Yes, this is a postseason game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Washington Redskins, but the big issue in this game are the two rookie quarterbacks, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III, going head to head.
Both teams have a similar blueprint. While Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson are very talented quarterbacks with big arms and big plays waiting to happen from them, everything begins with the running game for both teams.
For the Seahawks, it’s about Marshawn Lynch (1590 yards) and what Russell Wilson can do in the shotgun and option offense. Robert Turbin will be getting some touches as well, but it’s mostly about Lynch setting up everything that happens later. The shotgun rushing game has been bolstered by the option, with the Seahawks averaging 7.3 yards on those rushes. On the season, Russell Wilson has gone 22-27 on play action passes from the shotgun, including 14-15 in the last four games.
Alfred Morris is the man who gets it done for the Redskins on the ground, with 1613 yards this season, including 200 against the Dallas Cowboys on the last day of the season. He had 55 rush plays gain 10 or more yards this season, second most in the NFL behind Adrian Peterson. Robert Griffin III has run for 815 yards (rookie quarterback record) on 120 carries this season, averaging 6.8 per play. Griffin’s 102.4 passer rating is the highest ever by a rookie and the third-best in the NFL this year.
So with two offenses who look to get yards and points the same way, it’s going to be the defenses that determine what happens, right? The cliche is that defense travels well, and the Seahawks are the team with the better defense, allowing only 15.3 points per game this season and are an extremely tough team to throw against, with their core of exceptionally big cornerbacks. The Redskins do have a problem with their secondary, which means that Wilson should opt to test that weakness through play action if Lynch gets going in the early drives.
How about forcing Wilson to an interception? Not likely. The Redskins have generated 12 interceptions when pass rushing five or more defenders this season, most in the NFL. Russell Wilson hasn’t thrown an interception against such pressure since Week 7 against the 49ers.
Prediction – Robert Griffin III is probably the better quarterback, but it seems the Seahawks have matured very well as the season went along, including and especially on the road. Their defense should be the difference maker and earn them the win.