Coming off the bye week after defeating the (3-1) Denver Broncos in an overtime thriller, the (2-1) Seattle Seahawks travel to FedEx Field in Landover, MD, for a Monday night showdown against the (1-3) Washington Redskins (8:30pm EST on ESPN).
The Seahawks are favorite on the spread at -7.5pts and will look to get their first road win of the season against a Washington team that is banged up and that has been very inconsistent this year.
Seattle’s keys to the game:
Bring the home mentality to the road – Playing on the road can be tough. Teams are forced to contend with rival fans, an unfriendly atmosphere and in some cases, varying weather conditions they aren’t used to. It is only normal to see a team have more success at home than on the road.
The Seahawks are the perfect example. When it comes to the Seahawks and Quest Field, the home of the 12th Man, the place where up until last week recorded the loudest decibel ever, it is a match made in heaven. Since 2012, the first year of the Russell Wilson (pictured) era, the Seahawks have lost just once at home in 20 games, including the playoffs. By far, this is the best home mark of any NFL team during that span.
Conversely, Seattle has just an 11-9 record in their last 20 road games, including a loss to the (3-1) San Diego Chargers this year in the team’s only road game so far of the season. Despite the immense success associated with the Seahawks, it does have to be admitted that this team is just an average road team.
Now, that isn’t to say that the Seahawks can’t or don’t win on the road. The 2014 Super Bowl is a perfect example of that. But Seattle has definitely been less dominant and far from untouchable away from the friendly confines of Quest.
Russell Wilson needs to keep doing what he’s been doing – Make no mistake, Russell Wilson is a good quarterback. Some might even say he is a top five quarterback. He’s not a game manager by any means even if he isn’t as relied on as heavily as other QBs in his position. But that doesn’t make him a bad QB, not by a long shot.
Wilson is having a great season and is on pace to set new career bests for himself. He has been solid since entering the league in 2012 and consistent as well. In fact perhaps the best part about Wilson’s game is that he can be counted on almost in any situation to put his team in position to win.
Against the Redskins, Wilson really doesn’t have to be special. He’ll have his opportunities against a defense that is ranked middle of the pack when it comes to opposing QB passing yards. All he needs to do is continue what he’s been doing because since 2012 for Seattle, this has been more than enough.
Washington’s keys to the game:
Return to the running game – There have been mixed emotions in Washington and around the league when it comes to the quarterback change that occurred a few weeks ago. Some think current QB Kurt Cousins is the better fit for the offense the Redskins want to run. Others think Robert Griffin’s injury was the nail in the coffin for this season’s team.
While it really is too early to say who is right in this debate, what can be said is that without Griffin, Washington’s running game has taken a step back.
Cousins can be a mobile quarterback and has shown his ability to scramble when needed but his threat to run is nowhere near as high as Griffin. When Griffin was healthy, opposing teams couldn’t count out a designed QB run and they had to send a spy to make sure Griffin didn’t have field to dart through. He made plays and extended plays with his legs and that is something that Cousins is just not going to do.
But it is not just the QB position that has suffered. Without Griffin’s threat to break off a big play with a run, defenses have keyed in on stopping Alfred Morris and effectively limiting his running game as well.
Before Griffin’s injury, Morris had 80+ yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Since then however, he has yet to top 80 in a single game and each week that total has gotten lower. Perhaps most alarming is that the rushing attempts have been lower as well. He had just 12 attempts in the Redskins last game, which is the second lowest mark of his three-year career.
And the formula does seem to be simple. Since joining the league, the Redskins are 11-5 when Morris rushes over 20 times. It’s been the biggest key to their victories and without Griffin, it’s even more vital that Washington gets Morris back to running hard and running a lot. Especially against the Seattle secondary.
Take advantage of being healthy – With the exception of Griffin, the Redskins should enter this Monday matchup the healthiest they have been all year. They’ll likely get tight end Jordan Reed back which is huge as Cousins has turned to his tight ends more than other position this season. Niles Paul, who missed most of last week due to a concussion is also due to play and he has caught the most balls of any Redskin receiver this year.
Offensively, this team will have the full complement of its weapons. Whether or not they look to them against the tougher than tough Seattle secondary is another story.
Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins Betting Picks
As I mentioned, the Seahawks enter this game as 7.5 road favorites. That’s really not a high as it may seem. Seattle is the better team no doubt and after last week’s lashing, it is understandable that the Redskins have lost favor, even at home.
Well that may be true but I’m going to advise the unpopular pick here. Take the Redskins to beat the spread. Washington is going to lose if you feel safer with the straight up moneyline bet but if you want something at sensible odds then go for the spread. The Redskins have won each of the last eight meetings against Seattle and they are at home and they are mostly healthy unlike last week. Put all of this together and it should be enough for Washington to keep the game within a touchdown.