Posts about Green Bay Packers

Looking back at the NFL’s Wild Card weekend

For a second, things seemed very bleak for me. After the Colts managed a ridiculous comeback to get my picks going in the right direction, things went south very quickly for me. Unconventional things started happening and all of a sudden I was fighting just to stay above .500 for the weekend. San Francisco made sure of that with their win but then I began to think. I have no rooting interest since the Cowboys aren’t participating but i’m still a fan of football and i’m still a fan of great games mixed with exciting finishes. And that’s what we got this weekend. Aside from San Diego’s semi-dominant victory over the Bengals, the other three games were decided by a total of six points. What more could a football fan ask for? Let’s start in chronological order:

There’s one obvious question to ask here: was it a Chiefs meltdown or a Colts comeback? It’s always going to be impossible to predict 100% whether it was one or the other but watching the game, it felt more like an Indianapolis comeback than it did a Kansas City meltdown. We’ve seen all season long that Andrew Luck and co are a second half team. Known for their notoriously slow starts, but somehow still managing to be at their best when it matters most. It’s all led by Luck, of course, who continues to be so impressive in his infant career. Sure, the Colts caught some breaks but despite Luck’s three interceptions, they managed to fight back from a 38-10 deficit in the 3rd quarter. Things bounced their way the entire second half, literally. And to be quite honest, I’m still not sure how the Chiefs were able to amount such a large lead. It seemed like every other play, starting with Jamal Charles, a different Chiefs player was going down injured. Play calling, time management and injuries were all deciding factors for the Chiefs.

Saturday night continued to have surprising results. The game had the Saints in Philadelphia and while it didn’t have the scoring barrage that the previous game did, it was still just as entertaining and captivating. More of a classic, grind-out playoff style game that included four lead changes. What’s more surprising: that the Saints won a playoff game on the road or that they used a potent running game mixed with solid defense to do so? Normally the Eagles don’t get out-played on the ground seeing that they have LeSean McCoy, the rushing title champion for this season. It felt like the Eagles start was just a little too slow. Even though they managed to take lead after being down 20-7 in the 3rd quarter, it seemed to take everything they had to do so. The Saints countered with a nice return and drive to set up a game winning field goal as time expired. The Saints win a playoff game on the road, without hero-ball from Drew Brees. What could be more surprising than that?

It’s certainly not Andy Dalton’s multiple interceptions in a playoff game. Dalton had plenty of yards against the Chargers but his three turnovers (all in the second half) haunted the Bengals as they were trying to rally for pretty much the entire second half. Just like the Saints, San Diego used a strong running game along with some strong pressure defense to anchor their road playoff win. Do people realize that Phillip Rivers only completed 12 passes for 128 yards during yesterday’s game? That’s not to say that Rivers wasn’t impressive. When he was needed, number 17 on the Chargers make some crisp passes to his multiple weapons. Quick shout out to Danny Woodhead (pictured above) who might be my favorite non-Cowboys player. For the Cincinnati, it’s another season without a win in the postseason and another bad performance by Andy Dalton. It’s scary to say but the Chargers are showing all the signs of three previous Super Bowl winners as they head into Denver this weekend.

The most anticipated game of the season lived up to the hype. Was yesterday’s game between the 49ers and Packers the coldest postseason game in recent memory? The only other one that comes to mind is the Giants-Packers game back in the 07 season. To sum up yesterday’s game: Aaron Rodgers won the battle but Colin Kaepernick won the war. Of course both QBs had a good team performance surrounding them but #12 and #7 were both part of the two most impressive plays that we’ve seen in the playoffs so far. Rodgers’ escape was mind-boggling but Kaepernick’s clutch run pretty much sealed the win for the Niners. In all honesty, I wish I could watch that game again. It was slow at times but freezing weather does that. It looked like the 49ers were going to dominate because their defense wasn’t letting Green Bay do anything but the Packers responded nicely. From there it was both teams trading punches with neither ever leading by more than one score. Great game to end a great weekend of NFL playoff football.

