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17

NFL Preview - Seattle (2-1) at Washington (1-3)



By John McMullen, NFL Editor

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Cousins-to-Canton train was derailed against a good secondary in Week 4.

Now Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins will be facing a great defensive backfield when the reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks invade the Beltway for "Monday Night Football."

Two seasons ago the Seahawks and Redskins were both up-and-coming teams with tremendous rookie quarterbacks in Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson.

Since Seattle upset Washington in the wild-card round, however, the teams' fortunes have been trending in opposite directions.

RG3, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft, led the Redskins to the NFC East title in his freshman campaign, while Wilson, the 75th overall selection that same year, piloted the Seahawks to a wild card berth.

Washington built an early two-touchdown lead in the playoff encounter before Wilson and Co. responded with 24 consecutive points to advance. To make matters even worse for the 'Skins, Griffin tore both an ACL and LCL in the game and has never been the same physically.

Fast forward a year and Washington finished 3-13, firing Mike Shanahan in favor of current coach Jay Gruden and the Seahawks won the franchise's first Lombardi Trophy.

Cousins, Washington's interim starter while RG3 convalesces from his latest injury (a dislocated ankle), was brilliant in his first 2014 start, albeit in a loss at Philadelphia. Not so much the second time around as the New York Giants confused and rattled the third-year signal caller during a 45-14 drubbing of the Redskins back on Sept. 25.

After finishing 30-of-48 for a career-high 427 yards and three touchdowns against the Eagles, Cousins came back down to earth versus the Giants, connecting on just 19-of-33 with a touchdown and a career-high four interceptions -- all in the second half. He also lost a fumble.

"Sometimes you need to play through some of these ruts," Gruden said. "As a quarterback, he's a guy that's going to have to lead us the next few weeks. We need him to pull himself out of this and keep his head up."

Things really fell apart for Washington in the third quarter, where Cousins fired three of his picks.

Alfred Morris, meanwhile, carried the ball 12 times for 63 yards and a score for the Redskins, who have lost their last two games.

Seattle comes in even more well-rested than the Redskins, last playing on Sept. 21 when they won a Super Bowl XLVIII rematch by outlasting the Denver Broncos, 26-20, in overtime.

Marshawn Lynch ran for a touchdown in the extra frame as the Seahawks thwarted Denver's attempts at revenge from a 43-8 drubbing in the big game this past February. The contest marked just the sixth time that there has been a rematch in the regular season of the previous Super Bowl opponents.

Lynch finished with 88 yards on 26 carries, while adding three catches for 40 yards and a score for the Seahawks, who bounced back from a Week 2 loss at San Diego.

Wilson completed 24-for-34 passed for 258 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the win.

"It was a tremendous game," Wilson said. "It was a battle."

The Redskins lead their all-time, regular-season series with Seattle by an 11-4 margin but Seattle has been the better team on Monday nights, compiling a 20-8 mark overall, including eight wins in a row. Washington is underwater at 27-36 in the national showcase.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The Seahawks could come in rusty because coach Pete Carroll gave his team a full week off during the bye.

"We wanted to maximize our chance to get our guys as fresh as possible for this big push here through this season," Carroll said. "So we did (the) bye really successfully, we'll find out if the result was good when we go out and play on Monday night."

It should be as Wilson is facing a defense that isn't all that good to begin with and is very banged-up in the secondary.

For whatever reason people never mention Wilson when they talk about the best QBs in the game but maybe it's time to change that narrative. The third-year star has never lost on MNF, compiling a 3-0 mark with seven touchdowns, no interceptions and a 121.6 passer rating.

This season, Wilson's 108.9 rating ranked third in the NFL entering Week 5 and the Seahawks are 19-3 overall when the diminutive passer hits a rating of at least 100.

"You have to put him in there," Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman said when asked about Wilson being considered among the best quarterbacks in the NFL. "If you're basing that judgment off of winning, you have to put him in that discussion."

"I don't think anyone ever doubts Russell. He's just too good," tight end Zach Miller, who will miss this contest after undergoing ankle surgery during the bye week, added.

The Seahawks generally want to establish the run with Lynch and play off of that but with Washington already down two starters -- cornerback DeAngelo Hall (Achilles) and safety Duke Ihenacho (foot) -- in what was a pedestrian defensive backfield to begin with, Seattle may feel comfortable enough to take a few more shots than usual downfield.

The goal of Seattle's passing game with remain the same, though, and that is getting the dynamic Percy Harvin the ball in space.

The Redskins best hope is a strong pass rush and Ryan Kerrigan entered Week 5 tied for the NFL lead with five sacks. His complement, Brian Orakpo, has been dealing with a finger injury, however, and is having a down year.

Offensively, Washington is up and against it here and will need to rely on its running game and Morris to set the tone because Cousins tends to stare down his receivers, a peccadillo which could be disastrous against the ball-hawking Seahawks secondary which includes Sherman, perhaps the best cornerback in all of football, and fellow All-Pro Earl Thomas, undoubtedly he best coverage safety in the game.

Thomas' running mate on the back end, the hard-hitting Kam Chancellor should also be ready to go despite a nagging ankle problem.

"He's frustrated with some of the throws that he made (against the Giants) and maybe some of the decisions," Gruden said. "Moving forward, it's a great learning experience."

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Chalk up nine straight for the Seahawks on MNF.

Cousins has dropped five straight starts now and couldn't handle the Giants' secondary. Expecting him to play a clean game against Sherman and Co. is probably wishful thinking.

Sports Network predicted outcome: Seahawks 31, Redskins 17

10/03 11:54:11 ET