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Redskins-Seahawks NFC wild-card game preview

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim,Seattle Seahawks

Keys to victory

1 Misdirection » Seattle's speed, especially in the front seven, makes it an excellent defense. But that must be used against the Seahawks, and that fits into what Washington does well. The Redskins can't allow quick penetration; that would hurt their cutback run game. They need to get Seattle flowing hard one way to open those backside lanes. Even in the passing game, they need to fake one way and come back to the other side.

2 Stop Lynch » The Seahawks have a terrific young quarterback in Russell Wilson, and he's a huge reason they're in the playoffs. But running back Marshawn Lynch is the one who makes this offense work. Lynch, who rushed for 1,590 yards in the regular season, is a tough runner who breaks tackles and forces defensive backs into taking bad angles. Most teams have not committed to running vs. the Redskins, knowing they could pass. Seattle will test them heavily.

3 Contain Wilson » Yes, the Redskins generated a lot of pressure on Dallas' Tony Romo up the middle, but Wilson is a different player. If the Redskins try this tactic Sunday, they must account for Wilson getting outside, where he's most dangerous. Edge pressure will be crucial, and the Redskins like to bring that as well, trying to force the barely 5-foot-11 Wilson into the pocket. He has become more of a run threat lately, too, so backside discipline by the ends and linebackers is a must.

Key matchups

LT Trent Williams

He's still battling the thigh bruise and still susceptible when he pushed off his left leg inside.

vs.

DE Chris Clemons

The speedy ex-Redskins end has 11.5 sacks and will line up on both sides; he has a spin move.

LB Rob Jackson

He continues to make big plays, but his consistency will be tested vs. the run.

vs.

LT Russell Okung

The Seahawks love to run left because of Okung, a Pro Bowl starter.

ST Lorenzo Alexander

He and the coverage units will be tested, especially if Kai Forbath line-drives his kicks.

vs.

KR Leon Washington

He averages 29.0 on kick returns and could be the difference in the game.

State of the teams

Seattle Seahawks

Like the Redskins, Seattle is a hot team guided by a rookie quarterback. The Seahawks don't turn it over much; they run the ball well -- sound familiar? The Seahawks enter having won five straight, including a three-game stretch in which they outscored the opposition 150-30. But they're a different team on the road (3-5).

Washington Redskins

The Redskins enter the postseason with more excitement surrounding them than at any time in the past 20 years, not just for the present but also the future. This also is as well as they have played in a long, long time. They have shown they can win when their best offensive player, quarterback Robert Griffin III, is not healthy. They need their defense to play well.

Examiner predicts

If Robert Griffin III were completely himself, it would be easier to predict. But immobile Rex Grossman led a win in Seattle vs. this same defense. Griffin is healthy enough. Redskins 20, Seahawks 17.

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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