Dwayne Haskins and the 3-9 Washington Redskins will travel to Lambeau Field this week to take on Aaron Rodgers and the 9-3 Packers in a game that will likely have a “get it over with” feel — with Washington leaning on the run until they fall multiple scores behind, and with the Packers unlikely to remain in aggressive attack mode once they have this game in hand. There are other ways this game could play out, of course (perhaps Washington scores one or two early touchdowns on the ground and is able to more fully control this game; perhaps Washington forces an early turnover and puts the Packers in a hole they have to dig out of; etc.), and on a week with so many ugly games and so little to like, it isn’t outlandish to play some of these alternate scenarios. As always, however, we will approach this game taking a look at what is likeliest to happen — and what is likeliest to happen allows us to make fairly clean work of this spot.
Since taking over under center, Haskins has pass attempt totals of 22 // 35 // 29 // 25, with a top yardage game on the season of 214 (and with 156 or fewer yards in every other outing). The Packers defense ranks 28th in DVOA against the run and 18th against the pass — allowing 4.92 yards per carry to running backs, while also allowing 9.7 yards per target to wide receivers. The matchup obviously tilts opponents toward the ground, but there is more to fear in the Redskins’ conservative, run-leaning tendencies than there is to fear in any aspect of this matchup.
For as long as the Redskins are able to justify doing so, we should expect them to lean on the run — roughly splitting work between Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson (with each player seeing roughly 1/3 of the Redskins’ snaps across the last two weeks, and with Guice posting touch totals since returning of 13 // 8 // 11 // 12, against touch totals for Peterson of 19 // 11 // 11 // 13). Each of these guys is a “bet on broken play or touchdown” option — or a “bet on outlier game flow” bet.
The Washington passing attack, meanwhile, has been a dead end for the last month and a half, with the best game from this group since Week 6 belonging to Terry McLaurin :: 5-72-0 on 12 targets against the Lions. If going here, you are obviously just chasing an unpredictable best-case scenario. The player “likeliest” to take advantage of such a scenario, of course, is McLaurin, who has recent target counts of 6 // 6 // 4 // 12 // 4. His likeliest range does not make him attractive, but he is talented enough that it won’t be “surprising” if we see at least one more strong game from him throughout the last quarter of the season.
As explored last week, the Redskins record has made them seem far more attackable as a defense than they really are, with this team ranked 19th in DVOA, 19th in yards allowed per game, and 21st in points allowed per game. Washington ranks 25th in opponent drive success rate, but 16th in opponent red zone touchdown rate, and they have allowed only three wide receivers to top 100 yards against them through the air (while Zeke is the only running back who has cracked the century mark on the ground). The Redskins are shaving 5% off the league-average aDOT and 5% off the league-average YAC/r, with the big bonus against them being a catch rate boost allowed in the shorter areas of the field (and previously, with additional paths to upside provided by the frequency with which Josh Norman was getting flamed deep before getting benched — a benching that carried over to Week 13, when he played only four snaps on defense).
While the matchup is not a boost for the Packers, it’s also not a major obstacle, with “blowout” a bigger concern than the matchup itself. This offense has become wonderfully compact of late, with targets among wide receivers since Davante Adams returned that look like this ::
Davante can win in any matchup, and this is — at worst — a middling matchup. He doesn’t pop off the page the way he did last week against the Giants, but his role and talent still give him value in this spot. Lazard is a “hope for broken play” option, while Allison and MVS are merely long-shot bets. Jimmy Graham also remains on the fringe of the offensive mix, with recent target counts of 4 // 3 // 2 // 1. If he happens to miss this week after failing to practice Wednesday, Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan will form a committee, with Jace Sternberger mixing in for a few snaps of his own.
The other pieces that truly matter on the Packers behind Davante, of course, are in the backfield — though unfortunately, this continues to be an upside-sapping split, with Aaron Jones seeing recent touch counts of 9 // 13 // 13 // 15 (reception totals of 1 // 0 // 0 // 4), and with Jamaal Williams going 8 // 13 // 18 // 14 (with reception totals of 6 // 0 // 7 // 4). Williams has had the more valuable role between the 20s, while Jones has tripled Williams in carries in the red zone and inside the 10. Each player is likeliest to see around 12 to 15 touches, with some chance for these to trickle upward in a blowout win, and with some outside potential for one or the other to see the usage tilt more heavily his direction in the small sample size of a single game.
JM’s Interpretation ::
This matchup would be a lot more attractive if Jay Gruden were still the head coach and Case Keenum were still under center for Washington, as that setup had the Redskins willing to allow Keenum to be an erratic gunslinger in their quest to keep pace with opponents — potentially opening an opportunity in this spot for an exciting, higher-scoring affair. With Callahan and Haskins, however, we are likeliest to see the Packers slowly pull away in this game, and then lean on a more conservative approach to close it out as Washington does the same until it is too late for them to actually catch up. With Washington carrying the lowest Vegas-implied total on the slate, this leaves all players on the visiting offense as nothing more than speculative, “hope for the best” plays.
The Packers, of course, should be expected to do well in this spot, though whether or not they are able to do well enough at their prices will at least somewhat depend on Washington’s ability to keep pace. Adams, Jones, and Williams all have a pretty solid shot at a pretty solid raw score, though some things will need to go right for real upside hit, while the prices on Jones and Adams turn them into less exciting pieces to get behind. All three of these guys are in the mix this week, though none jump off the page as plays that you can fire up and forget about from there.