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Previewing the NFL Playoffs Wild Card weekend

 

For most of the worldWild-card playoffs: Nick Foles, Aaron Rodgers, Jamaal Charles, Andy DaltonThe the holiday season has officially ended. The clock struck midnight at the respective time zone and just like that, New Year’s was over and back to the real world. Not so much for NFL fans because this weekend starts the biggest celebration of the season that culminates with Super Bowl XLVII. Even though the SB seems like an eternity away, for teams beginning their journey this weekend, it’s only three wins away. But will any of these teams be participating in the biggest game of the season? Recent history says so: the last three Super Bowl winners all begun their title runs in the wild card round. First we have to see who comes out on top this weekend. Jay Cutler contract jokes aside, of course.

Chiefs at Colts (Sat 4:15 ET): Normally the least interesting game of the four gets this spot. Sure, it might get the lowest ratings but that doesn’t mean the game won’t be good. These teams faced each other just two weeks ago in Kansas City and in all honesty, the Colts gave the Chiefs a good old fashioned  ass-kicking. There’s nothing to indicate that this time around, with the game in Indianapolis, that the result will be any different. The Colts are playing good football right now, winners of three straight led by some stellar play by Andrew Luck. The Chiefs have been surprisingly bad as of late, losing a couple in a row and overall since their by week, they’re only won two games out of seven. Oh yeah, those two wins came against Washington and Oakland. In fact the only playoff team the Chiefs beat this season were the Eagles back in mid-September. Do the Chiefs have the talent and coaching to win the game? Certainly but i’m going with the hotter team and the better QB. Colts edge out the Chiefs.

Saints at Eagles (Sat 8:10 ET): This was the toughest game for me to figure out. And in to be frank, i’m still hesitant to try and predict what’s going to happen. The Eagles and Saints have some of the most prolific and high-scoring offenses in the entire league. Which one will reign supreme? If you go by the way their last game was played, the edge goes to the Saints because they looked unbeatable. Then again, it was against the Buccaneers. The Eagles beat the Cowboys (better than TB) on the road but Dallas had Kyle Orton as their starting QB. My biggest problem with taking the Saints is how shaky they’ve looked on the road all season long. New Orleans’ last non-dome road win was against the Bears back in mid-October. The Eagles on the other hand, have won four straight at home and every win has been impressive. It’s probably going to come down to which offense gets going first and sets the tempo. The Eagles are just better at home than the Saints are on the road. Eagles advance to the next round.

Chargers at Bengals (Sun 1:05 ET): Sunday starts off with a match up between two of the hottest teams in the conference and the league in general. The Chargers were a bit hotter (or luckier, if you will) as they finished the season winning four straight while catching all sorts of breaks. Is it better to be good or lucky in the NFL? Well as much as the Chargers have had fortunes go their way, Cincinnati was no stranger to the football bouncing their way. The Bengals’ offense, despite some erratic play for Andy Dalton, has been on fire as of late. The Chargers offense on the other hand, changes from game to game and at times, can feel downright frustrating. San Diego has the talent and the better QB to win game. The Chargers also have all the momentum in their favor, a sign of success in recent years during the playoffs. One thing sticks out at me though: the Bengals did not lose a home game this season. Is this where the Bengals end their drought of playoff wins? I think so. Bengals get a close victory over the Chargers.

49ers at Packers (Sun 4:40 ET): It’s hard to see how this isn’t the biggest game of the weekend. These teams have faced each other three times in less than a year and while the Niners have come out on top all three times, it’s been very fun to watch. How much will the weather affect this game? Right now the weather is predicted as a high of ZERO degrees. Both teams have a strong running game that will likely be in full display because of the conditions. Aaron Rodgers is back but is he back to his championship-level form? His first half back was rusty but some of the plays that Rodgers made in the second half indicate that he’s nearly back to his 100% form. The Packers will need a big performance from their offensive weapons if they hope to change the recent trend of San Francisco victories. The 49ers are winners of six straight and Colin Kaepernick seems to be a good groove. Remember, Kaepernick has looked like the best football player of all time when facing the Packers. 49ers win a hard fought game in Green Bay.

