Playoffs  

 

Wild Card Weekend: Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins

The 2012 playoffs are finally here, with the 12 surviving teams -- the best of the best in the NFL -- set to fight it out for the Super Bowl XLVII title. The action kicks off this weekend with the wild-card round. To get you ready, let's take a closer look at all four games.

Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins, Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET, FOX

The setup

You want a perfect wild-card matchup? You want exciting offense? Intriguing star power? Rookie quarterbacks who are rewriting NFL history and running backs on each side who make the ground game as thrilling as the passing game? This is it. Robert Griffin III vs. Russell Wilson -- the first two rookies to finish a season with a passer rating of 100 or higher. Alfred Morris vs. Marshawn Lynch -- two of the NFL's top three rushers. The Redskins vs. the Seahawks -- two teams that have each won seven of their past eight games. Now, that's some wild stuff.

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Check out the best photos of Seahawks vs Redskins matchups through the years.

Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins: For much of the season, whenever the subject of rookie superlatives has been broached, Robert Griffin III has diverted the conversation toward an unlikely name: Alfred Morris. It might have been easy for observers on the national level to roll their eyes, believing Griffin was simply deflecting attention to a teammate. That is, until Week 17, when Morris' 200-yard game against the Dallas Cowboys changed the eye-rolling to eye-opening. Morris has rushed for 100 yards or more in each of his past three home games. As Griffin noted Sunday, teams that focus on stopping RG3 will regret ignoring Morris.

Under pressure

Redskins' secondary: It isn't so much that Seattle puts up a boatload of passing yards (they actually rank 27th in that category). Rather, their efficiency and ability to finish drives are what make them such a scary matchup for Washington's leaky defense. Nobody put up more points in the last five weeks of the season than the Seahawks. Wilson, meanwhile, has thrown 16 touchdown passes while getting picked off just twice in his past eight contests. If the Redskins want to give RG3 a chance to get it done on offense, they must be incredibly disciplined and consistent for all four quarters in their pass defense -- something they haven't done very well at times this season.

Matchup to watch

Richard Sherman vs. Robert Griffin III: Maybe the most underrated and impressive element of Griffin's success as a rookie has been his discipline in the passing game. He has thrown just five interceptions this season, tied for the lowest in the league among qualifying players. His interception percentage of 1.3 is the second-lowest in the league, trailing only Tom Brady. The only problem? On Sunday, he's up against one of the toughest cornerbacks in football. Sherman is tied for second in the NFL with eight interceptions.

Did you know?

Each of the Redskins' last two playoff games were against the Seahawks, and Seattle won both, in 2005 and 2007. ... RG3 has the most rushing yards for a rookie quarterback since at least 1950. Russell Wilson is fifth on that same list. ... Only the Denver Broncos have a longer active win streak (11 games) than the Redskins (seven). ... The Seahawks are 3-5 on the road this season. They lost five of their first six away games, but they also won their last two.

Prediction

We all know both of these teams are capable of putting up big points, with each squad featuring a rookie quarterback who has been clutch in big moments and a running back who can change the momentum of a game. And although the Seahawks' defense is probably better suited for a game like this, there's another outlier that could also play a factor: coaching. This is going to be a fantastic game, but Mike Shanahan's experience in playoff football could give the Redskins a slight edge.

Washington Redskins 31, Seattle Seahawks 27

For more predictions, check out NFL.com's analysts' picks.

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On Twitter: #SEAvsWAS, #NFLPlayoffs

Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @JeffDarlington.

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