2012-13 Wild Card Previews: Seahawks @ Redskins
This battle between two of the hottest rookie QBs in the NFL could easily be one of the best games of the playoffs.
When & Where: Monday, 7th Janurary, at Fed Ex Field, MD.
Coverage: LIVE 8:30AM AEST on Foxtel ESPN & One HD (Free-to-air).
This is a dream matchup for anybody who loves mobile quarterbacks and punishing run games, but the most significant factor may be the geographical location.
The Seattle Seahawks (11-5) have been famous for playing their best at home but struggling on the road. This may not be completly fair, but the numbers don’t lie: the Seahawks went 3-5 on the road in 2012 (each loss decided by seven points or less) but were undefeated at home. They’ll need to work out a way to win high-pressure games away from Century Link Field as their road to the Super Bowl almost gaurantees they’ll play away every game.
Aside from the uncanny mobile ability and awareness of QB Russell Wilson, the Seahawks’ greatest assets may be his supporting cast. Seattle boasts the 4th best defence in the NFL only allowing an average of 203.1 passing yards and 103.1 rushing yards per game, alongside the best points-per-game defence (15.3). This is in no small part due to that dangerous secondary including Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Brandon Browner.
The Seahawks also have an effective rushing attack behind Marshawn Lynch. Lynch has had the best season of his career rushing for 1590 yards and 11 touchdowns and was the focal point of the offence for the majority of the season. During his tenure in the Pacific Northwest ‘Beast Mode’ has provided the Seahawks with a reliable, every-down back, perfect for a team developing at the quaterback position.
The Washington Redskins (10-6) have performed well at home recently and after losing three of their four matchups they have won their last four home games. The Redskins are currently riding a seven-game win streak, the second longest streak in the NFL (behind the Denver Broncos at 11).
The biggest question surrounding the Redskins conerns the health of their star QB. Robert Griffin III has clearly looked hampered by his injury in his last two games, showing none of the burst that made him so dangerous early in the year. While his arm is fine and the read-option scheme is still effective, his ability to scramble out of pressure may be limited, something he’ll certainly have to do against a dangerous Seahawks defensive line.
Like Wilson, Griffin has some help from his supporting cast, namely runningback Alfred Morris. Morris, a rookie, has put up the second highest rushing totals in the league (after Adrian Peterson) on the back of his 200-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Dallas Cowboys. While Griffin has been limited due to his injury, Morris has stepped up having his workload increase during December.
The return of Pierre Garcon from injury has also helped Griffin and the Redskins’ offence greatly. Garcon’s playmaking ability after the catch has given the quarterback a reliable target and big-play threat.
The big story surrounding this matchup will undoubetly be the two rookie QBs who have in their own way changed the way we think about the position. Both are mobile, strong-armed and capable of of making plays with their legs. Griffin has brought college-style option plays to the NFL and Russell Wilson has proven you don’t need to be 6-foot-enourmous to display great awareness in the pocket.
Watch out for: Rediculous plays in, around, and outside the pocket. Both QBs are terrific at avoiding pressure and moving around the backfield. Expect both defences to give them plenty of reasons to do so and pletny of exciting plays as a result.
Final word and prediction: While both teams have dynamic QBs and strong rushing attacks, the Seattle defence is clearly at an elite level. Their ability to limit RG3′s options will be essential to the Seahawks’ chances. I pick Seattle to win it 28-24.