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Leftovers from Thanksgiving Day’s slate of NFL games

Oakland Raiders v Dallas Cowboys

It’s always a good day when we can enjoy lots of Thanksgiving food (whatever time every person does it) while having football on the TV for the entire time. I don’t know if we hit the 12 hour mark last night but football fans were pretty close to have 12 straight hours of football. Minus the hour or so of pre-game and halftime shows. The day started off with the Lions and Packers, an NFC North rivalry that goes back a long time but just doesn’t have the same impact without Aaron Rodgers. Back up Matt Flynn was over matched the entire game, sacked 7 times while only throwing 139 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. Credit to the Lions defense as well because they had as big of an impact on this game as some of the best defenses in the league. On offense everything was clicking with Detroit, from top to bottom. Matt Stafford had a couple of turnovers to begin the game (one going back for a score) but towards the end of the second quarter, everything was smooth sailing for the Lions. Megatron was Megatron and their combo running game of Reggie Bush and Joique Bell really brought the offense to another level, much more balanced. Not that anyone felt different but every week confirms that Aaron Rodgers means more to the Packers success than probably any other team in the league. Right now it’s uncertain if he’ll return next week. Now the Lions are back in the driver’s seat for the division as they await this Sunday’s results.

Our second helping of the day featured an odd game between the Cowboys and Raiders. It’s odd because on the very first play of the game the Raiders caused a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. So we’re 12 seconds into the game and the Raiders are up by a touchdown. Things continued to favor the Raiders for rest of the half, doing all the right things on offense. Sure, the Cowboys defense is among the worst of the league but it’s not like the Raiders offense had been lighting it up. At halftime the teams completely switched and the Cowboys nearly dominated the second half from start to finish. The Raiders made things interesting late in the game by getting within one score but without any of their timeouts, it was difficult for Oakland to get the plays they needed. DeMarco Murray led the way in terms of stats (3 rush TDs) but it was a combination of different players on the Cowboys offense that engineered their drives. The Raiders on the other hand didn’t do well against the Cowboys halftime adjustments, showing little signs of what they had done in the first half. Another bad season for the Raiders as they look at making changes and the coming draft. The Cowboys, like the Lions, take hold of the division lead as they await results. Quick shout out to Selena Gomez for looking good during the halftime show.

Things wrapped up in Baltimore with the heated rival Pittsburgh Steelers in town. Normally this is a must watch for any football fan but this season the teams aren’t doing as well as we’re used to. Did they still provide from of the same hard-hitting entertainment? There were some big hits to go with a few scuffles but there were also a lot of odd occurrences. The game came down to an unsuccessful two-point conversion but from the botched field goal to Mike Tomlin’s on the field interference, it was a weird game. But a win is a win and for Baltimore, it keeps them alive in the heated race for the second wild card spot in the conference. All the white keeping the pressure on the Bengals, who are in San Diego this weekend, for the division lead. It was maddening to watch how long it took Pittsburgh to get some offense going, not being able to find the scoreboard until halfway through the 3rd quarter. An offense that looked so good the past couple of weeks sputtered out of the gate and played catch up the entire game. It’s not the type of game that the Steelers want to play when they’re fighting to stay alive for a spot in the postseason. On a side note, the league is looking into Tomlin’s interference on that kick return.

Anyone else riding the Buccaneers (-8) in Carolina this weekend? The Panthers are on a big streak right now but it’s not a streak where they blow teams out as of late. This is a completely different Bucs team from the one the Panthers beat handily about a month ago. The Bucs are playing solid football and I see them keeping it close in Carolina on Sunday.

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Bears hold off Packers; what the Rodgers injury means for the NFC

