The Seattle Seahawks and Washington will meet in primetime on Monday Night Football in Week 5.
The Seattle Seahawks took on Washington in the 2012 NFL Playoffs. It was a game that featured prominent rookie quarterbacks in Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III, and it was a showcase for the new breed. Two seasons later, Wilson is quarterbacking the defending Super Bowl champions while Griffin is on the sidelines tending to an injury.
Seattle isn’t faring too poorly this season, either. The Seahawks fell to the San Diego Chargers in Week 2, their lone road game to this point, which shocked many. But the Chargers have played well since then so the loss doesn’t look so bad. The Seahawks have beaten the Green Bay Packers and the Denver Broncos this season, two solid teams. They’re also coming off a bye week.
Washington, on the other hand, is struggling. The Houston Texans beat them soundly in Week 1, the Philadelphia Eagles took a close game in Week 3 and they were dominated by the New York Giants in Week 4. The lone win was a dominant 41-10 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Oddly enough, Washington shows well on paper. With 292.3 passing yards per game (4th in the NFL), 123.0 rushing yards per game (12th), 237.3 passing yards allowed per game (14th) and 87.0 rushing yards allowed per game (8th), Washington really should be better off than 1-3 on the season. The close game against Philadelphia was a disappointment, and the blowout at the hands of the Giants was out of the ordinary.
Kirk Cousins is playing decent football in place of Griffin. He’s completed 71 of 114 passes, good for a completion percentage of 62.3, and has put up 934 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions. Alfred Morris is running the ball well with 71 carries for 316 yards and three touchdowns.
Seattle’s vaunted pass defense hasn’t played particularly well thus far this season but then again, they’ve faced Rivers, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning. It’s difficult to think of three quarterbacks to better test a pass defense, so they’ll get a pass for now. The Seahawks pass defense allows 249.0 passing yards per game on average, but just 72.3 rushing yards per game on average, so Morris could be in for a rough day.
Who to watch
Alfred Morris: The young running back ranks fifth in the NFL with 316 yards, against some tough run defenses. But none of those compare with Seattle. Washington likely doesn’t want Cousins to hit career highs in pass attempts against this defense, so Morris should see plenty of action early and often.
Marshawn Lynch: While Lynch hasn’t played as well as Morris, the Seahawks still depend on him. He picked up 132 yards and a touchdown when these two teams met in the playoffs back in 2012, and the Seahawks will be hoping for more of the same. Lynch has 234 yards this season.
Kam Chancellor: Seattle’s Chancellor is one of the key components to what should be the best secondary in the NFL. But he’s been dealing with an ankle injury since the game against San Diego, and that could be one reason the pass defense hasn’t looked the same. Chancellor practiced this past week and is a definite player to watch both against Cousins and against the run.
How to watch
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
When: 8:30 p.m. ET
Announcers: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
FedEx Field is generally regarded as having a strong fan experience, but it’s outdated and in need of a replacement. The field conditions have been the subject of many headlines over the past few years, though there haven’t been any complaints this season. Washington isn’t particularly strong at home, with a losing record there over its last 17 games.
The Seahawks opened up as significant favorites over Washington. The opening line had Seattle favored by seven points, but some books had them favored by as much as 9.5 points, according to OddsShark.
SB Nation’s panel of seven experts is nearly unanimous on this game. Ryan Van Bibber, Stephen White, Joel Thorman, David Fucillo, Danny Kelly and Matt Ufford all picked the Seahawks to win big, while PFT Commenter, who marches to the beat of his own drum, is picking Washington. For all of the Week 5 picks, go here.