On the night before the Battle with Seattle, and I can't get the Nationals out of my head.
The Redskins and the Nationals, division champions with home field advantage in first round of the playoffs. Joy. Delirium. Unbridled optimism. Surely, given the season they had, the home team would move on to post-season glory.
We know how that turned out for the Nats (and usually for the Caps). That seemed so long ago, but it was really October, four weeks before the Redskins' magical seven-game winning streak that let us forget the pain.
The Nats will be a more successful baseball team if the Redskins go deep in the playoffs. The Seahawks are deservedly favored today; the numbers show it. A Redskins win is a matter of Natitude.
One random thought before we get to the three stats that matter – what could this offense have been if Fred Davis were healthy? Wow.
Three stats that matter
QB Passer Rating Differential
Redskins 102.1, Opponents 87.0, Differential 15.1
Seahawks 100.6, Opponents 71.8, Differential 28.8
East Coast football fans rarely watch west coast teams. The networks feed us Broncos or 49ers games. We've read about the Seahawks more than we've seen them. Redskins fans don't know them well. So let me leave you with this.
The Seahawks front seven is good enough to run down a gimpy Robert Griffin III at the edge of the field. The front seven is good at pressure because the Seahawks' secondary is good at coverage. They are physical, as Brandon Browner reminds me every time I watch him play.
It's unfair to compare QB differentials when the Seahawks had Ryan Fitzpatrick and John Skelton on the schedule. Fitzpatrick's passer rating was 58.8 when the Bills faced the Seahawks. Skelton's was 18.2. Both quarterbacks got their coaches fired.
The Seahawks play in the 4-3 alignment. That was once considered a run-stopping defense. Every football truism has been violated this season, why not that one. The Redskins might exploit the edge of Seattle's defense and force some breakdowns in the secondary. Just don't count on that happening too often, though.
Washington's passing offense is precise enough beat Seattle's pass defense. Is the Redskins pass defense stout enough to stifle Russell Wilson? It would boost the QBR Differential if they can do that. It's the question of the game.
Time for old school football. Run the ball. Stop the run, Keep Wilson & company on the sideline.
The game sees the return of two-time Redskins DL Chris Clemons who has found his home in Seattle. After bouncing around the league since leaving DC, Clemons emerged as a defensive stalwart with 33.5 sacks over the last three seasons.
Disruption is the path to victory for the Redskins. Force turnovers and score. The Redskins scored six times off turnovers. It wouldn't hurt to get a couple more against Seattle. Help is on the way. Cedric Griffin returns from suspension. Anyone named Griffin is bound to be a boost for the Redskins.
Third Down Conversions Allowed
No sense beating a dead horse. The Redskins are bad at making stops. They must get better if they want to make a playoff run. The Seahawks are the best team the Redskins will face in the playoffs. The 'Skins must become very good at either making stops or forcing turnovers today.
I'm more comfortable with the turnover part.
The Hog Heaven Magic 8-Ball is not encouraging.
The 8-Ball is 7-1 in calling the correct outcome to Redskins games. It missed the call on the Eagles game last month. When asked if the Redskins will beat the Seahawks, it bubbled up, "My reply is no." Meh!
The numbers and the 8-Ball point to a Seahawks win. They deserve to be favored. As a geeky analyst, I am obligated to go where the numbers lead. However, this is a Redskins blog. Hog Heaven readers expect us to give weight to homerism. So, I leave you with this thought.
Stats are important for predictability. Predictability is important if trends show up in games. Games take on a life of their own because players are trying to make the difference that breaks tendencies.
That's just as true of the Seahawks, but the 'Hawks are not my team. If the Redskins are to win, they have to dig deeper than the Seahawks. They have to want it more. This blah-blah-blah means somebody out there has to make a play.
I watched a lot of cartoons and I never saw Underdog lose a fight. There's no need to fear.
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