picture

January 10, 2016 at 10:41 am

I have the same wish, otherwise they will be home doing their laundry as I like to say. This is definitely a year where we can't trust this team and having to trust MM will have them ready is a scary thought.
Let's go, they should all have a chip on their shoulder.

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NickPerry's picture

January 10, 2016 at 10:46 am

You know what scares me more Tundra? If MM were fired or resigned for example, who's better out there. Then again I said "Mike Who?" when McCarthy was signed in 2006

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dobber's picture

January 10, 2016 at 10:55 am

That's what I keep telling people who call for MMs head. Who is on the market and would be better? When your team is perennially in the upper echelon of NFL teams, there's a lot more room to move down than up.

They say GMs always have a "just in case" short list of coaching candidates. I would be curious to see TTs based on the fact that he pulled MM out of nowhere. Given TTs track record of eschewing free agency, I think many of the names people throw out (Gruden, Cowher, etc.) wouldn't want this job.

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TommyG's picture

January 10, 2016 at 11:00 am

I don't think MM should be fired for this season. Implementing major changes to a play book is just not plausible during the season. If next year looks just like this one perhaps then we can let MM know that he is on notice. Lay an egg again after that and he's gone. I think that takes us out to the end of his current contract anyway.

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PortlandMark's picture

January 10, 2016 at 12:39 pm

7 straight years in the playoffs is remarkable. MM leaves on his own terms. Look at NE and the stability that Belichick has given them. Sure they have more rings but look at those games and all of the breaks they got from fumble turning into an incomplete pass to last second field goals. I hope GB continues their run with MM for a long time.

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Tundraboy's picture

January 10, 2016 at 12:43 pm

No major changes needed. Playbook is big enough, just don't use it fully. I have seen lots of the plays used in past years only to get mothballed.

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Tundraboy's picture

January 10, 2016 at 12:54 pm

True but his Game coaching needs improvement. Results speak for themselves.

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Dan Stodola's picture

January 10, 2016 at 01:44 pm

You can not be seriously considering firing McCarthy.

This years team has been beset by injuries to key players. Franchise's #1 WR, its Shutdown CB, both OT and Pro bowl level OG!

With all that McCarthy has led the team to a 10-6 record and playoff appearance.

This all isn't even including his .659 winning %, 7 straight playoff appearances, 4 straight Division titles, and a Lombardi Trophy.

Not a chance in hell you find that successfull of a HC!

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CallingIt's picture

January 10, 2016 at 09:57 am

Game on! This is what its all about. You win, you live to fight another day, you lose you go play golf.

So what's it gonna be Pack? You fighters, or dead fish? You gonna do the pushing around today, or get pushed around? You gonna come back to work next week, or head home?

Talk time is over, its time to do.

Game on Pack!

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Ferrari Driver's picture

January 10, 2016 at 10:00 am

Two and a half decades of drafting in the bottom half of the annual NFL draft has left the team with a team with few difference makers.

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NickPerry's picture

January 10, 2016 at 10:42 am

I'm sorry but that's BS. Take a look at the Steelers draft picks, especially the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks, since 2010. Talk about Draft & Develop!!!! As I watched the Steelers last night, because I follow College Football and the Draft so closely, I couldn't help but notice what an amazing Job their GM has done. The Steelers are built the exact same way the Packers are, through the Draft. They add very few FA unless they have a glaring weakness, something Thompson refuses to do, weakness or not. Thompson has hit on a few, I mean he's bound to right? But for the most part the Pro bowl picks that were common from 2005 to 2009 are now GONE, no longer being picked by TT. They left with Schneider, then Dorsey, and finally McKinzie. Dont Believe me? Have a look yourself.

First the Steelers link below

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/pit/draft.htm

The Packers link below

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/gnb/draft.htm

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Dan Stodola's picture

January 10, 2016 at 09:44 pm

So a pass rusher like Peppers wasn't a glaring need? What about a shutdown CB like Woodson? Wasn't that a glaring need? Seems to me like he gets the "glaring needs" he sees, just not the kinda glaring needs you want him to see!

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lebowski's picture

January 10, 2016 at 11:22 am

this photo has Rodgers looking angry and Lacy looking fat. :)

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mollybs's picture

January 10, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Are the Packers smarter than we think? Where would YOU rather be playing - in 24 degrees below zero weather in MPLS - or 61 ABOVE in DC?

BRILLIANT BOYS!!!

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ben's picture

January 10, 2016 at 12:38 pm

The Viking's Fake 4th and 1 fake hardcount & timeout QB sneak !

I wasn't sure the Vikings were going to win the NFC North Title Game, just hoping and betting on it. But I was sure of one thing. The Packers were going to be outcoached.

