Seahawks vs. Redskins: Seattle Defense Will Be Difference in Wild-Card Matchup

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2013

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 4: Red Bryant #79 of the Seattle Seahawks tackles Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings as Kyle Rudolph #82 tries to block during play at CenturyLink Field on November 4, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

When the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins take the field in the final wildcard matchup of the NFL postseason, it will be so much more than Russell Wilson versus Robert Griffin III.

In fact, they won't be the biggest factor in the game. That distinction belongs to the Seahawks defense.

Offensively, these two teams are almost identical.

They both feature quarterbacks that represent the future of the position. Mobile, accurate and wise beyond their years, there's no way that this is the last time we see Wilson and Griffin meet one another in the playoffs.

However, neither rely too heavily on the pass. In fact, they are both run-first teams.

The Seahawks boast one of the league's best all-around running backs in Marshawn Lynch and aren't afraid to involve Wilson in the running game with zone-read look and designed rollouts.

The Redskins have an equally dynamic rusher in rookie Alfred Morris running the patented outside zone play that Mike Shanahan teams have become known for. Add in the dimension of Griffin running read plays and Washington has the league's most dangerous ground game.

Where these two teams differ, however, is the caliber of defense.

Washington's defense has been serviceable this season. The unit specializes in stopping the run and is efficient in that category—they are fifth in league giving up an average of 95.8 yards per game.

However, the Redskins struggle to stop the pass. They give up 281.9 yards per game (30th in the league) and that can be attributed partially to a lack of a pass rush.

With Brian Orakpo out of the lineup, Ryan Kerrigan has stepped up as the team's most prolific pass rusher and he has 8.5 sacks on the season. The lack of pass rush could prove to be a deciding factor against a quarterback like Wilson who has the ability to hurt teams with his legs.

Conversely, the Seahawks are one of the truly dominant defenses in the league.

It ranks in the top ten of the league against both the run and the pass and allows just 15.3 points per game—making them the stingiest defense in the entire league.

Yes, Robert Griffin III is an elite talent that forces defenses into situations they don't want to be in but the Seahawks front has the athletes to contain Griffin III while playing great coverage behind the pressure.

One look at what the Seattle Seahawks did to the 49ers rising star Colin Kaepernick is all one needs to see to know that this defense has what it takes to handle the new brand of quarterback.

The Seahawks badgered Kaepernick into a 19-of-36 performance with an interception and limited him 31 yards on seven carries as Seattle upset the highly touted 49ers 42-13.

Don't expect the Seahawks to walk away with this one easily. The Redskins are a very good football team and this game is on the road. However, the defense should be the thing that puts them over the top and into the second round.