Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Round 1: Seahawks Playoff Breakdown

The Seahawks completed a very successful regular season, finishing with an 8-0 record at home en route to an 11-5 overall finish. This was not quite good enough to win the division, but was strong enough to earn the Hawks the fifth seed in the NFC playoffs. The rest of the seeding is as follows.

1. Falcons (bye)
2. 49ers (bye)
3. Packers
4. Redskins
5. Seahawks
6. Vikings

This means that in the first round, the Seahawks draw Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins. Because the red-hot Redskins won their division, they get to play at home and the Hawks will have to go on the road, where they went only 3-5 in the regular season. That being said, the Seahawks have been playing much better on the road recently. Both teams are considered a tough out in the playoffs because of their current winning streaks, and strong rookie quarterbacks.

RGIII will look to make some plays against the Seattle Defense. He is coming off an injured knee, although he looked good last week against Dallas.
US Presswire

The NFL is a league based on matchups, and those become all the more important in the playoffs when every game is win or go home. The Seahawks and the Redskins have a very intriguing matchup, because of their similar offenses. Both teams have mobile but accurate quarterbacks, have an above average run game, and have used the read option as a dangerous weapon in recent weeks. While most people would consider the rookie quarterback the most dangerous part of the Redskins offense, surprisingly, that is not quite the case. RGIII is an excellent runner who can keep defenses from over-playing the pass. But he has help as well, big help in the form of running back Alfred Morris. Morris and RGIII have combined to lead the Redskins to the number one rushing attack in the NFL, and scored 28 points against the Cowboys last week while managing only 100 yards passing.

These two rookies the key to their offense, as everybody now knows. Not only do they eat up yards, but they set up the play action very well for Griffin. The play-action works so well, that Robert Griffin III is in the top five in the entire league in completion percentage, yards, and touchdowns from the play-action. To counter, the Seahawks have the best defense in the NFL right now, and have the personnel to stop the run and the pass. With previously suspended cornerback Brandon Browner back, and top cover-corner Richard Sherman, the Hawks can leave their two corners isolated on the outside, leaving more defenders to help with the run game. Sherman and Browner can shut down any pair of receivers, which allows safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas to play a bigger role in stopping the run. I believe that the Seahawks have the perfect defense to slow and potentially shut down the potent Redskins offense. One thing to keep an eye on in this game is how well RGIII’s knee holds up. That could hurt the Redskins at times.

The Legion of BOOM will be on their "A" game Sunday with the addition of Brandon Browner back into the lineup.

The Seahawks have an advantage on the offensive side of the ball as well, because the Redskins defense lacks playmakers. Without injured pass-rushers Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo, the only star defenders on the Redskins are cornerback DeAngelo Hall and linebacker London Fletcher. The Seahawks will be able to use their up-front skill at the receiver position and read option (a type of run in which the quarterback “reads” one of the defensive players and decides whether to keep it himself or give it to the running back) to exploit the weaker defenders on the Redskins and come up with big plays on offense. Along with a successful special teams unit, I would say that the Seahawks have the advantage on every side of the ball against the Redskins.

The only thing stopping the ‘Hawks, is the fact that they have to travel cross country and play on the road, a situation in which they have not been very successful at this year. However, the game is on a Sunday which means that the Seahawks will get an extra day of rest, but so do the Redskins. Taking all of these factors in to consideration, I predict that the Seahawks will pull out a relatively tough victory against the Redskins, winning 27-23.

A victory against the Redskins would mean that the Seahawks would play either the Falcons or 49ers in the second round of the playoffs, depending on who wins the other wild card game between the Packers and Vikings. I believe that the Packers will be able to defeat the Vikings because of their powerful home field advantage, and the fact that I just don’t think Christian Ponder will be able to outplay Aaron Rodgers two weeks in a row. This would mean that the Packers would go to San Francisco to play the 49ers, and we would go to Atlanta to play the Falcons.

The Seahawks have a long road ahead of them and will most likely be seen wearing these jerseys throughout the entire playoffs.
AP Photo/Mike Groll

While many people don’t believe in Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons, I believe that they are legit, and that they have a chance to go far in this year’s playoffs. Still, I think the ‘Hawks match up very well against the Falcons dynamic passing attack because of our incredible defensive backfield, often referred to as the “Legion of BOOM.” I think Sherman and Browner will be able to contain dynamic Falcons receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, which would allow the rest of the defense to focus their attention on tight end Tony Gonzalez and running back Michael Turner. The Hawks have the perfect defense to take away quarterback Matt Ryan’s top three options, and I believe they will come out of that game with a victory as well.

If the Seahawks could beat the Falcons in the second round of the playoffs, they would play either the 49ers or Packers in the third round, both of which are teams we have beaten earlier in the season. Both of those games were played at Century Link Field, but if the ‘Hawks had already won two straight playoff games on the road, I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t win one more against a team that they have already beaten. While it would be a difficult road, winning three straight road games, I would not be surprised, and in fact I would even predict the Seahawks completing such a task and getting to the Super Bowl. It will be a fun playoff run.

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Oh, and here's something to leave you with on this first Tuesday of 2013. Enjoy it.

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