Sunday's NFC Wild Card clash between the NFC North champion Washington Redskins and the Wild Card Seattle Seahawks will be decided by which rookie quarterback outperforms the other.
Both Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson have been sensational this season and are in the running for Rookie of the Year honors. But only one can come out on the winning end on Wild Card Weekend.
Here we'll project how both first-year signal-callers will fare in Sunday's high-stakes showdown.
Robert Griffin III
RG3 hasn't been the same runner since spraining his knee last month, but nonetheless the former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback is a tremendous playmaker from the pocket and in situations where he's rolling out or faking out the defense via the read option.
Sunday could potentially be Griffin's toughest matchup to date, though. The Seahawks defense ranked well against the pass this season, giving up just 203 yards and a touchdown through the air per game.
RG3 will have to exercise plenty of patience on Sunday evening, being sure to keep the ball away from Seattle's playmaking secondary, which has recorded 18 interceptions in 16 games this season. The good news for Griffin: He will hopefully be able to lean on the strength of his No. 1-ranked rushing attack, led by phenomenal rookie running back Alfred Morris, who rushed for more than 1,600 yards this year.
Still, Seattle ranks in the top 10 in run defense and has the potential to slow Morris down. And although I don't believe the Seahawks will shut down Washington's running game completely, I like them to have enough success against it to force RG3 into tough situations.
Projection: 13-of-25, 175 yards, one touchdown, one interception, five rushes, 40 yards
Although Russell Wilson has flown under the radar this season when compared to Robert Griffin III, he, not RG3, is primed for a breakout performance on Sunday in Landover.
While the former No. 2 overall pick will be pitted against one of the NFL's most fearsome secondaries, Wilson, a third-round draft pick in 2012, will face off against one of the worst pass defenses in the entire league. Washington ranked 30th in the NFL this past regular season in passing yards allowed, and only Philadelphia surrendered more touchdowns through the air.
Of course, the Redskins secondary will step its game up for the postseason, but still, it's incredibly vulnerable to the pass.
Like RG3, though, Wilson will have a sturdy running game to lean on Sunday. Running back Marshawn Lynch rushed for 1,590 yards this season, and will help provide balance for Pete Carroll's offense.
With Lynch's help, I think Wilson and the Seattle offense will do just enough damage to survive on the road. Wilson is facing a much better matchup compared to Griffin, and I believe that will make the difference on Sunday.
Projection: 15-of-20, 230 yards, two touchdowns, six rushes, 50 yards
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