1) Stop Em’ Cold
– The Redskins averaged 169 yards per game on the ground throughout the season. It’s no secret they are going to try and establish a consistent, time-consuming game plan to offset Seattle’s new found high-octane offense. It will be up to the ‘Hawks D to create 3rd and Long situations for RG3, and take Alfred Morris out of the equation by going up early and being stout at the point of attack to force Washington into obvious passing situations where the Seahawks can best utilize their speed in their pass rush. Look for Chris Clemons, and Bruce Irvin to come up big in this one.
2) Wear Em’ Out
– On the other side of the ball, the Redskins gave up an average of 378 yards to opposing offenses on the year. This bodes well for a peaking Seattle Offense, and its power run game. While Washington did hold opponents to just under a 100 yards per game on the ground, look for the ‘Hawks to ‘Feed the Beast’, and rely heavily on Marshawn Lynch as well as it’s vertical passing game out of play-action to keep the aging Redskins defense on the field for extended periods of time in the fridgid, bone aching cold of FedEx Field. I would look for Sidney Rice to benefit greatly in this matchup, as he must be frustrated from the lack of looks he received against St. Louis on top of the fact the Redskins pass-D has been giving up an average of almost 300 yards per game. Could be a big game for the Seahawks Wideouts.
– While there are distinct differences in schematics, and approach, the Seahawks and Redskins adopt very similar philosophies when it comes to their offensive game plans. Run the football, utilize their youth and athleticism at the Quarterback position, and maintain field position and game clock dominance. In doing this, both teams have the advantage of having seen a version of what the other team is going to be doing come Sunday, to a degree, in practice. While the Redskins utilize the Pistol formation in most of its read-option packages, the Seahawks Defense will have had a good amount of familiarity in defending this type of offense, as it does so a weekly basis at the VMAC. While both teams can claim to have this advantage, I think it can only bolster a team’s chances on the road in the playoffs.
4) Road Warriors
– The Seahawks haven’t won on the road since 1983. It’s been well documented in the lead up to the game. It’s true, winning on the road in the playoffs, let alone in the regular season, is a tough hill to climb. If the Seahawks have any chance of moving on in the tournament, they’ll have to knock down the 29 year old roadblock that stands in their way in our Nation’s Capitol. One could cite numerous occasions when a Wild Card team has ran the house on the road to end up in the Big Game. The Giants did it just recently. But it’s not commonplace. Not by a long shot. However, this Seattle team has found a new resilience, a new gusto, born in the last 2 drives in Chicago and has been with them ever since. With the Smooth Operator in Wilson at the helm, and a ferocious Defense on the road, the formula for success is in place. It’s up to the Seahawks to execute it.
5) Silence is Golden
– While the 12th Man will be represented with a strong showing in Washington D.C., it will still be a rough go for the ‘Hawks if the 85-90,000+ at FedEx Field get going in a frenzy. As is true with any road game, the deflation of any home team momentum goes a long way to the overall feel and ‘buzz’ of the game. Look for the Seahawks to get things going early with a shot or 2 down the field to muzzle the efforts of the Redskins faithful. A nice completion to a streaking Golden Tate off of play-action on 2nd and 2 would definitely put a hush on the largest capacity venue in the NFL. Hey, maybe the 12th Man will turn it into a home game of sorts for the visiting Hawks. One can only hope…Best of luck to our beloved Seahawks, and all my 12th Men and Women around the world. I 3elieve. HAWKS!!