Both the Seattle Seahawks and the Washington Redskins went on late-season runs to make the playoffs, making their wild-card matchup a clash of two of the NFL’s hottest teams.
The Seahawks have been the NFL's best team the past five weeks. They've won five straight, including three wins by more than 28 points.
Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle rushing attack are the focal point of the Seahawks’ offense, but Russell Wilson has steered the team throughout, looking like anything but a rookie.
But, it's the Seahawks swarming, physical defense that is the backbone of this team.
The Seahawks defense is fourth in the league in yards allowed, and the group hasn't surrendered more than 28 points in eight weeks.
After nine weeks the Redskins sat at 3-6. Now seven games later, Washington sits at 10-6 and NFC East champions.
It's been a magical run as rookies Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris have been nothing short of spectacular. They both steer the Redskins’ college-style zone-read attack that has given teams fits.
It's a battle between two rookie quarterbacks and two of the NFL's best backs. It should be an outstanding matchup.
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland
When: Sunday, Jan. 6 at 4:30 p.m. ET
What's At Stake:
A spot in the second round, nothing important or anything.
All kidding aside, this is a huge game for both teams. For the Seahawks, it’s the first game in their path toward the Super Bowl.
Seattle has the talent and the balance to make it to New Orleans for the big game; they just have to fight through three games to do so.
This is also a huge game for Wilson. If he can lead the Seahawks to a playoff victory as a rookie the sky is the limit for the former baseball player. He will instantly be the most popular athlete in Seattle since Ken Griffey Jr.
For Washington, it's about the same. The Redskins haven't won a playoff game since 2005, and the fans are hungry for a victory.
RG3 is already the biggest thing in Washington, well except for that president guy. If he can lead the Redskins to a playoff win, the legend will only continue to grow.
What They're Saying:
All the talk in this game surrounds the matchup of rookie QB's, and rightfully so. It's a fantastic story, and should be a heck of a showdown to watch.
The people behind Pro Football Weekly seem to agree.
The Redskins are playing their first playoff game at home since 1999. Heck of a difference that Griffin guy makes huh?
Key Matchup: RG3 vs. Russell Wilson
One rookie quarterback in the playoffs is rare, two matching up in the playoffs is almost unheard of.
To be fair to both Griffin and Wilson, neither one of them plays anything like a rookie. Actually, both look like 10-year vets.
And both teams need that to continue in order to reach the second round.
For Wilson, that means playing steady, turnover-free football. His job is to hand the ball off to Lynch and occasionally loft one of his picture-perfect floaters downfield for a big play.
Griffin has a little more on his plate.
The Redskins rely on his speed and throwing accuracy to make their offense work. His work with the option is beautiful, as his fakes freeze pursuit and speed frustrates it. Then, when he's asked to throw his pinpoint accuracy allows the Redskins to move downfield with a surgeon-like precision.
Whichever team takes the opposing QB out of his comfort zone will have the advantage.
Both the Seahawks and the Redskins are on a roll entering the playoffs. Each team relies on an accurate quarterback and a bruising back to do their damage.
However, Seattle has one thing Washington doesn't, a dominant defense. The Seahawks are fourth in the NFL in yards allowed a game while the Redskins are 30th.
That will be the difference.
Seattle 28, Washington 17