1. Here we go again: Will Clinton Portis play?
We expect him to. Portis was very confident that he would be able to go and said that his knee felt better than it did entering the Dallas game. We have learned in the past not to fully believe everything Portis says, but not sure there was a reason to doubt him this week. We were equally convinced he wouldn't play last week (and if he misses this week and another game because of it, then I would say they made a mistake).
2. What impact will Shawn Springs have?
The Redskins' secondary has played well in Springs' absence. They're clearly not only the strength of the defense, but also of the team. But his return makes them even more dangerous. Springs' ability to cover in the slot is unmatched by the other corners – and Seattle will use four-receiver sets often. Also, he provides more of a threat to blitz. Springs excels at blitzing from the slot and can help get more pressure on the QB. Maybe that only happens once in the game, but it will still help. And his ability to drop to safety is another bonus, allowing LaRon Landry to blitz occasionally.
3. Will Malcolm Kelly provide any help?
If he's activated, he can offer something nobody else can: size in the red zone. The Redskins' offense lacks diversity in the passing game inside the 20 because=2 0of the lack of a big guy. Chris Cooley is a good tight end, but not a great one and he is not someone who can outmuscle guys in the end zone. He relies on finding open spots and sitting down. The wideouts rely on quickness, but things are so tight down here that quickness alone doesn't get the job done. So they need the threat of something else, such as a fade or the back-shoulder pass. Kelly provides that. The key is how fast can he react to the coverage to adjust his route.
4. Has the offensive line started to fade?
Not really. This is who they have always been: good run blockers who struggle against speed in pass protection, especially when the opposition knows a pass is coming. This is an older group, but when the run blocking starts to suffer, then you know something is wrong.
5. Can they handle Seattle's pressure?
Yes. That's not to say they won't give up a sack or two; the Seahawks have recorded a sack every game. But this won't be a situation where Jason Campbell is under pressure all game and can't find time to throw.
6. Will Seattle blitz a lot?
Yes. At least that's been their tendency this season. They like to bring the linebackers, with Julian Peterson providing trouble on the outside. Clinton Portis has to be able to handle this better than he did last week when a few blitzers got past him to apply pressure. But this leaves the Seahawks vulnerable down the middle. The Seahawks have allowed 15 touchdown passes this season – as much as they allowed all of 2007. The Redskins need to attack the safeties, particularly Brian Russell, to capitalize.
7. How badly does Jim Zorn want to win?
It's hard to imagine him wanting to win this more than any other game they've played. He's ultra-competitive. But, yes, he did have a little more giddy-up in his step this week. But he did not put any more emphasis on this game when dealing with the players than another game. He's not selfish. So he won't go out and try to show the Seahawks a bunch of trick plays to show what he can do as a playcaller. In other words, he's not Steve Spurrier intent on showing what he could do. But there's no doubt it'll be an odd feeling for Zorn being back in Seattle.
8. How dangerous are the Seahawks offensively?
Actually, quite dangerous. Their record is deceiving because of the five games missed by Matt Hasselbeck. That will definitely help. And the return of receiver Deion Branch is big as well. Hasselbeck looked rusty for three quarters vs. Arizona last week. They can now run a balanced attack, with running back Julius Jones providing the rush. He's done a nice job in Seattle, without the full help of a passing game. But is Seattle's offense any different than other top offenses Washington has faced? No. And remember: the Redskins' defense has n ow faced six offenses currently ranked in the top 11. In each case they've held those teams to less than their current averages in points and yards.
9. What are some matchups to watch?
DE Andre Carter against LT Walter Jones. It may be that the Redskins shift Jason Taylor to this side more often today than they normally would. Jones will devour Carter. DE Darryl Tapp vs. RT Jon Jansen. Tapp is not as good as Patrick Kerney, but he is quick and can get to the QB. Another subtle one is QB Jason Campbell vs. MLB Lofa Tatupu. Clearly Tatupu must worry about the run game first, but he has a knack for intercepting passes (though none yet this year).
10. Who will win?
The Redskins remain ripe to be beat. They are not playing complete games and have not for a while. If they were playing a better team, there's no way I would pick them. Having said that, you almost have to look at Seattle like they're a 4-6 or 5-5 team. Maybe that's what they would have been had Hasselbeck been healthy all season. So this will be a major struggle. But I like the Redskins secondary vs. the Seattle receivers and the Redskins offense will be able to get Santana Moss downfield for big plays. Redskins 21, Seahawks 19
John Keim covers the Redskins for the Washington Examiner and is a contributing editor for Warpathinsiders.com. He has covered the team since 1994. Some of his other stories can be found at dcexaminer.com
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