When Washington and Seattle face each other on Monday night, it will be a study of two teams that are heading in opposite directions. The Seahawks are 2-1 and fresh off a bye after they won an exhilarating Super Bowl rematch with the Broncos. Washington, meanwhile, is 1-3, and now facing the defending Super Bowl champions a week after being humbled at the hands of the Giants.
It's difficult to overstate how bad Washington was last week. The team is relying on Kirk Cousins to keep them afloat while Robert Griffin III is out with an Achilles injury, and he went 19-for-33 for 257 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions last week. Even the fans who wanted to see Cousins before Griffin got hurt had to be discouraged. Regardless, Cousins needs a bounce back performance in a serious way, and he'll have to do it against one of the toughest opponents in the league in Seattle.
The Seahawks' Super Bowl winning formula does not appear to have changed over the offseason. They control the ball with Marshawn Lynch on offense and smash opponents to pieces with their savage brand of defense. Quarterback Russell Wilson has been efficient throwing the ball, completing 69 percent of his passes with just one interception. They have to go all the way across country to face Washington, but there's no doubt about why they are favored to come home with a win.
Cousins tossed an unsightly four interceptions last week in a 45-14 loss to the Giants. He will need to take considerably better care of the ball against the Seahawks, who boast one of the NFL's best and most opportunistic pass defenses. Speaking of which, safety Kam Chancellor should be good to go after playing through an ankle issue.
The Seahawks have won eight straight on Monday night. Teams traveling from the West Coast out east generally have a tough time coming home with wins, but considering it's a night game, the time change should be a minimal factor.
Despite the team's struggles, Washington running back Alfred Morris is off to a fast start. Morris is currently fifth in the NFL with 316 rushing yards, averaging a healthy 4.5 yards per carry. His team is going to need every little bit of production from him to keep the Seattle defense honest.
Who to watch
Kirk Cousins - The third-year quarterback from Michigan State is coming off what is easily his worst game as a professional against the Giants. He needs to minimize turnovers against the Seahawks, as they will not hesitate to kill a team if given the chance. Cousins has a good running back to rely on in, he just needs to be cleaner with his decision making.
Percy Harvin - With DeAngelo Hall out with an Achilles injury and Tracy Porter questionable with a hamstring issue, the Washington secondary is depleted. Harvin and the rest of the Seahawks receiving corps should have the upper hand and could put up some big numbers.
Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril - The Seahawks defensive ends will be going against an injury-hobbled Trent Williams and Tyler Polumbus. Seattle's pass rush has only five sacks through three games this year, but that number could jump noticeably on Monday night.
How to watch
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
When: 8:30 p.m. ET
Announcers: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, and Lisa Salters
FedEx Field has not quite been around for 20 years yet, and team owner Dan Snyder is already making noise about his team needing a new home. FedEx Field has never received rave reviews about accessibility or gameday experience, but perhaps the bigger issue is that Washington has never had a particularly daunting home field advantage. It's probably safe to assume the Seahawks will not be intimidated by the environment on Monday night.
Seattle opened as a seven-point favorite, according to OddsShark. That line has since shifted up slightly, ranging anywhere from -7 to -8.5. The over/under is 45.5.
The obvious choice here is the Seahawks, and there's aren't a lot of reasons to think twice. Washington has struggled outside of a win over Jacksonville, and Seattle will be well rested coming off an early bye week. Washington is giving up just over 27 points per game, which is good for 26th in the league. Conversely, the Seahawks are putting up the fifth most points in the league.
Washington will need to score points to keep up with Seattle, and considering Cousins' form so far this season, it's tough to see them hanging with the Seahawks for 60 minutes.
For more on the Seahawks, head over to Field Gulls.
For more on Washington, check out Hogs Haven.