MATCHUP: Redskins vs. Seahawks

The Redskins enter a crucial stretch, playing their next three on the road. Thing is, all three look winnable. That starts with Sunday's 4:15 p.m. ET game at Seattle (2-5). A win moves the Redskins (3-4)to .500 and the players the momentum will be grand.

''If we can get to .500, it's a whole new season,'' Redskins quarterback Shane Matthews said. ''We don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but our goal is to find a way and then anything can happen from here on out.''

That they must do it on the road isn't intimidating. At least not to them.

''I like playing on the road because there's nothing like going into a stadium and taking over,'' Redskins right tackle Jon Jansen said. ''Nothing pleases me more.''

Offensive player to watch: Running back Kenny Watson. He'll start in place of the injured Stephen Davis, listed as doubtful for Sunday's game. Watson flourished in the fourth quarter against the Colts by staying patient, making precise cuts and getting the necessary yardage. He must do the same against Seattle. Unlike Davis, he needs lots of help from the line. But he showed he can be effective when he gets it.

Defensive player to watch: Linebacker Jeremiah Trotter. With cutback runner Shaun Alexander, Trotter must be slightly more cautious when breaking to the ball. He has a tendency to bite on fakes and if he does that Sunday, Alexander will have room to run.

Also keep an eye on: Corner Champ Bailey. He picked off Matt Hasselbeck last year and should smother any receiver the Seahawks have--Koren Robinson is now their best wideout. If Hasselbeck tests him, Bailey will thrive.

As well as: Left tackle Chris Samuels. He's playing despite a sprained ankle that he says is OK. Samuels should be fine, but the ankle was supposed to be better a couple weeks ago, too. One thing going for him is that the Seattle ends haven't played well.

Coming along: End Renaldo Wynn has flashed more in recent weeks. He's matched against Floyd ''Pork Chop'' Womack. Wynn rates an edge on the ground.

Interesting matchup: Right guard Tre Johnson versus tackle John Randle, at least in pass situations. Randle's quickness could make life difficult for Johnson, still working his way into shape. What we really want to hear is the trash that these two will be talking. Johnson can hold his own with anybody and Randle is a king talker.

Showing his age: Corner Darrell Green. The Colts succeeded in getting him matched one on one with Marvin Harrison most of the game last week and Harrison bested him, as he should. The Seahawks don't have anyone that dangerous, but that game provided a reminder as to why Green is best as a nickel covering No. 3 wideouts.

Telling stats: The Seahawks wide receivers have combined for 74 catches--and only one touchdown. . . . Seattle running back Shaun Alexander rushed for 139 and five touchdowns against Minnesota; in his other six games, Alexander has rushed for 294 yards and two touchdowns.

Big key: Blitz protection. With linebacker Chad Brown coming often, the backs must be on their toes. This is Ladell Betts' weakness, but he must improve by Sunday--if he plays.

Seattle's defensive strength: the corners. With corners Shawn Springs and Ken Lucas, not to mention Willie Williams and Doug Evans, Seattle is deep at this position.

A little time for: newly-signed Willie Jackson. He'll likely be active, though his duty might be limited to kick return--he's spent much of his career as a kick returner. Besides, if Watson starts, the Redskins don't want him returning kicks.

How the Redskins can win: By doing what they've done the past two games--stay balanced. Even with Watson the Redskins can do this. But we suggest they also attack Seattle in the air, picking on the linebackers. Seattle inserted Orlando Huff in the middle and D.D. Lewis on the outside because they're better against the run. Mix it up and hit them with short throws on first down, using the short-passing game as a running attack. Yes, it sounds like a West Coast attack. But you do what works. Seattle has struggled against the run and the Redskins line should be confident after last week. Ultimately, this is how the Redskins must move the ball. Defensively, watch for the screens and misdirection plays. Alexander is a dangerous receiver on screens. It would be nice to rattle Hasselbeck early. The best way is with an interception, which surely would damage his confidence and perhaps turn the home crowd against him. Tackle Daryl Gardener will be crucial. If he can penetrate and force Alexander to cut too deep in the backfield, the Redskins will dominate.


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