NFC Wild Card games – Seattle Seahawks @ Washington Redskins

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This is the tie that virtually nobody expected at the start of the season.  In fact it’s safe to say  even the most optimistic of Seahawks fans wouldn’t have predicted that rookie Russell Wilson would become their starting Quarterback and lead them to a 5 game winning streak on their way to the play offs this season.  Wilson was drafted in the in the 3rd round as a 75th overall pick and was expected to backup Matt Flynn who signed as a free agent to a contract worth $26 million.  Flynn went on to complete 5 of the 9 passes he attempted this season and recorded -5 rushing yards in the 3 games during which he featured.

The Redskins have their own rookie quarterback who has set the league on fire, but as the overall first pick in the 2012 draft Robert Griffin III or RG3’s success was widely expected, having said that the Redskins were 10-1 outsiders to win the NFC East title before the regular season had started.  The Redskins have an even more impressive rookie on their offense in the form of running back Alfred Morris who last week broke the franchise record for running yards with 1,524 yards, breaking Clinton Portis’ 2005 mark of 1,516 yards.  Morris was drafted in the 6th round, so to even become a starter was a noteworthy achievement, to break a franchise record is astonishing.

Both teams have been running the “option” offence this season, which relies on the quarterback’s ability to read the defence and freeze pass rushers with play action passes or stretch plays, where the running back, or quarterback run to the outside of the oncoming defenders.  The Seahawks rushing offence is ranked 3rd in the league, averaging 4.8 yards per carry, 161.2 yards per game and scoring 16 touchdowns during the regular season.  They have however also fumbled 7 times and 3 of those fumbles.  Marshawn Lynch is predominantly their biggest threat and he recorded 1590 yards during the regular season at an average of 5 yards per carry, Russell Wilson had the second highest number of rushing yards with 489 at an average of 5.2 yards per carry and registering 4 touchdowns.  The Redskins rushing offence ended the regular season top of the rankings with 2709 yards, an average of 169.3 yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry, making 22 trips into the end zone.  Morris was obviously the epicentre of the Redskins rushing offence, but RG3 weighed in with an impressive 815 yards, averaging 6.8 yards per carry and scoring 7 touchdowns to add to Morris’ 13, the second most in the NFL.

Russell Wilson has a pass completion rate of 64.1% and has thrown for 3118 yards and 26 touchdowns with 10 interceptions; he has been sacked 33 times.  The Redskins defence has made an impressive 21 interceptions this season and recorded 32 sacks, their pass defence has been slightly boom or bust though and they have allowed 4511 yards this season, the 3rd most in the league. RG3 has an extraordinary similar pass completion rate of 65.6% and number of yards with 3200 yards combined with 20 touchdown passes and 5 interceptions, he was sacked 30 times.  The Seahawks pass defence has allowed just 3250 yards in the regular season, the 6th best record in the NFL with 18 interceptions and they have recorded 36 sacks.

With two such high calibre quarterbacks and similarly effective offences defence should be the key to this game.  The Seahawks have conceded 8 rushing touchdowns this season and on average allowed 103.1 yards per game they have however forced 8 fumbles, recovering 3 of them.  The Redskins have allowed 11 rushing touchdowns this season and on average of 95.8 yards per game, forcing 11 fumbles and recovering 4.

Both these teams are in excellent form, with the Seahawks having won their last 5 and the Redskins ending the regular season with a run of 7 wins.  The Seahawks have only won 3 games away from home this season and I think the deciding factor in this game should be home field advantage, while the Seahawks do play in an outside stadium and the weather in DC won’t be too dissimilar to Seattle, albeit slightly drier and a touch cooler, the grass field is vastly different to the turf that Seattle play on.  FedEx field was looking to be quite heavy on the legs last week when the Cowboys visited and while the Redskins metaphorically ran all over the Cowboys defence the Cowboys running game struggled to 100, 174 yards fewer than the Redskins racked up.

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