The NFL and the networks saved the best for last: in what is probably the most fascinating game of the entire weekend, two fine rookie quarterbacks face off in the
nation’s capital Maryland as Russell Wilson travels to meet Robert Griffin. This will be the first home playoff game for the Redskins in 14 years as they attempt to avenge playoff losses to Seattle in 2005 and 2007.
The key to this game will be how effective each team is in the running game, or perhaps more accurately in how well they defend against the run. Not only do the Seahawks and Redskins both rank in the top five in rushing offenses (Washington is 1st with 169 yards per game and 2nd with 5.2 yards per carry; Seattle is 3rd with 161 yards per game and 5th with 4.8 yards per carry) but they both also rank near the top in rushing defense (Washington is 5th with 96 yards per game and 13th at 4.2 yards per carry; Seattle is 10th with 103 yards per game but 23rd at 4.5 yards per carry). However, when looking at how each team performed this season against top-10 rushing defenses, Seattle ran for 143.5 yards per game (4 games) while Washington only ran for 119.5 yards per game (2 games); Seattle did not have nearly as much difficulty with stout defenses as Washington did. Also, if Seattle does try throwing the ball, they will be doing it against a porous pass defense in the league (30th-ranked with 282 pass yards allowed per game) in Washington. Seattle has not won a road playoff game since 1983, but this team has little resemblance to those past Seahawk teams; they should have an excellent chance to change that stat on Sunday at FedEx Field.
11-5 Seattle Seahawks at 10-6 Washington Redskins
Sunday, January 6 at 4:30 ET
FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland
TV: FOX – announcers are Joe Buck and Troy Aikman
Forecast: Mid-40s at kickoff, mid-30s after sunset; 10% chance of rain
Odds: Seahawks favored by 3; over/under 46
Seattle’s offense would appear to have a vast edge over Washington’s defense; consider some of these stats comparing the two:
– 3rd Down: Seattle offense 40.2% (12th); Washington defense 44.2% (32nd)
– Red Zone Scoring: Seattle 57.4% (10th); Washington 57.7% (24th)
– Points per game: Seattle 25.8 (9th); Washington 24.2 (22nd)
– Yards per game: Seattle 351 (17th); Washington 378 (28th)
– Yards per play: Seattle 5.8 (9th); Washington 5.9 (26th)
– Points per play: Seattle .423 (6th); Washington .376 (21st)
When comparing the rankings in reverse, that is of Washington’s offense to Seattle’s defense, they were virtually the same in every category; the sole exception was 3rd down efficiency – and that favored Seattle.
When you break it down further to compare the Washington rushing offense versus the Seattle run defense it does appear that the Redskins have a bit of an advantage:
– Rushing yards per game: Washington offense 169 (1st); Seattle defense 103 (10th)
– Yards per carry: Washington 5.2 (2nd); Seattle 4.5 (23rd)
At first glance it appears that the Redskins run defense isn’t that bad, but much of that is due to the fact that they face the fewest rushing attempts per game (22.7) in the NFL; that has more to do with their poor pass defense than a good run defense.
– Rushing yards per game: Seattle offense 161 (3rd); Washington defense 96 (5th)
– Rush attempts per game: Seattle 33.5 (1st); Washington 22.7 (32nd)
– Yards per carry: Seattle 4.8 (5th); Washington 4.2 (17th)
Similarly the Seattle passing game doesn’t have gaudy stats, but that is due to their running the ball so much – which means they don’t throw that often.
– Passing yards per game: Seattle offense 189 (27th); Washington defense 282 (30th)
However, when they do throw the ball they are efficient:
– Yards per pass: Seattle 7.5 (5th); Washington 7.1 (23rd)
– Completion percentage: Seattle 64% (8th); Washington 62% (19th)
On the other side of the ball when passing the stats are pretty good for both sides. I just question if RGIII will still be effective against a defense that is so solid from front to back, in the pass rush as well as coverage, as Seattle is.
