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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