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-Wildcard Saturday: Washington vs. Seattle
By Chris Pokorny, PFCritics Writer
January 5, 2008
It's been a miraculous comeback for Todd Collins and the Washington Redskins after the tragic death of Sean Taylor. Will Matt Hasselbeck be able to calm the Redskins' storm to have a re-match with the Green Bay Packers (we all remember Hasselbeck's overtime playoff meltdown against them a few years ago).
NFC Wildcard Playoff Game - Team Stats
Washington Redskins - #6 vs. #3 - Seattle Seahawks
- Overall Record: 9-7
Road Record: 4-4
15th overall
(12th rush, 14th pass)
8th overall
(4th rush, 16th pass)
  - Overall Record: 10-6
Home Record: 7-1
9th overall
(20th rush, 8th pass)
15th overall
(12th rush, 19th pass)
Position by Position Analysis
Quarterback vs. -Quarterback
Todd Collins: 67 of 105 for 888 yards, 5 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 7 sacks, 2 fumbles.

Note: Taking over for the injured Jason Campbell several weeks ago, Collins was a blessing in disguise this season for the Redskins' quarterback situation. When a team lacks explosive receivers, you need a quarterback that can manage the game and drop the ball into the hands of his receivers in opportune times. Not throwing an interception in his four games played shows the ball security he'll need to succeed in the postseason.
  Matt Hasselbeck: 352 of 562 for 3966 yards, 28 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 33 sacks, 5 fumbles.

Note: The Redskins are fourth in the league against the run. That means that Hasselbeck will have to throw the ball often. Good news: he's had to throw the ball all season. Hasselbeck threw for a career high in yardage and touchdowns and was still able to limit the number of picks he threw. Having won the NFC West for several consecutive seasons, Hasselbeck definitely has the postseason experience needed to execute in crunch time.
-Running Backs vs. Running Backs
Clinton Portis: 325 carries, 1262 yards, 11 touchdowns, 5 fumbles. 47 catches, 389 yards.
Ladell Betts: 93 carries, 335 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 fumble. 21 catches, 174 yards, 1 touchdown.

Note: Portis managed to stay healthy for a full 16-game season, although you still have to agree with the contract extension the team gave to Betts the previous season. The Seahawks feature a fairly balanced defense with a few stout pass rushers. The Redskins would be wise to try and force a few of the Seahawks' defenders to rush outside through the use of a draw play in shotgun.
  Shaun Alexander: 207 carries, 716 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 fumbles. 14 catches, 76 yards, 1 touchdowns.
Maurice Morris: 140 carries, 628 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 fumble. 23 catches, 213 yards, 1 touchdown.

Note: Where to start with the Seahawks' running game? It's been so unreliable this season that it would almost be suicide if the Seahawks attempted to establish the ground game as a threat early on. Hasselbeck has been efficient throwing the ball to close out the season, although his spark was limited in Week 15 against the Panthers. If that happens in the postseason, the Seahawks will likely turn to Morris instead of the veteran Alexander.
Receivers vs. -Receivers
Santana Moss: 61 catches, 808 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 fumbles.
Chris Cooley: 66 catches, 786 yards, 8 touchdowns.
Antwaan Randle El: 51 catches, 728 yards, 1 touchdown.

Note: The Redskins ran with the same group of receivers for the second season in a row. While it's hard to complain since they made the postseason, the receivers failed to flourish prior to their hot run under Collins. When your two starting receivers can only manage a combined four touchdowns, the opportunities are limited down near the red zone. Thankfully the Redskins do have Cooley, who is having another solid season at the tight end position.
  Bobby Engram: 94 catches, 1147 yards, 6 touchdowns, 1 fumble.
Nate Burleson: 50 catches, 694 yards, 9 touchdowns, 1 fumble.
Deion Branch: 49 catches, 661 yards, 4 touchdowns.
D.J. Hackett: 32 catches, 384 yards, 3 touchdowns.
Leonard Weaver: 39 catches, 313 yards.

Note: You know the Seahawks are well versed at the receiver position when the fullback has 39 catches on the season. While Engram has the most receptions, any of Hasselbeck's receivers -- including the returning D.J. Hackett -- can catch the ball when they are in the lineup.
-Defense vs. -Defense
Stats: 19.4 points allowed, 14 interceptions, 17 forced fumbles, 33 sacks, 2 defensive touchdowns.

Note: While the Redskins' defense seemed to receive a lift after the death of Sean Taylor, they've been playing very well the entire season. The thing that was impressive during their four-game winning streak at the end of the season is that they took care of the defending NFC Champions, the other two teams in their division that made the playoffs, and a red-hot Vikings team. They've faced teams capable of postseason play for a month now, and that means they are ready to face another one.
  Stats: 18.2 points allowed, 20 interceptions, 21 forced fumbles, 45 sacks, 2 defensive touchdowns.

Note: It'll be Patrick Kerney's job to try and disrupt the rhythm that Collins has established in the Redskins' offense the past four games. Although that seems like a tall order, with proper game-planning the Seahawks have the potential to really limit what Collins is capable of doing. He's been a career backup for a reason, and one bad performance will show that. Lofa Tatupa, Marcus Trufant, and Julian Peterson provide the youth and veteran talents necessary to make the plays that win games.
Special Teams vs. -Special Teams
Antwaan Randle El: 6.1 yards per punt return.
Shaun Suisham: 29-of-35 in field goals, with a long of 50 yards.

Note: Randle El has been in the playoffs before, but his return ability as a punt returner with the Redskins has been down this year. What hasn't been down is the reliability provided by kicker Shaun Suisham, who has connected on 10 of 13 attempts between 40 and 49 yards.
  Nate Burleson: 21.9 yards per kick return, 1 touchdown. 11.3 yards per punt return, 1 touchdown.
Josh Brown: 28-of-34 in field goals, with a long of 54 yards.

Note: Burleson has had a quiet knack of returning kicks well at opportune times. The Redskins would hate to put together a long drive only to see him give Seattle great field position. The Seahawks couldn't want anyone else besides Brown to be in position for a game-winner.
Final Analysis
Washington Redskins vs. Seattle Seahawks
Todd Collins is about to step into an atmosphere that he's never been in before, and on the road where the "12th man" plays such a vital role, it's hard to say he'll be able to lead the Redskins to a victory. I'm not saying he'll necessarily struggle, but I doubt that he'll have the same type of success he's had over the past several weeks.

The Seahawks are going to have to heavily rely on Matt Hasselbeck all game long. If Mike Holmgren gets stuck in a habit of trying to establish the running game, the only thing he's going to be doing is giving the Redskins more opportunities to hang around in the game. Holmgren's clock management skills have been very poor in the past, so if the Seahawks find themselves down by two possessions in the fourth quarter, the Redskins should be able to put the game away.

The offenses are going to be able to do what they expect to be able to do. Hasselbeck will be able to throw the ball, and Collins and the Redskins will execute on the finer plays to keep themselves in the game. A Redskins turnover late while trying to come back and tie the game will cost them dearly.
AFC Wildcard Prediction
Seattle Seahawks 27, Washington Redskins 20

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