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Week 18 Picks: Wild Card Weekend, Part I

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Seahawks vs. Redskins
Home Field vs. On-A-Roll

Since the advent of the four-division alignment, road teams had enjoyed much success in the Wild Card round. Road teams were 3-1 in 2004 and 2005. But not last year. The home teams swept. I just like mentioning this stuff.

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Washington Redskins (9-7) @ Seattle Seahawks (10-6)
Qwest Field, Seattle, Wash.
January 5, 4:30 p.m.

These teams met two years ago in the divisional round. Seattle had a first-round bye, and Washington had beaten Tampa Bay, 17-10. Seattle won that matchup 20-10. Neither team has changed all that much since then. Washington now has Jason Campbell in place of quarterback Mark Brunell. The biggest recent change is Washington's loss of Sean Taylor, who was murdered barely a month ago.

(Click "Read More" to read the rest, vote in the poll and make your prediction.)

Seattle, 7-1 at home this season, enjoys one of the best home-field advantages in the league (behind New England, and that goes back to 2001). Washington is 4-4 on the road, but the losses are to Green Bay, New England, Dallas and Tampa Bay -- all division winners. Otherwise, these are surprisingly evenly matched teams -- statistically. Seattle has had a much easier road to 10-6 than Washington had to 9-7. Both have been playing well down the stretch, Seattle winning six of eight and Washington winning four straight (after losing four straight).

Seattle tends to be a passing team. Matt Hasselbeck has had another excellent season. Seattle can run the ball, too. While Shaun Alexander has been less than stellar and again injured, Maurice Morris has provided several solid performances in relief and in tandem -- very Laurence Maroney - Sammy Morris-like. Defensively, Seattle is just outside the top five in scoring, tied with Green Bay. They have played the run (Washington's strength) well.

Washington tends to be a running team -- until recently. Clinton Portis has had another season to make one wonder what Mike Shanahan was thinking trading him after the 2003 season. Ladell Betts is an excellent backup, but Portis's success has left Betts in a true reserve role. Quarterback Todd Collins has revived Washington's passing game, leading to those four wins after Jason Campbell (12 TDs, 11 INTs in 13 games, 77.6 passer rating) led the four straight losses. Collins has 5 touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 106.4 rating in those wins, his one poor game being an 8-of-25 outing against the blitz-happy Giants. Washington's defense has been solid most of the season, ranked 11th in scoring, but just 1.2 points per game behind Seattle.

Quite simply, I like the way Washington is playing lately.

Prediction: Redskins, 27-20.

Poll

Who will win the Washington @ Seattle wild card game?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    Washington Redskins
    (7 votes)
  • 41%
    Seattle Seahawks
    (5 votes)
12 votes total Vote Now