I may have wanted the Vikings to loose that game and not play the Seahawks if it wasn't for NFC North Campionships being everybody's crutch argument here the past couple years when I point out how incredibly disappointing it has been being a Packer Fan for the Past 12 years. One serious choke job by ben rothlisberger in the big game and Packer fans are good for decades.

The past 12 years with the best player in football history, at what is now the most influential position in the history of team sports, could not have been more disappointing.

Get my posts together. You could right a book, "Dynasty Squandered"

If Peterson hangs onto the ball today, Vikings win and like I've been telling you for 6 months, the Vikings could win it all. The defense is for real, and finally healthy.

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ben's picture

January 10, 2016 at 12:48 pm

Redskins are over-rated.

Packers: 27
Redskins: 17

with Eddie, James, & Aaron over 200 yards in combined rushing.

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Tundraboy's picture

January 10, 2016 at 12:46 pm

Pretty harsh.

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Tundraboy's picture

January 10, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Deleted

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Dan Stodola's picture

January 10, 2016 at 09:46 pm

How do you like that Biotch?! Packers playing in the NFC divisional round and your viqueens sitting at home! Take that bitch! Traitor turncoat!

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Chris Pattee's picture

January 11, 2016 at 12:36 pm

The Vikings have and always will find a way to choke at the end.

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EdsLaces's picture

January 10, 2016 at 01:00 pm

If we don't see them change up the wrs and put Abby or Janis in there when Adams struggles again my tv might get cracked. Please just catch the fn ball guys!!!!!! Starks gets 90 yards we win 21 20!!! Go pack go! Happy 30th to my beautiful wife!

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ben's picture

January 10, 2016 at 01:40 pm

I've been a huge fan and proponent of Janis & Abby.

since before they were both drafted.

Part of the best WR draftclass the NFL will ever see.

And in spite of his decade long need at TE, MLB, S, & DT. TT uses his 2nd round pick on a Jarret Boykins clone who happens to be already under contract.

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ben's picture

January 10, 2016 at 01:55 pm

Oh yea..........Jeff Janis will be the greatest Wide Receiver in Packer History.

to bad he can't get on the field in spite of the fact he kills it every time he does ( except that 1 time in covering a punt this year against the Rams this year )

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tm_inter's picture

January 10, 2016 at 01:50 pm

It's about time the Packers use Janis' speed on running with the ball, short slants, screens, or handoffs in the backfield (instead of Cobb). Are the coaches just too lazy to design new plays or simply unimaginative?

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Oppy's picture

January 10, 2016 at 07:25 pm

Janis can't get out of the right side of the bed much less line up right. That's the FIRST problem.

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ben's picture

January 10, 2016 at 01:00 pm

I've seen a lot of players on punt return teams going for the ball after the kicking team attempts to "down" an unreturned kick.

Which I thought was commonly understood as stupid.

They all get away, but then, almost most times now, returning team's players swoop in and try to strip or grab the ball.

Is there some rule that once the kicking team touches the ball in attempt to down the ball the returning team can attempt try to advance the ball at no risk?

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Dan Stodola's picture

January 10, 2016 at 09:48 pm

If you had a clue, you wouldn't have to ask about the rule!

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Tundraboy's picture

January 10, 2016 at 01:25 pm

Can't believe I'm watching Seahawks /Vikings. I mean why. How does one watch this? Guess I'm waiting for that Meteor to hit.

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ben's picture

January 10, 2016 at 01:29 pm

Join the DarkSide Tundraboy

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DrealynWilliams's picture

January 10, 2016 at 01:57 pm

Because it's good Defensive football being played.

Now the Bears -- that's something different I don't care who they're playing or how they're playing -- I'm not watching them play anyone other than the Pack.

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Tundraboy's picture

January 10, 2016 at 02:09 pm

Did some chores went back to watching Game, Saw Sherman bitching and thought ok that settles it, want Seattle to lose. Then I said wait that means Vikes move on with Bridgewater. Aargh. Talk about no win situation.

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ben's picture

January 10, 2016 at 01:59 pm

The next decade is going to be great.

Bridge Water, McKinnon, & Diggs are the real deal.

Xavier Rhodes, Anthony Barr, Everson Griffen, Harrison Smith, Linval Joseph, Sharriff Floyd, Eric Kendricks.......All Special.

Daniel Hunter, Trae Waynes about to be

A top 4 defense for the next 1/2 decade

How much better would the packers defense be with Eric Kendricks at LB? Seriously would have gelled this defense, almost completing the defense freeing Clay to rush more from the outside. HUGE

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Bearmeat's picture

January 10, 2016 at 02:10 pm

Someone block this troll.

Ben - on your way out the door, be warned that NEVER in the modern era of the NFL has a team with an elite QB declined the way you are hoping GB continues to go. The latter half of this year was a fluke. ARod will not have another year like he's had in 2015. We own you fools and it's going to stay that way.