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It’s hard for the Bears to win at Lambeau. Especially when they’re missing starting QB Jay Cutler in one of the biggest division games of this season. But on the very first drive of the game, the Packers felt what Bears fans were feeling just a couple of weeks ago as their own starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down. Rodgers appeared to suffer a shoulder injury but the extent of the injury wasn’t known right away. Rodgers goes into the lockeroom as the Packers take an early 3-0 lead. Chicago responded well with McCown behind center, who was in his first ever start for the Bears as he led Chicago to a nice drive that resulted in a TD pass to big-time wideout Brandon Marshall. So enter back up QB Seneca Wallace (he’s still in the league?) for the Packers. Green Bay actually did a pretty good in limiting what Wallace did because lucky for them, RB Eddie Lacy is the type of running back that can handle a heavy work load. Packers answer with a TD of their own but the 2nd quarter was all Chicago. Despite both teams being plagued by multiple injuries, it was a solid game throughout. The Packers answered in the 3rd quarter and Chicago re-took the lead with a couple of minutes left in the 3rd. From there the Bears were able to get enough pressure on Wallace and limit Lacy from getting anything too crazy. Turn to Matt Forte, who never gets enough credit, as he was able to get good run after good run to keep the clock moving. Once the Bears took a TD lead with just over a minute left in the game, it was too late for the Packers to do anything.

Aaron Rodgers did return in the 3rd quarter but it was in sweats and only to stand on the sidelines to watch while his team fell into a 3-way tie for the division lead. Right now, my multiple sources (Twitter) have informed me that Rodgers suffered an injury to his collarbone and is set to be out for 3 weeks but more tests will be done this week. The injury to Rodgers not only affects the Packers and their division but also the NFC playoff race. In just one loss, the Packers go from a #3 seed (home field in first playoff game) to being in 8th place in the conference overall. Yes, they’re tied with Chicago and Carolina based on records but they lose tie breakers to both teams. The Lions and Bears play for the division lead next week so that’s a massive game. Social media has already pointed this out but i’ll repeat it: Matt Flynn anyone? I’m pretty sure most Packers fans don’t like the idea of continuing with Seneca Wallace while Rodgers heals up. It’s going to be very interesting because before yesterday’s game, the Packers were one of the hottest teams in the league looking to secure a division title. Now? They’re just hoping that they can get a wild card position in playoff race that gets tighter by the day.

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More surprises and more close games in NFL’s second Sunday

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As usual, the first Sunday had people jumping to conclusions left and right. Teams are too hyped up, losses feel like the end of the world and most notably, they affect how everyone predicts week 2 of the NFL season. It’s probably the hardest weekend to prepare for and that’s why the second week of the season brings so many surprising results. I have to say, I did see the Dolphins-Colts game going that way and I almost nailed the Titans pick as well. But aside from Arizona handling Detroit and the 49ers completely face-planting in Seattle, the game that surprised me the most was the Chargers and Eagles. Fresh off their Monday night meltdown, the Chargers basically turned the table on the Eagles. San Diego was able to control the ball and the clock, keeping the Eagles offense that dazzled everyone last week off the field. The Eagles offensive weapons (Vick, McCoy, Jackson) all had nice games but their defense wasn’t able to control Philip Rivers and the rest of the Chargers offense. Who knows, maybe the Chargers are a solid team and their meltdown was just a prime time anomaly. Along with the Chargers, I was most impressed by the Packers, Broncos, Bears and Seahawks.

So while I feel that Aaron Rodgers had the best performance of the day (34-42, 480 yds, 4 TDs) there were some teams that were not so impressive. We’ll begin with the team that Rodgers beat handily, the Washington Redskins. Not being able to score until 4 minutes left in the 3rd quarter? That’s signs of a team that doesn’t know what they’re doing on offense and are not on the same page. Which is weird to say because offense shouldn’t be that big of a problem when you have a young star like RG3 at quarterback. Despite only loosing by 2 points, I thought the Bucs looked very underwhelming and as a matter of fact, that game was very boring to watch. It wasn’t on the level of Raiders-Jaguars (felt like every other play was a punt with them) but I figured it would be better. At least from the Saints on offense because Drew Brees with only 1 TD pass is very weird. I know the Jaguars are the clear favorite for worst team in the league but the Panthers are very frustrating to watch, especially when they’re trying to close out a game with the lead. Yes, I loved EJ Manuel leading a game winning drive. It was exciting to watch but the Panthers can’t let a rookie QB beat you like that.

Tonight’s edition of Monday Night Football has the Steelers in Cincinnati to take on the Bengals. The Steelers looked REALLY bad last week and we’ll have to see how much the injuries they suffered will affect them even further. Despite being 0-1, I’m expecting a big win from Cincy tonight as they play their first game on their home turf. I’m still on the Bengals wagon and believe they will win their division.

