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