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NFL Wild Card Playoffs - Jan. 5-6

Bengals vs Texans | Colts vs Ravens | Vikings vs Packers | Seahawks vs Redskins


No. 5 Seattle Seahawks (11-5) at No. 4 Washington Redskins (10-6)

Sunday, January 6 - 4:30pm et/1:30pm pt on CTV



Game Preview: Rookie QBs take centre stage

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)- How convenient. Those who can't decide between Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson are literally getting a playoff.

RG3 or RW3? They've only had two of the best two rookie seasons for quarterbacks in NFL history, according to the numbers. Time to compare and contrast as much as possible Sunday as Griffin's Washington Redskins host Wilson's Seattle Seahawks in the NFC's wild-card round.

"I don't play against quarterbacks. It's not my job to compare us," Griffin told reporters this week. "You guys will do that. ... I hope you guys have fun."

OK, Robert, we'll take you up on that. Hey, Redskins Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams, why is your guy better than theirs?

"I definitely would take his hair over Russell Wilson's hair," Williams said. "He's taller. He has a couple of more endorsements than Russell does. That gives you grounds enough to take RG3 over Wilson. Way cooler TV commercials."

Funny, but there might be some truth to that, at least when it comes to getting one's due. Griffin has the dreadlocks. Wilson has the regular, clean-cut hairdo. Griffin is in your face with his Gatorade commercials and the ubiquitous Subway spots. Wilson did a more subtle bit for Levi's.

Griffin won a Heisman Trophy, was the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, was anointed as starter from Day 1 of training camp and was selected as a team captain at midseason. Wilson was a third-round pick who had to wrest the starting job from big-contract free agent Matt Flynn. Griffin's jersey is the No. 1 seller across the NFL this season, while Wilson's is a mere No. 19.

Griffin's slogan is "No pressure, no diamonds." Wilson's is "Separation is in the preparation." Unlike Griffin, Wilson hasn't bothered to trademark it.

RG3's nickname stands alone . Wilson might have been "HW4" had he been born earlier, but it's his older brother who got the name Harrison Wilson IV. Wilson also has "DangeRuss" -- which he includes in his Twitter handle -- while "RW3" is an upstart attempt to play around with Wilson's jersey number.

Griffin is charisma personified, always ready with a humorous quip and the ready-made sound bite. Wilson can be engaging but often speaks in cliches. Or, as he put it: "I'm not about flash."

Previous Matchups
Nov. 27, 2011 WSH 23 @ SEA 17
Nov. 23, 2008 WSH 20 @ SEA 17
Jan. 5, 2008 WSH 14 @ SEA 35

Then there is geography. Griffin plays in the nation's capital for a franchise that was winning titles back in the 1930s. Wilson is up there somewhere in the far corner of the map, toiling for a team born in the 1970s and without a Super Bowl trophy to its name.

And, yet, for all those differences, Griffin and Wilson are actually quite similar. Both run the zone-read option, adding a dynamic that could revolutionize quarterback play in the NFL. Both have earned locker room respect by being studious and respectful, by showing leadership without appearing entitled. Wilson's 100 passer rating would have set the new standard for rookie QBs if Griffin hadn't posted a 102.4.

Want a challenge? Pick a random quote about either one and try to figure out whom it describes.

"He has a lot of the intangibles you look for in a quarterback. He's really a class act. He's handled himself extremely well and a fun guy to talk to. ... He's got the intangibles you look for. He's a natural leader as well. He's playing some good football."

For the record, that was Shanahan talking about Wilson.

Sunday's game will be the second in NFL playoff history with two starting rookie quarterbacks, but this is a case where both the winner and loser are expected to prosper. Because of RG3 and RW3 (or whatever nickname sticks for Wilson), the Redskins and Seahawks have a chance to be very good for a very long time.

"Even though they have totally different styles in how they carry themselves," Carroll said, "in the core, they're really the real deal."

Players To Watch
Richard Sherman - Cornerback

The Seahawks got a big boost for the playoffs when the NFL overturned Sherman's four game suspension last week. Sherman at 6-foot-3 and Brandon Browner, who is returning from his own suspension, at 6-foot-4 form one of the most imposing cornerback tandems in the NFL. They will be key to shutting down RG3 and the Redskin's passing attack.

