So the Redskins are nine-point underdogs, huh? That means nobody expects them to win. But there's certainly a way they can -- and it's not far-fetched by any means.
1. Battle Tested. Seattle plays in a weak conference and has played only five teams with a winning record. The Seahawks are 3-2 against them, and that includes Indianapolis when the Colts were playing minus their coach after his son committed suicide. Seattle should have lost at home to New York and Dallas -- it took three missed field goals by the Giants and a horrible blunder by Dallas to give the Seahakws the win. The Redskins, meanwhile, have played 11 games against teams with a winning record and are 6-5. Oh, and one of those teams was Seattle.
2. Health. Yes, the Redskins are down a starting end after Renaldo Wynn got hurt. And Randy Thomas sure would be helpful in this game; his athleticism against this front seven would come in handy. It's a concern. But the Redskins' defense, at least, is in good shape with the return of corner Shawn Springs. And that's where they need to be healthy. Plus the other three starters up front are in good shape and end Demetric Evans is fine, too. Meanwhile, Seattle's secondary is banged up and that could pose a major problem for the Seahawks. If Santana Moss can get free against them, the Redskins have a terrific chance. Of course, Mark Brunell clearly appears worn down so that could pose problems. He needs to play much better than he has of late for the Redskins to win.
3. Toughness. The Redskins have won four straight road games, which follows suit with the battle tested part. But this is a group that's been counted out by most people since training camp opened. Then, at 5-6, even fewer gave them a chance. Well, guess what? They haven't lost since. They are as mentally strong as any team in the NFL, which matters on the road. Especially if the weather conditions aren't ideal, which they won't be. Clearly, Seattle can run the ball in any weather because of its fantastic line and even better back. But the Seahawks have a small defensive front and that favors Washington. The Redskins don't have a small front and have good run stuffers in Cornelius Griffin and Joe Salave'a.
4. Turnovers. The Redskins haven't committed as many on the road the past three trips and the defense has been forcing them. That's the primary way a team can pull an upset on the road. Look at what it did in Tampa Bay. The Bucs spent nearly the entire game digging out of a hole. In a defensive struggle, that's deadly. The Redskins are helped by LaVar Arrington starting to become a bigger factor. And Sean Taylor, provided he doesn't spit at anyone, is on a roll, too. But nobody is better on either defense right now than Marcus Washington.
5. History. Yes, it has nothing to do with this current team. The Seahawks are a good team, we all know that. But the past is the past and when a franchise hasn't won a playoff game since 1984, it's a past that can't be ignored. Even if none of these players had anything to do with it, they're well aware of the history. Will they press? Will they force things? Until they win a playoff game, it will be brought up and talked about. It's not quite Boston and the World Series, but it certainly is something to taunt the Seahawks about. And when you're on the road, you want to look for every advantage.
There are other reasons the Redskins can win. There are many why they could lose. But here's the point: they have a chance. That's all they want.