WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Redskins sure look like a great team, if you squint your eyes enough.
After all, they’re No. 4 in the NFL in total offense and No. 8 in total defense. No other NFL team is in the top 10 in both.
And those Seattle Seahawks? Uh, not much there on defense, right? They’ve only intercepted two passes and have just five sacks all season.
If there’s ever a case to look beyond the numbers — and crunch the intangibles instead — the Seahawks-Redskins game on Monday night is a good place to start.
Seattle (2-1) has confidence and momentum after its pre-bye win over the Denver Broncos in a Super Bowl rematch.
Washington (1-3) is coming off a 31-point prime-time loss at home in which coach and players cited problems with attitude and preparation.
So, yeah, let’s forget the math class for now.
“You can be a top 10 defense and a top 10 offense,” Redskins nose tackle Chris Baker said, “but if you’re losing, nobody cares.”
Try this instead: The Seahawks opened the season facing Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning.
Taking two of three from that crowd is pretty impressive. Richard Sherman and the rest of the reigning Super Bowl champs still know what they’re doing.
The Redskins’ yardage numbers are skewed by a lopsided victory over the winless Jacksonville Jaguars.
More telling intelligence on the state of the team came after the 45-14 Thursday night drubbing against the New York Giants, when first-year coach Jay Gruden said he felt that some of his players had taken the opponent for granted.
“We have some guys that are kind of finding their way,” Gruden said this week. “Overall, as a group, they’ve just got to learn how to play together, and that takes a little bit more time than I thought and I hoped.”
Here’s some of what’s on tap as the heavily favored Seahawks make the long trek east:
DIVERGENT PATHS: This is the teams’ first meeting since the playoffs in the 2012 season. At the time, it appeared it might be the first of many postseason head-to-heads between then-rookie quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III.
Wilson lived up to his end of the deal by leading the Seahawks to an NFL title, but the Redskins sank to 3-13 last season and Griffin is sidelined yet again with another major injury.
“Obviously,” Washington tight end Logan Paulsen said, “we’d love it if the situations were reversed.” Read more.
YOU LOOK FAMILIAR: Griffin’s replacement is Kirk Cousins, who had a pair of memorable faceoffs against Wilson in their final year of college. The first ended when Cousins’ Michigan State team beat Wilson’s Wisconsin squad with a 44-yard pass as time expired.
“Kirk ended up breaking all our hearts,” Wilson said. “We thought we could go to the national championship, and they got a Hail Mary.”
Wilson and the Badgers got their revenge in the Big Ten championship game, earning a trip to the Rose Bowl.
RATTLE COUSINS: The Seahawks’ pass rush is still a work in progress as they figure out the best rotation for a deep unit. Seattle sacked Manning only once, but recorded eight quarterback hits against an offense designed to get the ball out quickly. Michael Bennett and O’Brien Schofield were notably disruptive trying to throw off the timing of the Broncos offense.
Cousins could be a ripe target. He committed five turnovers against the Giants, and the Redskins’ offensive line is banged up.
TE TROUBLE: The Seahawks are about to find out just how important tight end Zach Miller is to their offense. Unless, of course, Luke Willson proves to be ready.
Miller will miss the next few weeks after ankle surgery, leaving Willson to take on the starting role. Willson is known more as a pass catcher, but has improved his blocking since being drafted last year in the fifth round out of Rice. Miller is regarded as one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL.
“I got to step up,” Willson said, “and get the job done.”
“NIGHT” AND DAY: One of the more curious set of stats concerns the teams’ performances in primetime.
The Seahawks have the league’s best Monday night record (20-8), including eight wins in a row with three shutouts. They are 10-1 in primetime under coach Pete Carroll.
The Redskins, meanwhile, have lost six straight under the lights and are 4-14 on Monday nights since 2000.
Asked for an explanation for Seattle’s nighttime success, Wilson said: “I think, ultimately, just being poised, realizing that the game is still the game as it always is. There maybe a few more cameras there and a few more pictures here and there, but it’s still 100 yards.”
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