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Recapping an exciting playoff weekend in the NFL

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The first weekend of this year’s playoffs was mediocre but this past weekend the NFL gave fans some of the greatest football I’ve seen in a 48 hour span. The divisional round is thought of by most as the best weekend of the entire season and this weekend’s games certainly backed up that statement. Where do I even begin? We’ll start in chronological order.

Bal-Den: What was Manning thinking with that throw across his body late in the first overtime? I was the back up QB in middle school and even I know not to throw across your body into the middle of the field. But hey, he’s the future hall of fame NFL player so i’ll defer to him. After that interception, the Ravens were able to gain enough yardage to set up the game winning field goal in the second overtime period. Second overtime! How many times do we see “2OT” on the scoreboard in the NFL? It was actually kind of odd. I know Joe Flacco had that great (elite?) pass late in the game to seal the comeback but I gotta give some props to their RB Ray Rice. Rice secretly tore up the Denver defense, rushing for 131 yards and a TD on 30 carries. Incredible game with an incredible finish.

SF-GB: I’ll be the first to admit that I was a bit skeptical about how Colin Kaepernick would perform in his first playoff start but boy did he prove me wrong. Kaepernick bounced back from an early pick-6 in record breaking fashion to lead the 49ers in an impressive victory over the Packers. Kaepernick’s stat line (pass: 263 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT; rush: 181 yds, 2 TDs) doesn’t even do him justice as he out dueled Aaron Rodgers, a proven SB winner and one of the best QBs in the league. Credit to the 49ers defense who never let Rodgers get in sync, even after the Packers took an early lead from a play made on defense. I also have to give credit to the rest of the Niners rushing attack (Gore and co) who had the Packer defense confused the entire game. Damn, the Niners are a scary team.

Atl-Sea: Another wild finish that I did not see coming. Seattle certainly had a chance to win the game after an incredible comeback but Atlanta’s big plays late in the game were the deciding factor. The Falcons finally broke their streak of recent playoff losses and even though I had the Seahawks winning the game, I actually felt good for the Falcons players. Particularly TE Tony Gonzalez, who broke down in tears after the clock expired. I have to ask about the 4th quarter: was it more Falcons meltdown or a Seahawks comeback? It was incredible to watch Russell Wilson lead the Seahawks to 21 unanswered points in the final period but it still wasn’t enough. Seems like there’s a bright future for Seattle but this season it’s the Falcons that are moving on.

NE-Hou: This game didn’t exactly live to the rest of the weekend’s games in terms of excitement but it was still impressive to see how much the Patriots dominated the Texans. Tom Brady broke the record for career playoff wins as he led the Patriots offense in a dominating victory over the Texans. Houston simply could not keep up with the Patriots offense, particularly in the second half. The Texans kept the game close through the first half but after the Patriots dominated the 3rd quarter it began to shape into a easy W for New England. Despite losing Gronkowski (for the season) during the first quarter, the Patriots offense continued to dominate but it’ll be interesting to see how the injury affects them going forward.

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Trying to figure out the NFC divisional round

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This side of the tournament was much more difficult to figure out. I could honestly see both games coming down to the final possession, whether it be a last second field goal or whatever, these games are going to be close. The Packers and 49ers played in the very first week of the season at Lambeau with the Niners dominating but both of these teams are clearly different squads. 49ers have a new starting QB and the Packers are led by a red-hot Aaron Rodgers. Down in Atlanta the momentum heavy Seahawks are looking to once again upset an opponent as the try and play spoiler to Atlanta’s party. Can Atlanta finally shed their playoff demons? There are lots of NFL fans around the country that believe Atlanta isn’t as good as it’s 13-3 record and don’t deserve the #1 seed. I can’t wait for these games to start.

Keys to each game: For the Packers, as usual, it’s going to be about how much Rodgers can carry the team on offense. Everyone knows that the Niners have an excellent defense so watch how Rodgers responds to pressure throughout the game. The Niners defense isn’t at full health so I want to see just how much pressure they actually get on Rodgers, anything to disrupt the Packers pass offense. How will Colin Kaepernick perform in the first playoff start of his career? Kaepernick’s mobility could be problem for the Packers but look for the Niners QB to find his favorite target, Crabtree, early and often. Also, both of these teams are facing issues with their kickers so watch out for that as well.