I'm going to laugh as your child beating hero gets old and you have no other offensive playmakers. And don't say Teddy Bridgewater. lol.

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ben's picture

January 10, 2016 at 02:26 pm

"that NEVER in the modern era of the NFL has a team with an elite QB declined the way you are hoping GB continues to go. "

Beautifully Said Bearmeat.
Bravo

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Bearmeat's picture

January 10, 2016 at 02:29 pm

12 years since what? A HOF caliber QB in the prime of his career overseeing a failing roster?

Um. No. Favre was NOT in the prime of his career. He played great in 07 and 09 until the expected playoff choke. But the prime of his career was clearly 95-04. He was 36 by 2005.

Aaron is 32. And he's a better athlete than Favre ever was. I think it's pretty clear that he'll be in top form for at least another 5 years.

But continue your delusions and excuses. They're entertaining. Classic Vikings fan.

PS: Nice edit job to admit my point AFTER you were owned.
PPS: Vikings always have been and always will be the red-headed step-child to the favored son. (That'd be the Packers btw)

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Tundraboy's picture

January 10, 2016 at 02:47 pm

Here is some good news. Vikings stupid horn cracked in the cold!

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dobber's picture

January 10, 2016 at 03:09 pm

What kind of doof talks smack like this BEFORE his team wins...oops, I mean, loses...

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DrealynWilliams's picture

January 10, 2016 at 02:26 pm

No,wait @Ben...

Let the game play out. Things are getting interesting now. HAHAHAHA!

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ben's picture

January 10, 2016 at 02:38 pm

Damn! like I said. "if Peterson hangs onto the ball."

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Dan Stodola's picture

January 10, 2016 at 09:55 pm

Chokin' like a bitch now aren't ya Bitch?! Just like you queens! CHOKE like a biotch w/ the game on the line!! Like always! Or don't you remember losing 4 SB games!

Cough, Cough, CHOKE, cough, cough!

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Tundraboy's picture

January 10, 2016 at 02:30 pm

Don't worry Bearmeat, Vikes are about to cough up the lead

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ben's picture

January 10, 2016 at 02:13 pm

instead TT goes with Sam Barrington, Nate Palmer, & Jack Ryan to resolve the decades long problem at MLB

sorry Aaron. You'll have to settle with being the best player ever, not the greatest.

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4thand10's picture

January 10, 2016 at 02:02 pm

Caught a little of the Vikings / Seahawks game...into 3rd quarter and Bridgewater /Wilson have 140 yards passing combined....

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Rossonero's picture

January 10, 2016 at 02:04 pm

My heart says Packers win, but my head says they don't. This team has far too many issues, coaching problems and injuries to overcome this late in the season. If Bakhtiari and Shields were playing I'd feel better, but since they're not, expect more of the same issues in protection and in coverage.

The only way they win is if Lacy and Starks each run wild. Skins run D stinks (ranked 26th). I've given up on the passing game.

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ben's picture

January 10, 2016 at 02:31 pm

reserved for ben

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4thand10's picture

January 10, 2016 at 02:07 pm

@Ben...week 11 GB beat that all star dream team. Convincingly. A health left tackle and we would have won last week. GB is a WR,TE away from continuing the winning ways.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

January 10, 2016 at 02:22 pm

Tretter starting at LT

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Bearmeat's picture

January 10, 2016 at 02:27 pm

SHIT

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DrealynWilliams's picture

January 10, 2016 at 02:35 pm

Right? But at least he has history there.

Better than Barclay or Sitton though.

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egbertsouse's picture

January 10, 2016 at 02:28 pm

Bahktiari has been ruled out for the game. As Dandy Don Meredith used to sing, "Turn out the lights, the party's over."

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4thand10's picture

January 10, 2016 at 02:32 pm

Didn't Tretter play LT in college?

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DrealynWilliams's picture

January 10, 2016 at 02:35 pm

Yes. There shouldn't be much of a panic with this announcement.

But this gives us more reason to run it often and run effectively. Hopefully, more up the gut and/or to the right.

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4thand10's picture

January 10, 2016 at 03:03 pm

Walsh misses the kick....I think I just tinkled myself a bit while laughing.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

January 10, 2016 at 03:28 pm

That holder was paid off. He had the laces in twice in that game.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

January 10, 2016 at 03:29 pm

Shout out to @Ben and those amazing Vikings!!!

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4thand10's picture

January 10, 2016 at 10:48 pm

I just can't give you enough "likes" for ^^^^^this man.

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ray nichkee's picture

January 10, 2016 at 08:35 pm

Ben needs a life. He should be on a queens site but he's here. Why?

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