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Seahawks Present Major Challenge for Redskins

The Redskins enter this year's playoffs as the league's 8th strongest team, according to analysis by Brian Burke at Advanced NFL Stats. The cloud in the silver lining: their opponent tomorrow ranks third.

The key difference between the two teams is defense. The Redskins have the league's 5th most efficient offense, according to Burke; the Seahawks rank 4th. But, while Washington's defense ended the season 24th, Seattle's defenders ranked 6th.

Both teams boast potent passing attacks. Washington has the league's third most efficient passing game, averaging 7.2 yards per passing attempt. Seattle is 7th at 6.9 yards per attempt. The Redskins were better at avoiding interceptions -- their QBs threw picks on 1.8% of their throws (4th best) to Seattle's 2.5% (13th). League average yards per pass attempt: 6.3. Average interception rate: 2.6%.

Both teams are also effective running the ball. The Skins were in an effective tie for the best ground attack with a "success rate" of 48%. In other words, Washington's running game improved the team's chances of scoring on nearly half of its carries. The Seahawks were 7th at 45%. League average running success rate: 41%.

Both teams were  successful defending the run, which makes Sunday's matchup all the more interesting. Washington's D was 4th in run defense success rate (54%); Seattle was number one, but was a single percentage point ahead of the Skins.

Where the teams diverge is in defending the pass. Seattle allowed opponents just 5.4 yards per passing attempt -- 4th best in the NFL. Washington allowed 6.8 yards per attempt, which ranked just 24th. 

While the Seahawks are a slightly stronger team because they're better defending the pass, home field advantage for Washington pushes the game back into coin flip territory.

My game outcome predictions have been off all season, and I don't have a good feel for this game. The biggest question I have is the health of Robert Griffin III's injured knee. He'll need to play better than he did against Dallas for Washington to have a chance.

In the end, I'm picking with my heart:


Washington Redskins -- 24

Seattle Seahawks -- 23