Buckle up, ladies and gentlemen; Dallas lost on Thanksgiving, Washington is officially within arms reach of the NFC East Division along with the Philadelphia Eagles. With a win against the Seattle Seahawks this Monday Night, Washington puts themselves two games behind the Dallas Cowboys in the division, still having to play the Cowboys and Eagles twice on the year.
Washington must continue to take things one step at a time and one game at a time. The Seattle Seahawks are reeling right now, 3-7, losers of two straight, and 1-5 in their last six. Make no mistake, though, Russell Wilson is still elite and coming off of a severe middle finger injury, so it is a matter of time until he becomes comfortable again. He won’t let the Seahawks ship sink on his watch, so expect a great game this Monday. Here are some key matchups to watch as Washington and Seattle take the field for week 12.
J.D. McKissick vs. Seattle’s back-seven
The versatility of Washington’s offensive backfield has helped offensive coordinator Scott Turner and quarterback Taylor Heincke out tremendously. J.D. McKissic is second on the team in receptions (38) and receiving yards (371). Antonio Gibson also has 19 catches for 158 yards. Both running backs are capable of exploiting a Seattle defense whose linebackers and defensive backs have created opportunities for plenty of opportunities for opposing running backs.
This year, Seattle has allowed 70 catches for 726 yards to running backs this season, which leads the league. Over the past two weeks, Turner has shown himself to become much more adaptative to opposing teams’ weaknesses and find ways to exploit them even further. The Panthers have an excellent defense, but they also struggled in run defense, and Washington effectively ran zone and power schemes that resulted in nearly 200 yards on the ground.
McKissick’s matchup against Seattle is one where he should see a minimum of 10 total touches against the Seahawks.
Washington’s pass-rush vs. Russell Wilson
The Washington Football Team has not had the year it was projected to have in the sack category; with just 20 on the season, the team ranks 25th in the league. The Seattle Seahawks have allowed 33 sacks this season, which is third-most in the NFL. Edge rushers Chase Young and Montez Sweat won’t be playing in this game; however, the interior pass-rushers are all healthy and should help the young edge rushers who are replacing Young and Sweat. Wilson missed time due to a hand injury, so his legs are just fine. It will be critical for defensive tackles Jonathan Allen, DaRon Payne, and Matt Ioannidis to dominate up front and create discomfort for Russell Wilson in the pocket.
Since returning from injury, Wilson has had 34 completions on 66 attempts (51% completion), 368 yards, zero touchdowns, and two interceptions. Wilson has also been sacked seven times over these two games. With his struggles post-injury, Wilson would likely look to get the ball out of his hands quicker against Washington. In that case, it makes Washington’s job up front much more essential win early and often against an offensive line that has failed to keep Wilson and Geno Smith clean. (Or at the very least, keep their hands active in Wilson’s passing lanes.) If Washington is not getting home or making Wilson uncomfortable, this will be a long game for the defense, as Wilson thrives in chaos.
Kendall Fuller vs. Tyler Lockett
Kendall Fuller has played well since coming out of the bye week. He’s met receivers with great physicality, and his discipline and team communication have resulted in very few coverage breakdowns. Receivers D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are first and second on the Seahawks in targets and receptions and pose a solid threat against Washington’s secondary. Last year against this same trio (Wilson, Metcalf, and Locket), Washington held the two receivers to nine catches for 77 yards. However, last year, the 2020 Seahawks had a strong running game (181 yards vs. Washington), and there was no need to drop Wilson back a lot when the two teams met last year.
The Seahawks will most definitely attempt to establish the ground game again this year, and Washington has to force them to be one-dimensional. However, when that happens, it is essential to make sure that Lockett, their do-it-all receiver, is accounted for at all times. Lockett is on a hot streak, with two 100-yard receiving games in his last three outings; he is looking to dominate again. Therefore, I expect Wilson to look Lockett’s way most of the time that Fuller is matched with the receiver. Further, while Fuller will have his opportunities against both Metcalf and Lockett, Lockett’s chemistry with Wilson, savviness, and quickness create the more pressing challenge for Fuller this week.
Big game for Washington! Let us know what you all think your key matchups are for the Week 12 showdown against the Seahawks.