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Five numbers that explain Kirk Cousins' hot streak

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Dilfer: Cousins has Pro Bowl potential (1:56)

Trent Dilfer thinks Redskins QB Kirk Cousins late season play shows he could be a Pro Bowl player in the future. (1:56)

ASHBURN, Va. -- Five numbers courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information that help illustrate Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins' success this season:

152.7: Cousins' passer rating in the first quarter in the past four games, during which the Redskins are 4-0. In that time, Cousins has completed 34-of-39 passes for 444 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. The Redskins have outscored opponents 48-7 in these games. The ability to play with a lead has been tremendous for Washington. A key Sunday against Green Bay will be what happens if the Redskins must play from behind. Those starts aren’t just attributable to Cousins; he uses his talent well but he’s executing at a high level. "As a play-caller, it is so much easier to call plays with a lead. When you're down 14-0 you become one-dimensional," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said.

7: Number of interception-free games Cousins has had since Week 7. Compare that to his first 14 NFL games when he had only four games without a pick. And in his first 20 games he threw two or more interceptions 10 times. He’s had none in his past 10 outings. Cousins had a penchant for being too aggressive on throws earlier in his career, and for trying to do too much. Other times it was simply misreading coverages or not using his eyes properly. The play design often gets receivers open, removing danger on many throws. Cousins has used his eyes better, maneuvering safeties or holding them in position and he reads defenses better and faster. He’s smarter about avoiding danger areas and has made far fewer panic throws. Perhaps it helps, too, that of their past nine opposing defenses, six rank 20th or lower in interceptions. Green Bay has intercepted 16 passes, ninth most in the NFL. Cousins will have another bad game at some point, and another multi-pick game; he’s not perfect and he’s been fortunate on some throws. But he’s improved in this area without a doubt.

105.9: Cousins’ passer rating when under duress in the past five games, putting him fifth in the NFL during this period. For the season, his passer rating under duress is 50.1, which ranks 29th in the NFL. Sunday’s opponent, Green Bay, does a good job against quarterbacks in this area. Opposing quarterbacks have the fifth worst passer rating and sixth worst total QBR while under duress against the Packers. Against Philadelphia, he led a late drive in the first half in part because he stood in as the pocket collapsed (leading to The Gaffe before the Half). And against Dallas, he connected on a 39-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon because of how he handled the pocket. Cousins used to get panicky under duress, but that has not been the case much of the season. He’s finding his weapons.

158.3: Cousins’ passer rating on first-down play-action passes since Week 12. It was 96.6 in the first 11 weeks. One reason for the upswing in this area: a stronger balance on first down. The Redskins had been run-heavy as they wanted to remain committed to the ground. But their run game wasn’t productive enough, especially on first down, so they tweaked their approach and, though still committed to the run, they are more willing to throw on first down. But their past tendencies have led teams to bite hard on play-action -- and they will sometimes quick-snap the ball to catch teams flat-footed on these plays. DeSean Jackson's presence matters greatly. Cousins has heavily targeted Jackson on this down with 14 of his 22 attempts in the past six games (Jackson sat out the finale). Cousins has completed 12 of those throws to Jackson for 285 yards and three touchdowns.

2.60: Average time before Cousins throws the ball since Week 8. It suggests a few things, notably that the protection has been solid, a function of proper line calls and good performance by the blockers. In turn, the Redskins want more shots, and Cousins has been more willing to stand in for downfield throws. It also buys time for excellent targets to get free: Cousins averaged 8.83 yards per attempt in the past eight games compared to 6.48 in the first eight). But it’s not just about having more time in the pocket. Last season, when given at least 2.5 seconds to throw, Redskins quarterbacks posted a 73.9 passer rating. This season, when receiving that much time, Cousins has an 86.8 rating for the season -- but it jumps to 105.6 in the past eight games. With tight end Jordan Reed and Jackson, the Redskins have two players who command extra attention. They can use that to their advantage, getting other targets free. When paired with play-action, it can be highly effective. But just know that of his past 20 touchdown passes, 15 were thrown in 2.4 seconds or less.