Alfred Morris - Running Back

In most years Morris would quite literally have run away with rookie of the year. The Redskins sixth round pick in last year's draft finished second in the NFL in rushing with 1,613 yards but is largely overshadowed by other rookies including his teammate RG3. Morris has his work cut out for him this week against a stout Seahawks defence.


The Seahawks win if...

In recent years, teams that entered the playoffs on a roll rode that momentum to a Super Bowl victory. If this season follows suit, Pete Carroll and the Seahawks will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in February.

2012 Team Stats
Points SEA 25.8
WSH 27.3
Pass Yards SEA 189.4
WSH 213.9
Rush Yards SEA 161.2
WSH 169.3
Points Allowed SEA 15.3
WSH 24.3
Pass Yds Allowed SEA 203.1
WSH 281.9
Rush Yds Allowed SEA 103.1
WSH 95.8

No team playing in wildcard weekend has been winning in the convincing fashion that Seattle has, outscoring their opponents 170-43 over the final four games. If Seattle gets the type of play that they have grown accustom to the last few weeks, even the magic of Robert Griffin III won't be enough to save the Redskins.

The Seahawks' defensive line is as dominant a front four as there is in the NFL this season. With Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane, Alan Branch controlling the trenches, teams are unable to cope as Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin attack off the edge. The Redskins' offensive line is simply not skilled enough to deal with the Seahawks' line. Unless the Redskins find a way to buy time, rolling Griffin and his knee brace out of the pocket, it could be a long afternoon for Washington's offence.

The Seahawks will be without one of their biggest contributors on Sunday - the 12th Man. For as well as Seattle played in 2012, away from home the Seahawks were a mere 3-5, with one of their wins coming against the Bills in Toronto. While they enter wildcard weekend on a five-game winning streak, including two victories on the road), it will be up to Russell Wilson to show that his team has overcome their early season road woes.

The Redskins win if...

With Griffin slowed by the knee brace, the Redskins will have to get creative to put points on the board against a very potent Seahawks' defence. Washington kept things fairly simple last week and the Cowboys were unable to take advantage.

Seattle will not be so easily deceived. The Redskins leaned on their running game a week ago, another area where the Seahawks may be able to cause them problems. Finding a way to grind out points against a team that has made a habit of keeping their opponents off the board will be the first order of business on Sunday.

The Redskins dealt with injuries to their defence early in the year, but they have overcome that adversity and did just enough to reach the post-season. Energized by the home crowd, Washington's defence will need to be up to the challenge of combating a Seahawks' offence that can attack from all angles. Having Cedric Griffin back will be another shot in the arm as the Redskins will need all hands on deck in this contest.

The Redskins have been vulnerable when it comes to covering tight ends and the Seahawks have shown a willingness to throw to the open receiver, no matter who it is. With Zach Miller and Anthony McCoy seeing plenty of action, the Redskins will need to account for the tight ends breaking off the line. Washington has allowed at least five receptions to their opponents' tight end in 11 games this season, while starting tight ends caught eight touchdowns against the Redskins. Miller and McCoy have six touchdowns between them on the season and Washington will need their safeties to account for them on Sunday.

Team Leaders

Seattle
Passing Russell Wilson 64.1% 3,118 Yds 26 TD 10 INT
Receiving Sidney Rice 50 Rec 748 Yds 15.0 Avg 7
Rushing Marshawn Lynch 315 Att 1,590 5.0 11
Tackles Bobby Wagner 85 Solo 54 Ast 139 Tot 2 Sacks
Sacks Chris Clemons 11.5 Sacks 40 Tkl 3 FF 1 FR
Interceptions Richard Sherman 8 INT 57 Yds 7.1 Avg 1 TD

Washington
Passing Robert Griffin III 65.6% 3,200 Yds 20 TD 5 INT
Receiving Pierre Garcon 44 Rec 633 Yds 14.4 Avg 4 TD
Rushing Alfred Morris 335 Att 1,613 Yds 4.8 Avg 13 TD
Tackles London Fletcher 78 Solo 61 Ast 139 Tot 3 Sacks
Sacks Ryan Kerrigan 8.5 Sacks 54 Tkl 2 FF 1 FR
Interceptions London Fletcher 5 INT 29 Yds 5.8 Avg 0 TD


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