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Team Analysis

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 Seattle Seahawks Team Analysis:

INSIDE SLANT
The Seattle Seahawks got just about the longest in-season break a team can in the NFL, with a bye followed by a game on a Monday night.

But it's finally time for Seattle to get back to work following its bye week, which followed a win over the Denver Broncos on Sept. 21.

Now, Seattle begins the real grind of its season with a game Monday night at the Washington Redskins, the start of three road games in the month of October, two on Eastern time and another on Central time.

The Seahawks might have preferred to have a later bye, with there usually being more bumps and bruises to heal in the second half of the season.

But coach Pete Carroll said the Seahawks will take the benefits they can from the bye week.

"There's nothing we can do about when it comes, but now that it's here and we got back and we're pretty healthy coming back off it and guys feel great and they're ready to go to work," Carroll said.

Seattle is 2-2 following byes under Carroll.

But one of the wins came a year ago in a scenario that resembles this year's. Last season, Seattle also had a bye and then a Monday night game, that coming at home against New Orleans. The Seahawks responded with one of their best efforts of the season, a 34-7 win over the Saints.

But going on the road is always trickier. Seattle went a franchise-best 6-2 on the road last season en route to its first Super Bowl title. But the Seahawks are 0-1 this season after a 30-21 loss at San Diego in Week 2.

Seattle, though, can point to a number of mitigating factors for that defeat, including that the Chargers appear to be an upper echelon team, and some injuries for the Seahawks -- notably, an ankle injury that slowed safety Kam Chancellor.

Washington appears a softer task, on paper. The Redskins are 1-3 and coming off a 45-14 defeat last Thursday at home against the New York Giants. Washington's only win came against woeful Jacksonville at home.

Still, the NFL is the NFL and the Seahawks will be suitably wary, especially of a Washington offense that when not turning the ball over (the Redskins are last in the NFL with a turnover margin of minus-five) has been able to move fairly well.

Alfred Morris remains a top-flight running back and the Redskins are fourth in the NFL in yards per game at 415.3, and 12th in rushing at 123.0.

And the Redskins are allowing just 324.3 yards per game, only three more per game than the Seahawks, to rank eighth in the NFL.

Turnovers and special teams, though, have largely been Washington's undoing as well as third downs -- Washington is 18-49 converting third downs to rank 26th.

So Seattle's goal in Washington will be one it has largely accomplished the past few years -- to be the better overall team.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has thrown just one interception this season -- Washington's Kirk Cousins threw four against the Giants alone. A repeat of a stat like that and the Seahawks should be able to escape Washington with a win.

Seattle then returns home for a short week home game against Dallas followed by trips to St. Louis and Carolina.



SERIES HISTORY: 16th regular-season meeting. Redskins lead series, 11-4 having won all six regular season meetings since 1998. Seattle last won in Washington in 1995, 27-20. However, Seattle won the last game of any kind against Washington, a 24-14 win in a wildcard playoff game.

NOTES, QUOTES
--Seattle has won eight in a row on Monday nights, having last lost at home in 2004 to Dallas, 43-39, a game in which the Seahawks' leading receiver was Jerry Rice, who caught eight passes for 145 yards.

--Seattle, in fact, has long been a Monday night darling, holding a 20-8 record on Monday night, a winning percentage of 71.4 that is the best in the NFL. Next is the 49ers, at 45-25 (64.3 percent). Seattle, though, has played just eight road Monday night games, going 5-3, including a 14-9 win at St. Louis last year decided on the final play of the game.



BY THE NUMBERS: 10-1 -- Seattle's record in prime time games since Pete Carroll became coach in 2010. That includes 4-0 on Monday night, 2-0 last season.



QUOTE TO NOTE:
"I recognized when he got here from the off-season that he was in fantastic shape. He looked just quicker than ever to me and hasn't really had a day when he wasn't really on it. So his consistency has been there, which is really a tribute to his workouts that he did and carried out." -- Carroll on the play of running back Marshawn Lynch, who has 234 yards in three games while averaging 4.5 per carry.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
PLAYER NOTES

--DE Bruce Irvin should be back for the Washington game after sitting out against Denver with a rib injury suffered during practice the week before the contest against the Broncos. Irvin was limited the first game of the year after coming off off-season hip surgery, but he is recovered from that now.

--TE Luke Willson will take over as the starter for the injured Zach Miller, who is out for a few weeks after having ankle surgery over the bye week. Willson, a second-year player from Rice, started two games last year in Miller's absence, as well.

--T Garry Gilliam, an undrafted rookie from Penn State, could be an option as an emergency tight end with Miller out. Gilliam played tight end at Penn State through his junior season, catching eight passes.

--SS Kam Chancellor told reporters this week that some changes in his shoes -- going from low to mid-tops, specifically -- have made a big difference in how his ankles feel and he thinks he won't have any problems with it the rest of the season. Chancellor battled sore ankles in the loss against San Diego, after which he thought about having surgery before the change in shoes made his ankles feel better.



GAME PLAN:
Seattle got the running game going again in its 26-20 overtime win over Denver, 26-20, with 129 yards on 37 carries. What Seattle would like to do now is get the big-play passing game working right along with it.

Seattle had only one pass of longer than 20 yards to a receiver against Denver, which is unlike the Seahawks -- last year, Russell Wilson was sixth in the NFL in yards per pass attempt at 8.5. This season he is at 7.5.

Many of those yards a year ago came off play-action with the defense focusing its sights on Lynch. With Lynch off to a nice start to the season at 4.5 yards per carry, there's no reason that can't still work.

Seattle also needs to increase its touches for Percy Harvin, who has 15 receptions and six carries in three games. Seattle has been getting a lot of mileage out of using Harvin in the slot and then putting him in motion and sometimes handing the ball on sweeps, or faking it to him. But Harvin has gotten 84 of his 192 total yards on two plays. Seattle could use some more big plays from him, as well.

Defensively, Seattle needs to find a way to continue the turnover habits of Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins threw four interceptions and lost a fumble against the Giants. Seattle has just two interceptions this season and has recovered just one fumble. Last year, Seattle forced 39 turnovers for the season to lead the NFL. So something has to give in that matchup.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

--Seahawks RT Justin Britt vs. Redskins OLB Ryan Kerrigan. Kerrigan, who typically lines up on the left side of the defense, has five sacks -- as many as Seattle has as a team. That alone makes him a tough matchup for Britt, a rookie second-round pick from Missouri. But now Britt will also play without his security blanket, veteran tight end Zach Miller, who often lined up on the right side through the first three games to help Britt in pass blocking. Miller is out for a few weeks after having arthroscopic ankle surgery.

--Seahawks MLB Bobby Wagner vs. Redskins RB Alfred Morris: Wagner leads the NFL with 11.6 tackles per game, 35 total in three games, playing a key role in a Seattle run defense allowing just 2.8 yards per carry. Morris, though, may be the best running back Seattle has faced so far with 316 yards and averaging 4.5 per carry. Seattle had issues with missed tackles in the first two games but cleaned those up against Denver, and needs to replicate that against Washington.

--Seahawks CB Richard Sherman vs. Redskins LT Trent Williams: Okay, so they won't really be facing off often on the field. But it's the memory of an altercation between the two after the game that stands as one of the lasting images of the last time Seattle played at Washington. Seattle rallied to beat Washington, 24-14, in a wild-card game in 2013 and afterward, Williams shoved Sherman, drawing a fine from the NFL. If nothing else, it might be the kind of thing to fire up Washington a little bit as it attempts to move past its blowout loss to the Giants last week.

 

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