One more thing: though the Redskins defense is much maligned, they have improved: since the bye week they are allowing 20 points per game; their defensive stats are somewhat skewed after allowing 28 points per game in their first nine games.
Lastly, in terms of turnovers and penalties there are no wide margins in the stats; both teams rank high in takeaways, giveaways, and turnover margin.
– This will be just the second playoff game in NFL history with two starting rookie quarterbacks; the first was last year when T.J. Yates led Texans to a 31-10 victory over Andy Dalton and Bengals.
– Griffin (102.4) and Wilson (100) had the two best single-season rookie passer ratings in NFL history. Wilson’s rating was also the best in Seahawks history; the previous best was Matt Hasselbeck‘s 98.2 in 2005 when Seattle went to the Super Bowl.
– Wilson threw 26 touchdown passes, which tied Peyton Manning‘s NFL rookie record set in 1998. He was first rookie quarterback in league history to win all eight home games.
– Wilson has a 17-to-2 TD-to-INT ratio over the last eight games, and Seattle has gone 7-1 in that span.
– Griffin set an NFL record for yards rushing by a rookie quarterback (815), and is only player in NFL history to rush for 750-plus yards and also have a passer rating of 100 or better.
– Washington rookie RB Alfred Morris finished second with franchise-record 1,613 yards. Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch ranked third with career-high 1,590 yards.
– Washington led the NFL with 88 runs of 10-plus yards.
– Lynch’s total was third in Seattle team history behind Shaun Alexander in 2005 (1,880) and 2004 (1,696). Morris’ total was third most by a rookie in NFL history, behind Eric Dickerson (1,808 in 1983) and George Rogers (1,674 in 1981).
– Seattle ran an NFL-high 55% of time; the Redskins were second at 52.2%.
– Seattle has won five straight, outscoring their opponents 193-60; Washington has won seven straight, outscoring their opponents 210-140.
– The Redskins are the first team since the Jaguars in 1996 to reach the playoffs after starting 3-6.
– Seattle is in playoffs for seventh time in 10 seasons; Washington is in the playoffs for just fourth time in 20 years.
– Seattle has lost eight straight road playoff games, with their only road playoff coming in their first postseason road game on Dec. 31, 1983 at Miami. That losing streak is second longest in NFL behind Detroit.
– Seattle was number one in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 15.3 points per game; they also allowed an NFL-best 23 touchdown drives, none shorter than 40 yards.
– Opposing QBs had an NFL-low 67.7 passer rating versus the Seattle defense inside 30-yard line.
– On the other hand the Seattle defense was worst in NFL on third-and-long (10-plus yards), allowing teams to convert 33.8% of the time.
– Seattle has the top pass defense in the NFL when blitzing, holding opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating of 59.5; however, the Redskins have best pass offense in NFL when being blitzed, with a 141.5 passer rating.
– The highest ranked defense Washington beat this year was Philadelphia’s, which ranked 15th in the NFL; the Redskins went 0-3 vs. top-10 defenses, losing to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Carolina.
– Seattle had five players selected to the Pro Bowl: RB Marshawn Lynch, T Russell Okung, S Earl Thomas, C Max Unger and KR/PR Leon Washington.
– Washington’s Pro Bowl selections were QB Robert Griffin, special teams player Lorenzo Alexander and T Trent Williams.
Please note that neither I nor this website am in any way advocating, promoting or recommending gambling. This is solely for entertainment purposes. It is just something I do for fun to test myself on my knowledge of the NFL. If you have a gambling problem get help; call 1-888-ADMIT-IT.
Prediction: Seahawks 24, Redskins 16
– final score: Seahawks 24, Redskins 14… √
Seahawks -3 (three units)… √
Under 46 (two units)… √
This Day In Patriots History
January 6, 1989:
John Stephens was named the 1988 NFL Rookie of the Year
January 6, 2002:
New England Patriots 38, Carolina Panthers 6 at Ericson Stadium
The Patriots won their sixth consecutive game and surprised the so-called experts who earlier in the year were declaring the Pats to be the worst team in the league, as New England won their first division title since 1997. Few witnessed the game live as the vast majority of seats were empty in Carolina as George Seifert’s tenure as head coach of the Panthers came to an inglorious end.
