By Mary Cunningham
Today’s Green Bay Packers-Washington Redskins Wild Card game at DC’s Fed-Ex Field could turn on this match-up:
Redskins TE Jordan Reed vs. Packers LB Clay Matthews
Reed (above) is the latest breakout tight end to confound defenses with a skill set befitting a wide receiver. At his position, he ranked second in catches (87) and fifth in receiving yards (952) while becoming Kirk Cousins’ favorite target.
Reed’s contributions ramped up as the Redskins pushed toward a playoff berth, as he recorded 29 catches for 378 yards and five touchdowns in the final four weeks. Though Kirk Cousins shouldn’t lock onto him with a deep stable of receivers available, Reed offers the best chance for exploiting the defense, especially in the red zone.
Green Bay has mostly kept opposing tight ends under wraps this season, handling Greg Olsen of the Carolina Panthers and Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys. But Matthews, along with cornerback Micah Hyde when Matthews rushes, will need to be hold their own against Reed with the defense needing help elsewhere.
Cornerback Sam Shields is out for the game, leaving fewer options for the Packers against DeSean Jackson and his fellow receivers. If Green Bay has to allot extra resources to any one target, Cousins could find big opportunities with his other pass catchers.