The Seahawks will have to use all of their momentum, especially on defense to stop the array of weapons that the Falcons can put on the field. Seattle is dealing with injuries at key positions on defense so it will have to be seen how much that affects the amount of pressure that is put on Matt Ryan. The biggest factor for the Falcons on offense will be how much seperation their elite receivers (Jones and White) can get against the Seahawks’ great corners. Things might get pretty intense on the sidelines with balls thrown deep. Both defenses are among the best in league in takeaways so a turnover is most likely going to result in a big play for the other team.

Prediction: I flipped back and forth between these two games, not knowing which teams to pick because I feel every single one of teams deserves to be in the NFC title game. Can Atlanta finally prove they can perform when it matters most? I’m taking Seattle and their momentum. Along with Wilson’s ability to win games from out of nowhere. Until I see Atlanta come through when it matters most, i’m hesitant to take them. Prove me wrong Falcons. As for the Packers-49ers game, everyone else’s guess is as good as mine. I think these teams are extremely close and either could take the victory. If I have to put my money on something, it’s going to be the better QB and that’s Rodgers. Packers win a very close game. Maybe we’re just destined to see a rematch of the “fail mary” to settle the score once and for all.

Enjoy the games everyone.

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Lingering questions, comments and concerns about the NFL’s wild-card weekend

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My initial plans were to post my comments yesterday, with the action from Sunday still fresh in my mind. Unfortunately, my body decided to get a flu sometime Friday night so I ended up watching the wild card games huddled in blankets. Now i’m back on track to 100% so I can post some thoughts that are still on my mind from Sunday’s games. Before I get to that, I know i’m not the first person to say that the games were a bit underwhelming as a whole. That changed Sunday so all is well that ends well.

How effective can the Texans be with Schaub? I picked the Bengals mostly because I thought the Texans were in a major rut, particularly at the QB position. Foster was much better (32 car, 140 yds, 1 TD) and defense was solid but even after all that, the Bengals still had a strong chance to win game at the end. Dalton and the Bengals weren’t able convert on 3rd down the entire game but it always felt like the Bengals were in. To Schaub’s credit, he did convert a nice pass to basically seal the game for Houston but how much further can they advance?

Are the Packers the scariest team in the NFC? Poor Adrian Peterson, I really feel bad that a RB of his caliber has to be stuck with such mediocre play at QB. The Packers threw absolutely everything at him, daring the Vikings pass game to keep up with the Packers and it ended up working for Green Bay. What surprised me the most about the Packers offense was how effective their running game was. The Packers used a Harris-Kuhn combo very well, particularly in the red zone to further open up the passing game of Aaron Rodgers and co. The result was Rodgers being able to find 10 different receivers. Scary.

Is Joe Flacco taking that next step? Flacco gets a lot of crap for calling himself “elite” and among the top quarterbacks in the league but he played very well against the Colts. It doesn’t hurt when his best receiver Boldin (145 yds, 1 TD) is able to catch any bomb that’s thrown his way. Yes, the Colts secondary isn’t known for shutting teams down but it’s the kind of game that any quarterback can use as momentum heading forward. Oh yeah, we get it Ray Lewis, it was your last home game. Stop dancing and save the energy for when you’re in Denver this weekend.

Should RG3 have kept playing? One of the hottest topics around the league yesterday and that was before it was being reported that he partially tore ligaments in a previously injured knee. The field was terrible and is part of blame but how much should land on head coach Shanahan and the rest of the Redskins staff? Chances are that this won’t be the only time RG3 is in the postseason so why would the Redskins risk a “do or die” playoff attitude right now? One of the biggest reasons people are questioning this decision not bench RG3 is because back up Kirk Cousins has shown the capability to lead them to a victory.

Ps. How great was it that Russell Wilson sprinted past Marshawn Lynch to block for him (pictured above) on the go ahead TD for the Seahawks?

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