Can the Washington Commanders continue their success in Seattle? On Sunday, Washington makes its first trip to the Emerald City since 2017 to face the NFC West-leading Seahawks. Washington is 7-3 all-time in Seattle and 7-1 in the regular season.
The Commanders are coming off a 20-17 win over the New England Patriots, where quarterback Sam Howell completed 29 of 45 passes for 325 yards. It was Howell’s second consecutive game of passing for 300 yards or more and fifth game of passing for 290 yards or more.
Can Washington keep its playoff hopes alive? The Commanders are currently one game out of the seventh and final NFC wild-card spot.
Here are four things that Washington needs to pull off the upset in Week 10.
Start fast on both sides of the ball
It feels like we say this every week, but it holds true each time. The Commanders must start fast, or you can mark it down as a loss. This team has gotten behind by multiple scores in losses to the Bills, Bears and Giants and could not recover. In doing so, it was a total team effort. The offense failed to get going until too late and the defense gave up far too many big plays.
If the Commanders can start fast as they did against the Eagles (even though they lost twice), they can take the crowd out of the game. If Washington starts fast, they can win this game.
Howell must avoid the negative plays
Howell makes one or two of those plays each week that make you scratch your head. It’s part of being a young quarterback. For the Commanders to pull off the upset, Howell must keep those plays to a minimum or eliminate them. Washington doesn’t want to get behind due to turnovers in a place like Lumen Field.
If the second-year passer plays as he did the past two weeks, minus the turnovers, Washington is a good bet to pull off the upset or at least cover the spread.
Commanders need Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne to step up
Washington’s talented interior duo has been far too quiet this season. The Commanders need Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne to dominate games. That’s not to say they’ve been ineffective, but the Commanders need them to consistently win by collapsing the pocket and making life easier on the edge rushers. Payne and Allen are far off their pace from one year ago. The entire defense works better when Allen and Payne are disrupting things up front. But, the linebackers must do their job, too. On New England’s long TD run last week, the D-Line did its job, but the linebackers did not.
Take away the big play
Whatever strategy that Jack Del Rio needs to limit the big plays, that should be the goal. Make Seattle drive the length of the field. The Seahawks have multiple home-run hitters on offense. In each of Washington’s losses, and this goes back a couple of years, the Commanders have allowed multiple big plays and struggled on third downs.