Seahawks at Redskins
Monday, 8:30 p.m.
Let’s take a look at the pros, cons, and X factors for the Redskins as they take on the Seahawks tonight and then I’ll give my prediction.
Here are two factors that work against a Redskins win:
—I suppose I could just say, “they’re the Seahawks” and that the two “con” factors are their offense and defense and leave it at that. But to narrow down to one player on offense, I’ll go with Marshawn Lynch. The Redskins did an excellent job of containing Shady McCoy and Darren Sproles when they played the Eagles and even though Arian Foster was able to get 103 yards against them he needed 27 carries to do it. (3.8 yards/carry). But they are speed backs. The Giants’ two power backs, Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams, gashed Washington for a combined 121 yards on 28 carries. Lynch is much better than those two, of course. The Redskins will need to gang tackle Lynch and keep him well under 100 yards to have a chance.
—And to pick one player on defense I’ll say safety Earl Thomas. He doesn’t have an interception this year but he’s due. If Kirk Cousins has any lingering jitters from his four-pick performance last Thursday, Thomas will take advantage of any errant throws.
Here are two factors in favor of a Redskins win:
—The Redskins have a pretty good group of receivers who should be able to challenge Thomas and the rest of the Seattle secondary. If Cousins gets time to throw (and, per Pro Football Focus he has been under pressure on a lower percentage of his passes than all but one regular NFL QB this year) he should be able to find Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts and Niles Paul. Add in a possible appearance by Jordan Reed and they could cause some trouble for the famed Legion of Boom.
—The Redskins only have one sack against teams not named the Jacksonville Jaguars but they have a pretty decent pass rush and Seattle’s offensive line is not one of their stronger units. If they can be smart about keeping Wilson in the pocket—much easier said than done—they could get to him. He’s been sacked six times in three games. The caveat here is that they have to hit him. Wilson is one of the best QBs in the league when scrambling and under pressure.
And two X factors:
—Will the Redskins run the ball? Some have said that Jay Gruden has a tendency to abandon the run and toss the ball around a little too much if the run game isn’t clicking. But in the one game the Seahawks lost, the Chargers stuck with the run. San Diego’s Danny Woodhead, Ryan Mathews, and Donald Brown combined for 26 carries for 84 yards (3.2 yards per carry). The Chargers’ run game was not effective in a statistical sense but it wore down the Seahawks’ defensive front. Although the Redskins will have to take advantage of their strength, their receiving corps, they can’t be one-dimensional even if Alfred Morris is being held to only three yards per carry.
— They aren’t s bad as they looked against the Giants. That’s damning with faint praise to be sure but there is way too much of a tendency for fans and many in the media to judge a team based on its last game. If they were playing this game the week after the Jaguars game or even the Eagles game, they might be a popular dark horse pick to win this game. But is the group that will take on the Seahawks tonight that different from the one that played the Jags and Eagles? They’re healthier but other than that, it’s the same group.
So what will happen?
The only real chance the Redskins have is the “any given Monday” scenario. The Seahawks come out flat, the Redskins get a pick six early, the refs are quick with the illegal contact flags and Washington is able to hang around long enough to pull it out. According to the odds on the site FiveThirtyEight.com, the Redskins have a 19 percent chance of pulling out the win. That sounds about right.
But the far more likely scenario is that the Seahawks will take care of business. Lynch will run for a buck and a quarter or so. Wilson will be his usual efficient self, putting up some unimpressive numbers while being very impressive in the decisions he makes. The Redskins receivers will be able to make some plays but not nearly enough of them. Throw in a big play by Percy Harvin, perhaps coming on special teams, and you have a game that is ugly, nominally competitive, but is controlled by the visiting team.
Seahawks 20, Redskins 6
(record this year 2-2)