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NFL Preview - Washington (0-1) at Green Bay (0-1)
By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Contributing NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - OK, it's show of hands time.
Anyone who looked at the schedule and said, "Yes, either Green Bay or Washington will be winless after two weeks," please accept your congratulations. As for the rest of us, it'll be a bit jarring when 4 p.m. Sunday rolls around and one of these two 2012 NFC divisional champions is 0-2.
But that's exactly what'll happen three or so hours after the visiting Redskins head to Lambeau Field to meet the host Packers amid the Week 2 "must- win" hyperbole.
"You never want to start 0-2," Washington wide receiver Pierre Garcon said. "I know it's going to be loud, it's their home opener and we're looking forward to a good game."
Green Bay was lit up by San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick in its opener, in which the youngster threw for a career-best 412 yards and three scores while running for just 22 yards. Eight months earlier, the tattooed phenom went for 181 yards on the ground while single-handedly ending the Packers' postseason hopes in an NFC Divisional Playoff matchup.
"When you're playing a quarterback that has those kinds of talents and can move around and has a strong arm, you've got to be able to (stop both)," said Dom Capers, the Packers' beleaguered defensive coordinator. "We played one phase well, we didn't play the other phase well enough."
On the surface, Washington QB Robert Griffin III would appear to present similar challenges to Kaepernick, but the former Heisman winner and rookie sensation slogged through a desultory opener against Philadelphia -- throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble in the Redskins' surprising 33-27 loss on Monday night.
Griffin ran for a QB-best 815 yards last season, but had offseason knee surgery and spent months hearing questions about whether the Washington brain trust was rushing him back too quickly.
After the loss to the Eagles, though, neither he nor coach Mike Shanahan would hear it.
"I'm responsible for the way I play," Griffin said. "You move on from it. I'm not going to sit here and say I was rusty. I've got to be accountable."
Shanahan spread the responsibility to the other 10 on offense as well.
"I don't critique players though the media," he said. "We didn't do the things offensively that we needed to do as a group."
Regardless, Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy had no qualms about discussing the issues raised by a threat like Griffin on the heels of a match with Kaepernick.
"(Griffin is) a mobile quarterback that has the ability to stretch the defense," McCarthy said. "He has the ability to make plays in space and he can make all the throws. In any Mike Shanahan offense, it starts with running the football."
Washington went to the playoffs thanks to a prodigious run game in 2012, when it gained a league-best 169.3 yards per week. Against the Eagles, however, the Redskins managed only 74 yards, led by 45 on 12 rushes from Alfred Morris.
In terms of pace, the Washington defense may see against Green Bay some of the same up-tempo attack that served the Eagles so well.
Aaron Rodgers threw for 333 yards and three TDs against the Niners, hitting Jordy Nelson and Reggie Cobb seven times each for a combined 238 yards. Second-round pick Eddie Lacy, the Alabama runner the Packers hope will revitalize their ground game, debuted with 41 yards on 14 rushes.
Green Bay had 63 rush yards as a team.
"It's one game, we lost, now we go back home," Rodgers said. "You want to look at the big picture but also address the things you did wrong. We're going to do that and be back."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The Packers were burned in Week 1 when a running quarterback stayed in the pocket and riddled them for 412 passing yards. The Redskins have the tools to approach those gaudy numbers with Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan on the outside, Morris out of the backfield and Fred Davis at tight end.
Capers will have to force a rusty RG3 out of his comfort zone.
On the flip side, Philadelphia confounded the Redskins with the Chip Kelly Oregon-style attack, and, while the Packers might not reach that level of offensive plays, they're certainly capable of getting up and down the field quickly. Washington defensive backs DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson will be challenged, and Brian Orakpo will need to get his pass rush on to harass Rodgers.
The Packers have holes and the Redskins have holes. The problem for Washington, however, is that Green Bay has seemed just fine lately against teams not named San Francisco and quarterbacks not named Colin.
Unless Griffin suddenly looks a lot more comfortable in Week 2 than he did in Week 1, it would appear that he and his teammates are staring down a similar result.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Packers 30, Redskins 21
09/12 11:16:18 ET