2008 NFC Playoffs Wildcard Game: Washington Redskins vs. Seattle Seahawks Preview and Pick

Washington Redskins (9-7) +3.5, 40 O/U at Seattle Seahawks (10-6) -3.5, 4.30pm EST Saturday
by The Crazy Snake of Predictem.com

As if the Redskins’ season could get any more tumultuous, now they find themselves in a Wildcard playoff that could see them in the thick of post season action. A glance at Washington’s season really is a remarkable read on closer examination. It seems like a long time ago that Washington won their first 2 games and 5 of their first 8 before going on a 4 game losing streak that saw them all but drop out of playoff contention, the last of those losses a heartbreaking 1 point defeat in the week of the untimely demise of their highly respected safety, Sean Taylor. After that game all seemed lost, but the Redskins showed courage and character in winning a game against Chicago in which they lost their starting quarterback for the season. Enter the 10 year veteran bench warmer, Todd Collins, who led an unlikely Washington resurgence that saw them cap the regular season with 4 consecutive wins and steal the last playoff spot on the very last day. With an already amazing season behind them there would surely be something poetic if they somehow mustered a couple more wins and made it all the way to the big one. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. One game at a time, huh, Joe!

Seattle certainly had some ups and downs of their own this season, mixing their form between impressive and extremely disappointing on a few occasions. Once again they found themselves in a relatively weak division and won through to the playoffs without much more than mediocre overall form, much as they had done is each of the previous four seasons. But regardless of Seattle’s regular season form, they usually manage to save their best for the post season. Much of that post season success stems from their wiley veteran coach, Mike Holmgren, who along with John Madden jointly holds the enviable record of winning at least one post season game in 5 consecutive seasons. Granted he did none of that with Seattle, but Seattle is always dangerous in the post season and this season should prove to be no exception. They do have to get past a red hot Washington, however, and that will be no mean feat.

For Washington, the evergreen Todd Collins will need to continue his hot form since the demise of Jason Campbell. Where Todd has been best is in his ability to protect the football. Since coming in mid way through their week 14 win over the Bears, Todd has thrown for 888 yards, 5 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He recorded a passer rating of 106.4 during that period. If he continues on that trend Washington will not lack for the absence of Campbell. It’s hard to imagine he could have done any better. Seattle is not highly ranked defensively against run or pass and gave up big numbers to Atlanta in week 17 despite having most of their defensive starters on the field. Washington has the ground game through Portis to control the clock and Seattle would be ill-advised to allow the Redskins to get a lead.

Seattle has been pretty one dimensional in the second half of the season, with around 60% of their plays going through the air of late. Sean Alexander has had an entirely forgettable season on the ground by his lofty standards with only 3 touchdowns and a paltry 3.4 yards per rush average, the lowest of his career. Hassleback has turned more to Mo Morris for running support and will likely do so again here. Alexander is still troubled by a wrist injury and his 30 year old body has lost some of its bounce this season. Perhaps Sean could take a leaf from Todd Collins’ longevity handbook. Hasselbeck will stare down Washington’s lock down corner, Shawn Springs, and with Seattle’s one dimensional attack and the passing limitations Springs creates, things could get ugly for Matt. Against that, Washington doesn’t do alot of overload blitzing so that factor may not play out as a game decider. Make no mistake. Hasselbeck is a heck of a quarterback, more than capable of carrying the load for this offense. Just as well for Seattle. He may have to. Washington’s defense has come up big as of late and continues to impress. They held Dallas to an all-time low 1 yard rushing on 16 attempts in week 17. I hope you have your eye in, Matt.

On neutral ground I would be all over Washington here. They have all the momentum coming into this and appear to have more than covered their injuries and losses. Seattle has not been so effective in that regard, though they did find a starting wide receiver in their former slot receiver, Bobby Engram. The wildcard in this wildcard game is probably Holmgren and what he can come up with. I have a healthy respect for his experience and guile and anyone venturing in here would do well to be on guard. But Joe Gibbs is no slouch either and will surely have a few surprises of his own. This plays out close any way I look at it and a 3.5 point bookie favor on Washington simply has to be the play here. I am tempted to play the Redskins straight up but will settle for the points.

The Snake’s Bite: Take Washington with the 3.5 point start. Josh Brown always gets plenty to do, and should his leg be required to win this for Seattle we will still be in good shape with the extra half point up our sleeve.

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