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Seahawks Battle ‘Skins While Niners Enjoy a Bye Week

Russell Wilson

Wilson leads the favored 'Hawks in D.C. to play the Redskins.

I argued a couple of weeks ago that the NFC West may have suddenly become the toughest division in football and I think last week’s games exemplified that. Arizona played San Francisco much tougher on the road in a meaningless game for them than I would have imagined. St. Louis took Seattle to the wire in a game that meant nothing for them as well. Certainly the AFC North and NFC East can make arguments but right now, the West is best.

San Francisco Bye Week- The 49ers needed a win last week and a loss by the Green Bay Packers in order to secure one of the two byes for the 2012 NFL Playoffs. This a Niners’ team that doesn’t appear to me to be the ‘hammer’ it was last year when it had home-field advantage. The 49ers of course lost the NFC Title Game to New York but this year things are different.

Colin Kaepernick is the quarterback and Head Coach Jim Harbaugh needed him to play well down the stretch to qualify the decision. He did just that and now Alex Smith, who really didn’t do anything to lose the job, will more than likely be a coveted free agent in the off-season. The decision to go with Kaepernick could still come back to haunt Harbaugh if this team gets bounced in their first playoff game. Kaepernick is an excellent player, but like Smith, he needs a running game to thrive and if Frank Gore is stymied, the Niners will need to rely on Kaepernick more than they want.

Alfred Morris

I believe Morris could be the difference Sunday in D.C.

Seattle (-3) at Washington – Of the four wild-card games this weekend, Seattle is the only road favorite as they travel across the country to play Robert Griffin III and the Redskins. It will also be the only match-up of rookie quarterbacks in the playoffs as RGIII hosts Russell Wilson.

The Redskins ranked 5th in the NFL in total offense while the Seahawks finished the regular season 4th in total defense so something will have to give here. Both times are ranked in the top 10 in rushing defense so it looks very much like this game could rest on the shoulders of the rookie QBs. Neither team throws the ball overly successful. The ‘Skins rank 20th and the Seahawks are 27th so to me this game will come down to two things.

The first is which team can run the ball more effectively and that might not even mean running it very well. Just the ability to keep the defense on it’s heels may be enough. The other key thing I’m looking at is pass rush and that certainly favors the Seahawks. There’s a twist to that though too. As the season has progressed, no one has beaten the blitz better than RGIII so Seattle must be careful and do their best to get pressure without bringing extra pass rushers.

So what direction can we expect this game to go then? If you go by the home and away records, you give the advantage to Washington who is 5-3 at home while the Seahawks are 3-5 on the road. Seattle has won five straight while Washington has won their last seven. As they say, something’s got to give. West Coast teams rarely do well when coming east, but this is going to be a late game which helps Seattle.

I really want to go with Russell Wilson here who has been hot, but I see another rookie being the difference and it isn’t RGIII. Running Back Alfred Morris will ultimately be the difference. Yes, turnovers and special teams will make a difference as they always do, but I think the ‘Skins will get just enough from Morris and their defense to win this one outright and advance.


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