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Monday Night Football: Seattle Seahawks vs. Washington Football Team Prediction and Preview

Monday Night Football: Seattle Seahawks vs. Washington Football Team Prediction and Preview

Washington looks for a third straight win when it hosts the skidding Seahawks for MNF to wrap up Week 12

When the schedule for "Monday Night Football" was released prior to the season this Week 12 matchup looked like it would involve two front-runners for their respective divisions if everything went well. Unfortunately, the Seattle Seahawks (3-7) and Washington Football Team (4-6) have had challenging seasons to date, and this game won't have the same juice nationally. However, these are two proud franchises, so you can't discount the possibility of both teams having some entertaining moments this week and this game ends up surprising some folks.

Seattle had zero answers for Colt McCoy and the Arizona Cardinals in a discouraging 23-13 home loss last week. McCoy completed 35-of-44 passes for 328 yards and two touchdowns. If it weren’t for some struggles by kicker Matt Prater, this game would not have been as close as it was. The Seahawks' defense was left on the field for way too long as the Cardinals had the ball for more than 40 minutes. Russell Wilson was out of sync, completing 14-of-26 passes for 207 yards. Sustaining drives was a problem as the offense converted just two out of 10 third-down opportunities against a salty Arizona defense. These two issues have epitomized the 2021 season in a nutshell, as Seattle is allowing teams to average 35 minutes and 15 seconds per game in time of possession. Meanwhile, the offense is battling it out with Detroit and Jacksonville for the worst third-down conversion rate as the Seahawks rank 31st in the NFL at 32.41 percent.

Washington picked up a second straight win, this time going down to Carolina and beating the Panthers 27-21. The win marked a victorious return to Bank of America Stadium for head coach Ron Rivera who was 76-63-1 in his tenure as head coach of Carolina from 2011-19. Washington had a balanced offensive effort led by Taylor Heinicke, who completed 16-of-22 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns. Antonio Gibson led a strong rushing attack with 95 yards on 19 carries. Defensively, WFT limited Christian McCaffrey to just 59 yards on 10 carries and did a great job of getting off the field on third down. Washington held Carolina to 2-of-9 in that situation, and that must continue if this team wants to mount any sort of second-half playoff push.

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Monday Night Football: Seattle (3-7) at Washington (4-6)

Kickoff: Monday, Nov. 29 at 8:15 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN
Spread: Washington -1

Three Things to Watch

1. Seahawks' offense
This unit has been tough to watch since Russell Wilson has returned from his finger injury. The offense has scored just one touchdown over the past two games and hasn't appeared to pose much of a threat in either contest. Pete Carroll can talk all he wants about running the football. But, until this offense can consistently move the ball on the ground and stay patient with it, Carroll’s talk is worthless. The neck injury suffered by Chris Carson, which has ended his season, has proven costly without question. Alex Collins is just a guy and has shown he's not capable of carrying a team on his back. Rashaad Penny has been a bust as a first-round pick (No. 27 overall in 2018), and injuries have been a persistent issue for the backfield in recent seasons. The bottom line is the lack of a legit running game puts too much weight on Wilson, and he has shown that he is not up to the task over the past two weeks. Wilson can fix this by executing a couple of deep balls early to loosen up the Washington defense, which ranks 28th in the NFL against the pass (270.0 ypg). 

2. Can Washington maintain offensive balance?
Washington has a golden opportunity to have another great week of balance on offense. Antonio Gibson can set the tone running the football, which will set up the play-action passing game. Taylor Heinicke should have a productive day throwing the ball against a depleted secondary for the Seahawks. Cornerback Tre Brown appears lost for the season to a knee injury, which is disappointing as he was showing a lot of promise. Two additional keys for WFT's offense this week will be taking care of the football to avoid giving Wilson and the Seahawks great field position to score easy points. Another will be converting third downs as Washington went 11-of-19 two weeks ago in a 29-19 win over Tampa Bay, dominating the time of possession (39:08) battle in the process.

3. Seahawks' defense vs. Washington's offense
You can expect to see a steady mix of screen passes to the backs out of the backfield from Washington along with targets to leading wide receiver Terry McLaurin early and often. The question for Seattle is how the defense will respond this week after having issues with Colt McCoy, who looked like the second coming of John Elway on the roast last Sunday. Jamal Adams needs to step up and do his job in pass coverage as he has had too many problems this season in that area. The defensive line needs to try and generate pressure on Heinicke even if they don’t register sacks. Slowing down the run must happen as well as the Seahawks can't allow decent gains early to set up manageable throws for Heinicke on third down. Now, if this defense has mentally checked out then all bets are off, and this game could get out of hand right away.

Final Analysis

The Seahawks need to have something positive happen early in the first quarter to let them settle in and keep this game competitive for 60 minutes. Washington will get enough plays out of Heinicke, who should be able to take advantage of a Seattle defense that is 30th against the pass (279.6 ypg) and has recorded just four interceptions this season. This game will be competitive for a while as there is not appear to be much separation between these teams personnel-wise. In the end, Washington will wear down Seattle’s defense and pull away in the second half for a two-score victory. For the Seahawks, this game should be the final nail in the coffin for the 2021 season and could potentially force them to shut Wilson down, especially if he struggles again on Monday night.

Prediction: Washington 24, Seahawks 14