By Jim Moore
Five or six weeks ago, I thought the Seahawks looked like Super Bowl contenders – as in being good enough to make it to New Orleans.
Now I’m thinking they’re even better than that, believing they can win it all by beating either Denver or New England in the championship game.
They certainly look as good as the 2005 Seahawks team that lost to the Steelers in the Super Bowl.
And when you look at the NFC portion of the bracket, which team would you rather have, the Seahawks or anyone else? I could be talked into Green Bay, but I’d have a hard time buying into Atlanta, San Francisco or Washington and wouldn’t even listen to arguments for Minnesota though I admit to pulling for the Vikings.
Why? Because one of my kids loves Adrian Peterson and is wearing his jersey to school today and, more importantly, if the Vikings and Seahawks win their next two games, Pete Carroll’s team would host the NFC championship game at CenturyLink Field.
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III has not been as explosive since he sustained a knee injury last month. (AP)
Last I checked, the Seahawks were 12-1 to win the Super Bowl. Vegas still dismisses them, probably because they have to play three consecutive road games to earn the right to face the AFC champ.
The guys in Vegas know as well as you do that the Seahawks, as good as they are, don’t have the same team on the road that they have at home. I guess that goes for every team, but it holds especially true for the Seahawks, who are 8-0 at CenturyLink and 3-5 on the road, where they beat only one decent team in Chicago.
Still, that Chicago game proved to me that the Hawks can win anywhere against anyone in any situation, even the first round of the playoffs given their dramatic offensive improvement.
What I like most about the uptick in the offense is that it gives the defense more room for error. Yes, they’ve struggled more against the run than they did earlier this year, which could be a serious problem against Alfred Morris and the Redskins.
But when you have an offense that can score 27 to 30 points compared to 17 to 20 in September and October, the defense doesn’t have to be perfect. And it’s crazy to quibble with this defense anyway since it ranks first in the league in points allowed (15.3) and fourth in yardage allowed.
As I see it, the two biggest factors in Seattle’s favor are Washington’s pass defense and the iffy health of Robert Griffin III.
The Redskins are 30th in the league in pass defense, allowing 281.9 yards a game. I read a story in the Washington Post this morning that highlighted the Redskins’ improvement in this area during their seven-game winning streak.
For instance, they gave up 423 yards through the air to Dallas on Thanksgiving Day and only 196 to Tony Romo last Sunday night when they won the NFC East.
They also should benefit from the return of cornerback Cedric Griffin, coming back from a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s drug policy just like Brandon Browner.
But you could argue that Dallas would have won that game with reasonably good play from Romo, who threw three interceptions, all of which you would never expect from Russell Wilson.
I’m guessing that Wilson will outplay RG III for two reasons: Washington’s secondary is more vulnerable than Seattle’s, and Griffin is still bothered by a sprained knee.
I sincerely hope that RG III is fully recovered next week when the Redskins’ season is over. But this week? To be honest, I hope his knee gives him problems. He didn’t look as mobile against the Cowboys. He also didn’t throw the ball as well as he usually does, completing a season-low 50 percent of his passes.
I’m guessing that Mike Shanahan will have to streamline his playbook and take away some of those read-option plays that have made Griffin such a multi-faceted threat.
Why risk RG III’s knee by exposing him to Seattle’s hard-hitting defense? Even if Shanahan unleashes Griffin, that’s fine too – at 75 or 80 percent of what he is when he’s fully healthy, he can’t possibly be as damaging as he was before the injury.
If I’m the Seahawks, I’m more concerned about stopping Morris, who rushed for 1,613 yards this year.
If I’m the Redskins, I’ve got greater concerns: how can you stop Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, the two tight ends, and the suddenly flourishing Doug Baldwin?
After going 13-3 against the spread in Seahawks’ games during the regular season, let’s keep it going in the playoffs with another front-line winner.
Line: Seahawks by 3.
Prediction: Seahawks 27, Redskins 10.