Seattle (-3) at Washington
Wild Card Weekend's Rookie of the Year Bowl, with three candidates for the honor battling it out on Sunday afternoon, is the contest I've been drooling over since the schedule was released last weekend. Washington is the weekend's only home 'dog, which is a rational spread considering how terrific Seattle has looked this season.
We're talking about a Seahawks team that scored over 40 points three times out of the last four weeks of the season, going over 50 twice. Most impressively, without a doubt, was a 42-13 thrashing of the 49ers at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, undoubtedly the toughest place to play in the NFL.
If this game was in that building, I'd be picking the 'Hawks by two touchdowns.
What can you really say about RG3 that hasn't already been said? The dude burst into the professional ranks and was immediately the most athletically gifted, fascinating, fun-to-watch player in the league.
He's been all that the Redskins could ask for and so much more, validating the eye-opening package of draft picks they traded to get him with the second overall pick. There's about 28 other teams that wish they had traded the house for him now.
Add in rookie RB Alfred Morris, who has rushed for over 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns, and you have the best rookie QB/RB combo that I've ever witnessed.
On the defensive side of the ball, veteran LB London Fletcher is perhaps one of the most underrated players in NFL history, and has led the team in tackles for forever and a freakin' day. For a little perspective, Fletcher has 1,685 career tackles, compared to Ray Lewis' 1,336. Lewis is a seven-time first-team All-Pro and was selected to the Pro Bowl 13 times.
Shamefully, Fletcher has never been selected as a first-team All-Pro and has only three Pro Bowls on his resume. Like I said, he's one of the most underrated to ever play the game. Just ask his teammates.
With all this gushing over Washington, you'd think I was picking the 'Skins, but you would be wrong.
I think the two best defenses in football are Seattle and the 49ers, and I have no doubt that the league's best secondary is these Seahawks. With the return of cornerback Brandon Browner to pair with Pro-Bowl snub Richard Sherman, paired with stellar safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, this unit is big, strong and plays with a nasty streak.
They are edgy and intimidating and fly all over the field. They are the league's sixth-ranked pass defense. I don't see Griffin having much success through the air today. Seattle is also very tough against the run, although I'm sure the 'Skins awesome running attack will do some damage.
When it's all said and done, I'm riding with the Seattle defense, QB Russell Wilson and the indomitable Marshawn Lynch. While the 'Skins have the fifth-best run defense in the league, I can't see Lynch doing anything but being the complete and utter beast that he is on game day.
Throw in Washington's porous pass defense (ranked 30th), and I think Wilson will find weapons like Sidney Rice and Golden Tate just enough to pull out the win. This game is what playoff football is all about. In my best Bart Scott voice, "Can't wait!!!"
PICK: Seattle 24, Washington 20