Ten Spot Preview: Redskins at Seahawks

John Keim takes a look at 10 burning questions going into today's game and offers his predictions.

1. How will Todd Collins fare in his first playoff start?

OK, here's the stat I heard yesterday courtesy of ESPN: quarterbacks making their first start in the playoffs have lost 13 of the last 15 games. Collins is making his first playoff start. But here's why that stat does not apply to him. First off, he's too old to be compared to other first-time starters. Second, his quirky personality will serve him well in this sort of pressure atmosphere. I'm guessing he'll be oblivious to it. If Collins does not fare well, it'll be because of the pressure from the Seattle front 7 and not the game.

2. When will Collins become Todd Collins again?

Maybe this is who he is. We really don't know so Collins could simply be just a solid quarterback. There's no reason to think he'll change that much. That is, if he gets time to throw and they're running well. I'd worry if they're not running effectively, but they have been. Seattle has some good corners so that could pose problems.

3. What about the 12th man?

Goodness sakes, I'm tired of hearing about them. That's all I've heard on TV this morning in Seattle. Yes, it's a terrific home field advantage. But here's the thing: if that's all you got, you won't win. Period. The Redskins lost last time here because of quarterback play and missed opportunities. If they score early and control the game, the crowd is not a factor. For Seattle to win, it must move the ball through the air and control the Redskins' O. The crowd can only do so much.

4. Yes, but won't it hurt the linemen?

Now that's a potential problem and it's where the crowd can play a factor. The tackles will have more problems than anyone and facing this rush, that could be an issue. They handled the noise of the Metrodome well, but the Vikings ends were not as good as Patrick Kerney, who had 10 of his 14.5 sacks at home. Third and long situations could be tricky.

5. What scares you about Seattle's D?

The Seahawks' speed. The linebackers run very well, led by middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu and weakside backer Julian Peterson. Both are Pro Bowlers and Peterson is one of the best ones in the league. He must be accounted for on every snap. Paired with Kerney, it gives Seattle a strong rush. Washington could hurt the Seahawks with power runs and misdirection plays, both good ways to handle speed.

6. Are the Seahawks that good?

Who knows? I don't think they're as strong as two years ago, thanks to the lack of consistent rushing attack from Shaun Alexander. What worries me is that Alexander has heard nothing but bad things lately. Will that somehow result in a top effort? We'll see. But as far as the Hawks go, we all know what their schedule was this season and we know they're tired of hearing about it. But I know this: based on their schedule, if they were that good, they would have had a better record. They're flawed and more beatable than two years ago.

7. What about their offense?

And that's my no. 1 concern for this game. Seattle can pass the ball, spreading the field with four wideouts and using lots of quick throws. Detroit tried to do this too, but the Hawks have a better QB in Matt Hasselbeck. In that game, Washington dropped its backers an extra yard or two, daring them to throw underneath and ignoring the run. Skins can't do that this time because the Hawks are smart enough to then run the ball. The key will be getting their hands up to bat down passes and also to disrupt timing on the outside. I also worry about the ability to cover all four wides, if Hasselbeck has time. This is the best passing attack Washington has faced since the first Dallas meeting.

8. What about the weather?

It's going to be cold, windy and rainy. The gusts started this morning, but could subside by kickoff. It could be an issue, as it was in the Meadowlands. But I don't think it'll be as bad as it was that day. A short passing attack, like Seattle features, might not be affected as much as one that wants to go downfield. If it's ugly weather, the obvious thing is to take the rushing game. Right now, that would favor Washington.

9. Who must have good games?

End Andre Carter, facing Walter Jones. Carter has played him before so that will help. Tackle Stephon Heyer against Kerney. Heyer will get help, as always, in protection. But he must have a better game on the ground. Collins, for obvious reasons. Safety LaRon Landry can't be lulled into areas he shouldn't be. The Seahawks will clearly test him. And Rock Cartwright could be a bigger factor considering Seattle's poor coverage units.

10. Who will win?

This has the same feeling as two years ago when the Redskins played Tampa. I just think they're a better team than Seattle. Collins is playing well and, if the conditions don't limit his downfield tosses, he'll do well enough. I know the home field edge is big here, but in the playoffs it comes down to mental toughness. The Redskins have it. See you in Dallas. Redskins 24, Seahawks 21.

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