Rookie Guns In Wild Card Shootout

Image courtesy of Greule Jr/Getty Images
Russell Wilson led the Seahawks to an 11-5 record in 2012. Image courtesy of Greule Jr/Getty Images
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck might trump them both for Rookie of the Year, but two of the most exciting QBs to come in to the league in many years face off on Monday morning (AEDT) in one of the most mouth-watering Wild Card contests in memory. Russell Wilson and his Seattle Seahawks travel across the country to face the Washington Redskins , led by Robert Griffin III , despite finishing the season one game better off than their opponents with an 11-5 record.

Taken at number two in the draft, RG3 played a big part in helping the ‘Skins improve from a 5-11 season last year to claim the NFC East with a 10-6 record. They clinched the division with a 28-18 win over arch rival Dallas, stretching their unbeaten run to seven games in the process since their bye in Week 10. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Griffin of late, though, with a knee sprain heavily restricting his movement.

He went 171 spots later in the draft than Griffin, but rookie running back Alfred Morris out of tiny Florida Atlantic University has been every important in the Redskins’ run. He finished second in the NFL with 1,631 yards, and with RG3 still struggling against the Cowboys, Morris’s cutback runs fetched him 200 yards on the ground with three touchdowns, both of which were career highs. His running opens the game up for Griffin and his main aerial targets Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan .

Wilson entered the record books at the weekend when he tied Peyton Manning’s rookie record of 26 touchdown passes in a season. He also became the first rookie starting quarterback to go 8-0 in NFL history. For all his outstanding numbers, Marshawn Lynch remains the Seahawks’ go-to-guy, after finishing just behind Morris with 1,590 rushing yards during the regular season. Seattle averages 161 yards on the ground per game, while Washington allows an average of just 96, so whoever wins that battle could well win the game.

In stark contrast to their unblemished home record, the Seahawks struggled on the road. They lost five of their first six, and only managed to improve that record in the latter part of the season, beating the freefalling Bears 23-17 in overtime, before thrashing the pitiful Bills 50-17 in a match played in Toronto. Griffin threw just one interception at FedEx Field all season, so Seattle’s defence will need to work hard to create any turnovers.

Click here to bet on NFL Wildcard Playoffs