Here are three keys to victory for the Green Bay Packers in Week 14.
The Green Bay Packers are three wins away from the NFC North title.
That also means they can win the division without even needing to worry about their Week 16 game against the Minnesota Vikings. If the Packers defeat the Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions — three teams with a combined 12-23-1 record — they’ll be crowned division champions.
That starts this weekend against Washington. On paper, it’ll be considered an “easy” game for the Packers.
But here’s how they can avoid an upset.
3. Don’t overlook Washington
The Packers will be strong favorites on Sunday. But they can’t go in thinking the job is already done. The Redskins have won two in a row and have some momentum, and any team is capable of getting a win on their day in the NFL.
Green Bay has lost two of its past four games, and it needs to remember that. The Packers are a better team than the Redskins, but they’ll need to play at their best to get the win.
2. Win the turnover battle
No surprises here. In the three games the Redskins have won, they’ve won the turnover battle. If the Packers force more turnovers, Washington will be up against it trying to keep up.
Washington’s defense actually has 19 takeaways this season, which is the same number as Green Bay, tied for seventh in the NFL. They’ve made 13 interceptions, which is tied for third-best.
The good news for the Packers is that Aaron Rodgers has only thrown two interceptions this season. The Packers also enter this game with a turnover differential of plus-11, second-best in the NFL behind only the New England Patriots.
Green Bay has only given the ball away eight times, second-fewest in the NFL, compared to 17 times for Washington.
Winning the turnover battle will go a long way to getting the victory on Sunday.
1. Build a lead early, take away the run game
In the Redskins’ win against the Panthers last week, they ran the ball 30 times for 248 yards and three touchdowns, averaging over eight yards per carry. The Packers’ struggles defending the run have been well documented.
That becomes challenging when you’re down by multiple scores. At home with Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are capable of taking the game away from opponents in a hurry. A strong first quarter and an early 14-0 lead would put the Redskins behind the eight ball, and before long they’d have to abandon the run and throw to catch up.
And the moment the Redskins have to throw to win, they are in trouble. Washington ranks last in passing offense this season, and has an NFL-low 11 touchdown passes on the season, along with 11 interceptions. The Redskins have also allowed 40 sacks, which ties for seventh-most in the league.