Hey, let’s play Predictions! Last week’s winner is Stranger danger, who nailed his Cowboys game pick and now gets to make a guest post. (Just email me, Stranger.) A reminder on how it works, for the uninitiated:
Our Redskins-loving “staff” makes predictions in the post, readers make predictions in the comments, and the commenter who comes closest to predicting the final score wins a guest post. Hip-hip!
Chris Mottram: Seahawks, 27-17
The two teams share some similarities in the way they run their offenses, and both share a lot of similarities statistically — extremely effective running and use the pass to keep things honest, all while scoring 25-plus points per game. There are two key differences that favor Seattle though.
1) Their defense is superior. Football Outsiders ranks them fourth in the NFL in DVOA, while the Skins are down at 17 (granted, their Weighted DVOA, which takes into account how they’re currently playing, has the two seventh and and 13th, respectively). Seattle is No. 1 in the league in points allowed, giving up 15.3 per game, almost 10 full points better than the Skins.
2) They played a considerably tougher schedule than Washington, so they’re probably better than the 11 wins suggest. Football Outsiders has them as the best team in the NFL in overall team efficiency. Washington is 9th.
What the Skins do have in their favor is home-field advantage. It’ll give Washington an edge, but it’s not like Seattle is incapable of winning on the road. They beat the Bears in Chicago in Week 13 and destroyed the Bills in Toronto in Week 15 (I know, the Bills, but still). Also, the Skins have RGIII, who will be the best player on the field.
JP Finlay: Redskins, 27-24
Throughout the win streak, I was optimistic, even a touch cocky at times. The Skins were the better team on the field for all of those games. Sure they needed a few good breaks against the Giants and the Ravens, but in all I felt confident the Skins would win those games. I no longer feel that way.
Seattle is good. They have a young, athletic defense that will swarm to the ball in a way the Skins haven’t seen throughout the win streak. The Skins were able to control the game against the Cowboys by running the spread option, with Morris gashing the inside of the Cowboys D-line and RGIII hitting the corners. It didn’t matter that Griffin was less than full-speed, Morris dominated.
That won’t be the case against the Seahawks. A more disciplined defensive front and better linebackers will read and react to the Skins spread option. Two keys for the Skins to win: commitment to the run and wide receivers making catches against physical corners. Even without the spread option, Kyle Shanahan and the Skins offense must continue to hammer Morris and wear down the Seahawks. I’m guessing Morris’ line will end around 22 carries for about 90 yards, but what’s more important is that the run game sets up the play-action.
Seattle’s corners are really good, but they’re also young and inexperienced. No starter in Seattle’s secondary has more than three years experience, and both starting corners have only been in the league for two years. That’s a lot of green.
All the national folks seem focused on Griffin’s legs, but his arm is just as dangerous. Play action will be a key for the Skins offense; intermediate routes to Pierre Garcon that allow him to create in space, and deep passes to Aldrick Robinson and Leonard Hankerson, maybe even Santana Moss. For the Skins to win, Griffin will need to pass for three touchdowns, and I think he can do it.
It’s going to be ugly, a grind-it-out game on a sloppy field. Marshawn Lynch will get his yards, Russell Wilson will complete a bunch of dumpoffs and underneath crossing routes. But in the end the Skins have a chance to win. I won’t bet against Griffin. And I know for damn sure the Skins are due to beat Seattle in the playoffs.
Matt Terl: Seahawks, 29-28
On a walk-off two-point conversion, because that seems like a) the sort of thing that Pete Carroll would do, and b) the sort of thing that would fit the narrative of the Seahawks’ season so far.
Andy Peden: Redskins, 28-23
Somehow it seems like the national perspective is that Russell Wilson is now playing better then RGIII and that the Seahawks defense is well equipped to stop the Skins offense. I’m trying to think when the last time a team won seven in a row and hosted a home playoff game but was a three-point dog. None of this makes sense. Skins are 9-1 with Garçon in the lineup, the defense is playing much better and the Skins have shown they can put up 28-plus points a number of different ways.
Todd Davis: Redskins, 19-17
Despite the hype, Seattle was 8-0 at home (including the Green Bay debacle) and a mere 3-5 on the road. Four of those road losses were to St. Louis (sound familiar?), Arizona, Detroit and, most recently, Miami. And none of those losses came on “fields” that were anything like the old dirt-track at Rosecroft, I mean, FedExField. This isn’t the ’85 Bears. Are they good? Sure. And they were never blown out, so I think this one is close. But these teams are incredibly similar, and when other things are equal, I’ll take RGIII to show up like never before.
Jack Kogod: Redskins, 27-23
Alfred Morris gashes the Seahwaks D for 150-plus while RGIII keeps them honest with his arm and feet.
Me: Seahawks, 24-17
Last week I went with JP’s prediction, which was a good choice. This week I’m going with Chris’s, unfortunately.
Composite prediction: Redskins, 23-21