The Patriots finished the season 11-5 and earned a first-round bye; the 11 wins tied a franchise record for most wins in the regular season; it had been done five previous times, most recently in 1996.
The victory marked the third time in six seasons that the Patriots won the AFC East title.
Troy Brown had six receptions, which gave him 101 for the year; he was the first player in franchise history to have more than 100 catches in a single season. Brown also had a 69-yard punt return for a touchdown in the 3rd quarter that gave the Pats a 17-3 lead; it was the 7th touchdown of the year for Brown, a career high for him.
Antowain Smith had a 32-yard touchdown run that gave the Patriots a 24-6 lead in the 3rd quarter. Smith finished the season with 13 touchdowns (12 rushing, one receiving) and 1,349 yards from scrimmage (1,157 yards rushing, 192 receiving); not bad for a player that the Bills felt was washed up. Smith would go on to run for 204 yards in three playoff games, being a vital part of the offense that won the franchise’s first Super Bowl.
Ty Law had a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown, which gave the Pats a 10-0 1st quarter lead. The pick six gave Law two touchdowns on the year – the only time he ever accomplished that feat.
Otis Smith finished the scoring with a 76-yard return of an interception of a touchdown. He too had two touchdowns in 2001, which was also a career-best.
The Patriots defense harassed Carolina quarterback Chris Weinke all day; Weinke finished the game with just 15 completions in 36 attempts for 144 yards, with no touchdowns and three interceptions; overall the Pats defense forced six turnovers. Despite the poor performance Weinke finished the year with 2,931 yards passing on the year; at that point in time it was the second most in NFL history for a rookie, second only to Peyton Manning’s 3,739 yards in 1998.
Brown made the Pro Bowl for the only time in his career in the 2001 season. Troy was one of four Patriots that made the Pro Bowl in 2001; the others were Tom Brady, Lawyer Milloy and Ty Law.
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January 6, 1975:
When I was a senior in high school tickets went on sale for a Led Zeppelin concert at Boston Garden. This was an absolute must see, so a bunch of us told our parents that we were sleeping over a friend’s house, and we all went in to get in line over night for the best tickets.
You read about the event now and the story is that someone waiting in line broke locks on a door, and got into the Garden – but that is not what happened. It was cold and snow was starting to fall, so somebody there opened up the doors and let us wait inside so we wouldn’t freeze our butts off and get sick.
Once inside the stories you may read are pretty much correct. Somebody broke into one of the concession stands, and lo and behold – free beer for everyone! That couldn’t possibly lead to any problems, right? (/sarcasm). Yeah, some
people idiots became rather truculent and violent, tearing chairs off the moorings in the dirty old palace and causing a lot of mayhem… needless to say, not a good thing.
Eventually they decided they needed to get rid of us, but throwing us back outside would just probably lead to some more vandalism. So they opened up the ticket windows (I think this was around 2 or 3 a.m.), we got our tickets, and drove home as some very happy campers.
The next day the spit hit the fan of course. Turns out there was about $50,000 worth of damage … and of course, questions from mom and dad about where I really was the previous night. There was one genuine bitch on the Boston Licensing Board – sorry, I can’t remember her name – but she made it her personal crusade to get even with anyone and everyone that enjoyed rock music from that point forward. Officially the show was cancelled by Mayor Kevin White, but this woman would make it next to impossible for any big name act to get a license to play at the Garden for the next several years. I recall the Stones and some other groups being denied a license to play there in the late 70’s, although it was not as if they did not allow any concerts there.
After the infamous riot Led Zeppelin was Banned in Boston for five years. The group never played again anywhere in the Boston area during that time, and five years later drummer John Bonham died – and the group disbanded.
Of all the hundreds of musical acts that I have had the pleasure of seeing in my life there is one glaring omission: Led Zeppelin. And I had tickets in my hands to see them…
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