What: Fourth regular season game
When: Sunday, October 2nd, 10 a.m. (PST)
Where: FedEx Field, Washington, D.C.
Weather: Mostly Cloud, 80 degrees
Redskins Key Players:
RB Clinton Portis: When the team traded All-Pro corner Champ Bailey for Portis last season the thought was that Portis would add the running dimension the team had lacked in recent seasons and make Gibbs' offense that much more dangerous. So far the move has received mixed reviews. Last season, Portis struggled to be the dynamic back the Redskins envisioned him to be. His yards per carry dropped from 5.5 his first two seasons in the league to 3.8 last year and his touchdowns fell from 14 to five. It wasn't all his fault as there was no passing game to speak of and the line struggled to open holes on a regular basis. So far this year, it has been a little better as he's rushing for 4.6 yards per carry, but the line is still struggling to get a consistent push.
WR Santana Moss: Moss hasn't been the big-play threat in his career that many saw coming out of college in 2001. He was hamstrung by being in a west coast offense in New York, but this season he's been everything the Redskins wanted and more. He leads the league with a 28.3 yard per catch average on nine catches with two touchdowns. He has benefited from Washington's deep passing game that allows receivers more time to get off of jams and doesn't call for them to fight for the ball as much. Moss is a dangerous man with the ball in his hands and he seems to be coming into his own with the Redskins.
LB Marcus Washington: With defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' imaginative scheme, Washington has freedom to roam and make plays. He hasn't disappointed so far and leads the team in tackles with 18. He is excellent in blitz situations and can get after the passer when asked to do so. He is also adept at covering the tight end, but can get lost in space at times.
FS Sean Taylor: Taylor is one of the best athletes in the deep middle of any secondary in the entire league. His speed and ability to diagnose plays allows Williams to creep SS Pierson Prioleau up into run support without worrying about getting burned deep. Taylor is a sure tackler and a ball hawk. He's also a heavy-hitter when a receiver comes into his territory.
Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck vs. Taylor: Hasselbeck has played fairly well so far this season, but he hasn't had a big game yet. Could this be his week? Hasselbeck seems to have matured and he finally has a set of receivers and tight ends that won't let him down when he puts the ball in their hands. He must stay away from the costly interceptions he suffered against Jacksonville in week one. As mentioned above, Taylor is a ball hawk. He loves to play centerfield and take advantage of offensive mistakes. If he gets into Hasselbeck's head then it could be a long day for the Hawks' signal-caller.
Seahawks offensive line vs. Williams' blitz package: Williams is one of the best defensive coordinators in the league. His blitz packages rival that of Tampa Bay's Monte Kiffin. He disguises his coverages well and sends players from all different positions. Straight up, the Seahawks offensive line should handle the Redskins defensive line just fine, but if the linebackers, corners and safeties get free shots on Hasselbeck the pounding could take a toll.
Washington linebackers vs. Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander: Alexander must have a productive day for the Seahawks to win. Sometimes, inexplicably, head coach Mike Holmgren stops running and it has cost this team some wins. This is not the game to do that. Hasselbeck will be a sitting duck if the Redskins can pin their ears back and blitz him all day. With Alexander keeping Washington, Lemar Marshall and Warrick Holdman on their heels, the play-action passing game the Hawks love should be in full effect.
Seahawks linebackers vs. Portis: Lofa Tatupu has really made a difference for this team. He has been making great adjustments on the field and the Hawks' defense is ranked eighth because of it. Jamie Sharper leads the Hawks with 13 tackles and has quietly started to come on the last two weeks. His leadership will be a key. Portis continues to struggle to get the amount of touches he needs to be as productive as he can be. Look for Washington to do their best to establish the run so their quarterback, aging veteran Mark Brunell, doesn't take a pounding.
News and Notes: Alexander is the league's number two rusher with 357 yards and he will face off against the Redskins' number two rush defense; Redskins have not allowed a 100-yard rushing game this season; Seahawks WR Darrell Jackson is tied for third in the NFL with 33 receptions; Seahawks offense is ranked second in the league with 399 yards per game; Holmgren has beaten 29 of the 32 teams in the NFL, but Washington isn't one of them (Houston and Indianapolis are the other two); DE Bryce Fisher has recorded a sack in all three games this season; Washington leads the series 8-4, including wins in the last three meetings.
OUT: T Wayne Hunter (hamstring)
DOUBTFUL: T Floyd Womack (triceps)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Kelly Herndon (neck); WR Peter Warrick (groin)
QUESTIONABLE: K John Hall (right quadriceps); CB Walt Harris (calf); S Pierson Prioleau (hamstring)
PROBABLE: T Jon Jansen (thumb); LB Lemar Marshall (groin); S Sean Taylor (shoulder)
Prediction: Seahawks 17 – Washington 14
Scott Eklund writes and reports for Seahawks.NET and Dawgman.com. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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