Five keys for Seahawks vs. Redskins

Posted by Vic Carucci on January 4, 2013 – 2:10 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

Here are five keys for Sunday’s wild-card playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins:

>>The Seahawks need to get off to a fast start to eliminate the notion that they aren’t as good a team on the road as they are at home. They’ll have to establish a physical presence right away by finding success on the ground, which shouldn’t be a problem with the hard running of Marshawn Lynch, and with a defense that has a well-deserved reputation for delivering hard hits.

>>The Redskins must continue to run the ball effectively, because that is what drives their offense. Rookie running back Alfred Morris ran for 200 yards against the Cowboys last week, taking advantage of the cutback lanes consistently available in the Redskins’ zone-blocking scheme. He also gets significant help on longer gains from the solid blocking of Washington’s receivers. After some struggles against the run earlier in the season, the Seahawks have tightened up in that area.

>>Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has to have yet another impressive performance on the road, which has been a trend through the second half of the season. As usual, Wilson will look to move outside of the pocket, because that is from where he tends to make his biggest plays. He will challenge the Redskins’ defense with his strong passing arm and usually look for Sydney Rice when he takes deep shots.

>>Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III doesn’t have quite the same mobility he displayed before suffering a knee injury, but he still needs to make big things happen from the “pistol” formation in the team’s read-option offense. Griffin will face one of his strongest challenges to date, because the Seahawks’ defense has allowed the fewest points of any team in the league and hasn’t given up more than 17 since Week 12. He will frequently look to capitalize on the persistence/success of Washington’s running game with play-fakes.

>>Seattle’s offensive line has to take charge against a less-than-overwhelming Redskins defensive front. The Seahawks get exceptional run-blocking from Max Unger, who has done a great deal to help Lynch average an impressive five yards per rush this season and find his way across the goal line from plays near the end zone. They also do a decent job in pass protection, although Wilson’s mobility is a clear asset in that department.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/browns_daily, Twitter.com/viccarucci, e-mail: Daily@ClevelandBrowns.com, or by calling 855-363-2459.


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Five keys for Colts vs. Ravens

Posted by Vic Carucci on January 4, 2013 – 2:00 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

Here are five keys for Sunday’s wild-card playoff game between the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens:

>>The Ravens must exploit the Colts’ shaky run defense with a heavy dose of Ray Rice. Having touched the ball only three times against the Bengals last week, Rice should be well rested and ready for a heavy work load. He is the engine that drives the Ravens’ offense, and should see plenty of action as a runner and receiver.

>>Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, whose tendency to force throws has resulted in too many interceptions, needs to be particularly careful with the ball with safety Ed Reed ready to pounce on any errant pass. The Colts love to throw the ball deep, and, with aggressive offensive coordinator Bruce Arians expected to look to exploit the Ravens’ vulnerable secondary, they’ll no doubt take their shots.

>>Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has to make his share of plays with his strong passing arm. As much as the Ravens will want to run the ball early and often, they’ll also ask Flacco to contribute significantly through the air – especially if the Colts get their passing game in gear. The Ravens have a pair of receivers with separate skill sets capable of doing a whole lot of damage to a secondary: powerful Anquan Boldin, who excels at racking up yards after the catch, and speedy Torrey Smith, a constant big-play threat.

>>The Colts’ dangerous pass-rushing duo of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis has to make life miserable for Flacco. Freeney and Mathis should present a tremendous challenge for a Ravens offensive line that sometimes must maintain its blocks longer than it would prefer because of Flacco’s tendency to hold the ball too long.

>>The Ravens’ pass rush must take advantage of the Colts’ leaky pass protection. Baltimore’s defense is more than capable of generating pressure by a front led by Paul Kruger. The Ravens also do a good job of controlling the edges with Terrell Suggs and Courtney Upshaw. Although Haloti Ngata has been slowed by injuries, he can still be a disruptive force, especially when the Ravens move him around in search of favorable matchups.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/browns_daily, Twitter.com/viccarucci, e-mail: Daily@ClevelandBrowns.com, or by calling 855-363-2459.


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