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Cousins vs. Rodgers: Do the Redskins have the advantage at quarterback on Sunday?

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Cousins vs. Rodgers: Do the Redskins have the advantage at quarterback on Sunday?

Will the Redskins have an advantage at quarterback going into their wild card playoff game against the Packers on Sunday?

Two months ago, even a few weeks ago, it would have preposterous to suggest that Kirk Cousins could be considered the better player at quarterback in a postseason game than Aaron Rodgers. The Packers quarterback has a Super Bowl ring and is a two-time MVP. Kirk Cousins was expected to spend this season on the bench and after six games he had six touchdown passes and eight interceptions and it looked like he was running out of rope.

But as we sit here today, neither quarterback has followed expectations. Rodgers is having one of his worst statistical years. He is down from his career averages in nearly every major statistical category including completion percentage (60.7 in 2015, 65.1 career), net yards per pass attempt (5.7 in 2015, 7.0 career) and passer rating (92.7 in 2015, 104.1 career).

Cousins, meanwhile, posted some solid numbers, including the best completion percentage in the NFL (69.8) and top 10 performances in passer rating (101.6, fifth) and net yards per attempt (7.0, sixth).

Here are their numbers for the season:

Clearly, Cousins had a better season. But the difference between the two becomes even more pronounced in the “what have to done lately” department. After six games the Redskins were 2-4 and Cousins was struggling as noted above. The Packers were rolling at 6-0. Rodgers was completing 68.1 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and two interceptions with a rating of 115.9.

But since then, Cousins has been better, much better. Here are the stats for the two QB’s from games seven through 16:

It’s clearly and advantage to Cousins when we’re talking about the body of work in 2015 and the more recent games this year. But Rodgers does have an edge when it comes to postseason experience. He has started 11 playoff games and the Packers have won six of them. Cousins’ only postseason experience came in mop up duty after Robert Griffin III was injured against the Seahawks in 2012.

How much of an advantage is it for your quarterback to have more playoff experience than your opponent’s? Last year the team with the more playoff-experienced quarterback went 7-3 in the playoffs (in one game the two QB’s had played an equal number of playoff games going in). But in 2013 the more experienced quarterback was on the losing side in six of the 11 games.

What all of this boils down to is that it’s one game. If you did 50,000 computer simulations of the game, Cousins would probably come out having a better day than Rodgers most of the time. But they will play it once and you certainly can't rule out Rodgers catching fire for a game and pushing the Packers past the Redskins.

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins vs Eagles Preview: 5 things to know as Washington gets desperate

Redskins vs Eagles Preview: 5 things to know as Washington gets desperate

Losers of two straight games and for the first time in a month outside of the playoff picture, a desperate Redskins squad travels to Philadelphia for a 1 p.m. game on Sunday. All the action kicks off on CSN with Redskins Kickoff at noon, but to get ready for the action, here are five storylines to watch:

  1. Getting back to good, or at least decent - Two weeks ago the Redskins seemed like a dangerous playoff squad with a strong offense and an improving defense. After two straight losses where Joe Barry's defense has given up 62 total points, the questions are mounting for Washington. Can the defense get stops on 3rd down? Generate a turnover? The good news for the Redskins is that the Eagles are struggggggling. Their offense has not score more than 15 points in three straight weeks. 
  2. Feed the fat one - After giving Rob Kelley just 28 carries in the last two games, Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay owned up to the Redskins lack of run game, "I definitely feel like I could’ve been more patient on some of those early down and distances where you get a little bit pass-heavy. And that’s something that as a decision-maker and as a coordinator, I have to do a better job." In a Week 6 win Kelley and Matt Jones piled up more than 200 rush yards against the Eagles. The 'Skins offense likely won't feature Jones, but expect McVay to feed Fat Rob plenty on Sunday.
  3. Playing in pain - The Redskins offense features a number of dynamic playmaking threats, but arguably the best is tight end Jordan Reed. On Thanksgiving in Dallas, Reed separated his left shoulder, and though he finished that game he was forced out of action in Arizona. Expect Reed to be back Sunday, and expect Kirk Cousins to look for him early and often. On the season, Reed has more than 600 receiving yards and five TDs.
  4. If it ain't broke - Kirk Cousins has had more success against the Eagles than any other team in the NFC East. In four career games against Philly, COusins averages 336 yards per game passing to go with a 101.3 QB rating. He's thrown 10 touchdowns against the Eagles to just two interceptions. The biggest win of his career came last year when Cousins and the 'Skins clinched the NFC East title at Lincoln Financial Field. Cousins suceeds against the Eagles, and there's no reason it should stop Sunday. 
  5. Don't fly away - Rumors are starting to circulate that the Eagles would like to bring back DeSean Jackson next season. It's well known that Jackson will probably hit free agency after this season, and if Philly did pursuit their former playmaker, it would make sense. But between now and then, Jackson has another opportunity to torch his former team and help the Skins pursue a Wild Card bid at the same time. In his past two games, Jackson and COusins have connected on deep patterns, and there's little reason to tbink the same won't happen Sunday.

Numbers & Notes

  • If tight end Vernon Davis catches three passes he will become the 12th tight end in NFL history to record 500 career receptions.
  • With two more catches, wide receiver Jamison Crowder will set a single-season career high in receptions. He caught 59 passes in 2015.
  • If the Redskins win would mark five straight victories against the Eagles for the Redskins for the first time since a six-game winning streak in the series across the 1981-84 seasons.

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!