Washington (11-6) at Seattle (13-3)
- Washington is 6-0 in its last six games, the longest active win streak in the NFL.
- Seattle is 0-6 in its last six playoff games, dating back to 1984.
- Washington faced more quality opponents in the regular season than any NFC playoff team (10).
- Seattle played fewer quality opponents than any team in football this year (5).
The Cold, Hard Football Facts
SEATTLE: The offense has earned all the accolades in Seattle this year, but the defense has been stout all season long. Interestingly, Seattle ranks just 25th against the pass (222.4 YPG) but leads the league in sacks with 50.
Consider those figures a function of sporting leads for much of the season. The Seahawks faced 571 pass attempts this year, fourth most in the NFL (Denver was No. 1, facing 613 pass attempts).
Holding a lead was not the only reason Seattle faced so many pass attempts. The Seahawks were one of the toughest teams in football to run against. They ranked 5th in rush defense (94.4 YPG) and allowed just 3.6 yards per carry (4th).
And while Shaun Alexander was simply amazing this year, setting a single-season TD record and winning NFL MVP honors, it's been six years since an MVP went on to win the Super Bowl (Kurt Warner, St. Louis, 1999). It's been seven years since the NFL's leading scorer won a Super Bowl (Terrell Davis, Denver, 23 in 1998).
: Mark Brunell took a lot of heat for his 41-yard passing performance against Tampa Bay last week in the wild-card round. But he did have something of a career year, with a personal-best 23 TD passes (to just 10 INTs). He should have earned a spot in the Pro Bowl ahead of Michael Vick
. Brunell's 85.9 passer rating was his best in a season in which he took the bulk of the snaps since 1998, the year he led Jacksonville to an 11-5 mark and an AFC Central title.
(His final win of that 1998 season was a 25-10 victory over New England in the wild-card round, making Brunell the last quarterback to beat the Patriots in the postseason. He went just 14 of 34 for 161 yards and 1 TD that day but had the great fortune of playing against immortal New England backup Scott Zolak, who was only marginally worse.)
We may be the only outlet in the seedy underworld of pigskin "punditry" impressed with Washington. No team did more to fight its way into the playoffs this year and no playoff team faced stiffer competition this season. The Redskins are tops among playoff teams with 11 of 17 games against quality opponents
and the record of their regular-season opponents (138-118, .539) was eight games tougher than any other playoff team's opposing record
And let's not forget: Only two coaches have won more playoff games than Washington's Joe Gibbs (17-5, .772). Tom Landry was 20-16 (.555); Don Shula was 19-17 (.528).
The Washington defense will present a formidable challenge for Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. The Redskins allowed opponents to complete just 54.4 percent of their passes (No. 1 in the NFL), allowed just 15 TD passes (No. 2) and recorded a TD to INT ratio of 15:16 (No. 3).
Most "pundits" believe this game has blowout written all over it, especially following Washington's woeful offensive output against Tampa Bay. We wouldn't put so much stock in a single performance. The Quality Wins Quotient
gives a slight advantage to Seattle (.600 winning percentage to .500 for Washington in the regular season). But the chasm in competition level throughout the season is too vast to ignore. No team in football had an easier road to the playoffs than Seattle (opponents were a combined 110-146, .430). No team had a tougher road than Washington. The battle-tested Redskins have the defense to frustrate the paper tiger in Seattle and emerge with their second road win of the playoffs.
Washington 17, Seattle 16