CenturyLink Field has been the home of some wild finishes in its 15 years of existence. Last Sunday, was the latest chapter as the Seattle Seahawks (5-2) rallied to defeat the Houston Texans 41-38 in a good, old-fashioned Wild West shootout. Russell Wilson bounced back from a late interception to execute a game-winning, three-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Now, what will Wilson and company do for an encore this Sunday afternoon when they take on the Washington Redskins (3-4)?
For the Seahawks, it was their ability to create big plays with Wilson in the passing game as he completed 26 of 41 attempts for 452 yards and four touchdowns. This epic performance by Wilson and the receiving corps overshadowed a running game that could not get anything going against Houston’s defense. Jadeveon Clowney in particular was living in the Seattle backfield all day long as the offensive line had zero chance of slowing him down. Defensively, the game played out as expected as Deshaun Watson threw for more than 400 yards and the Legion of Boom created a couple of key turnovers to hold off the Texans.
Washington comes into this game in a must-win situation with Philadelphia pulling away in the NFC East race. The Redskins lost 33-19 last week at home to the Cowboys in a game that was played in a driving rain storm. Kirk Cousins completed 26 of 39 passes for 263 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The inability to run the ball was a problem for the Redskins as well, as they mustered just 49 yards on 15 carries. Turnovers were another problem, finishing minus-two against Dallas. Ball security is going to be important moving forward for Washington with little margin for error.
Washington at Seattle
Kickoff: Sunday, Nov. 5 at 4:05 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FOX
Spread: Seattle -7
Three Things to Watch
1. Seahawks’ offensive line with Duane Brown
After another rough week of running the football, Seahawks general manager John Schneider acquired left tackle Duane Brown in a trade with Houston. A three-time Pro Bowler, Brown will immediately upgrade an offensive line that has been an issue the last few seasons. Seattle took the Walmart style approach when it came to the offensive line for as long as the team could afford. In the end, they had no choice but to pay a Tesla Model X type price in draft pick compensation to get Brown as the road to the Super Bowl coming out of the NFC is wide open. The running game should benefit from Brown’s addition with Eddie Lacy set to get the first opportunity as the primary ball carrier. If Lacy struggles look for Thomas Rawls and J.D. McKissic to get their shot at staking their claim to the No. 1 role.
2. Kirk Cousins and the Redskins’ passing game
Cousins, will make his first appearance in front of the 12s which will be interesting to see how patient he will be with the football when he drops back to pass. Jamison Crowder and Chris Thompson figure to be busy on Sunday given Washington’s issues running the football. Crowder should have opportunities for chunk plays against the Seahawks’ secondary, which got exposed numerous times last week against Houston, and Thompson will get his chances catching the ball out of the backfield. The screen pass can be a very powerful weapon against a fierce pass rush and expect Seattle to push the envelope and bring the heat all afternoon long. If the Seahawks can’t make tackles in open space, it increases the Redskins’ chances of staying in this game and stealing a win on the road.
3. Life without Earl Thomas
Thomas is arguably the most valuable player on the Seahawks roster, let alone the defense. Thus, if Thomas is out with a hamstring injury this week (did not practice Wednesday or Thursday) the pressure will be cranked up on the rest of the secondary to make up for his absence. Bradley McDougald is expected to take Thomas’ place in the lineup if he is unavailable. McDougald, has been a special teams ace so far in 2017 as he leads the team with seven special teams tackles on the season. In addition, McDougald stepped up in a big way covering Giants tight end Evan Engram two weeks ago in Seattle’s 24-7 win. Another thing that will ease the transition for McDougald will be a healthy Kam Chancellor, who should be able to pick up the slack should Thomas not be able to play.
On paper, this game looks like it should be a convincing win for the Seahawks. However, Seattle has only gone 3-4 against the Vegas point spread this season so all bets are off as far as how this game unfolds. The running game will be the difference-maker as the Seahawks have not imposed their will on opponents on the ground this season. If Eddie Lacy or one of the other running backs can provide a spark behind a new-look offensive line, Seattle should win going away. For Washington, the Redskins need to stay patient on offense and not turn the ball over in order to keep the game close. Expect that to be the case in the first half before the Seahawks pull away in the third and fourth quarters for a two-score victory and extend their winning streak to five in a row.
Prediction: Seahawks 31, Redskins 20
— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and writes for College Sports Madness, covering college football, basketball, softball and baseball. Follow Scott on Twitter @ScottWhittum.