USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - LEADING OFF - Scott John­son

An­nounc­ers: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver

About the Red­skins: Play­ing in what might the tough­est di­vi­sion in foot­ball has hurt a team that has played rel­a­tively well most of the sea­son but is quickly slip­ping out of con­tention in the NFC East. A de­fense that held the Oak­land Raiders to 10 points a few weeks ago has given up more than 30 points to Philadel­phia and Dal­las in back-to-back weeks, and the Sea­hawks are com­ing off their most im­pres­sive of­fen­sive per­for­mance of the sea­son. QB Kirk Cousins might have to be at his best, and the run­ning game needs to find a spark as well. The team’s lead­ing rusher last week, RB Rob Kel­ley, gained 19 yards. Washington’s run de­fense had its share of is­sues last week as well, but the Seat­tle of­fen­sive line won’t pose the same chal­lenge that the Cow­boys’ line does. About the Sea­hawks: Hav­ing sur­vived another near miss last week, the Sea­hawks are per­fect at home this year but haven’t ex­actly been dom­i­nant there. Seat­tle’s of­fense got go­ing in the last-sec­ond win over the Hous­ton Tex­ans, but the game left a lot of ques­tions about its de­fense. While QB Rus­sell Wil­son con­tin­ues to make plays when needed, he’s go­ing to need some­thing out of the run game and a more typ­i­cal per­for­mance from the de­fense if the Sea­hawks are to sur­vive again. Seat­tle’s de­fense rarely has back-to-back duds, es­pe­cially when S Earl Thomas is healthy, so Washington could see an even more in­spired unit but no doubt will test rookie CB Shaquill

Grif­fin, who looks vul­ner­a­ble. The Sea­hawks have been in­con­sis­tent but still have the sec­ond-best record in the NFC. The Sea­hawks also had ac­quired Pro Bowl OT Duane Brown from the Hous­ton Tex­ans, ESPN's Adam Schefter re­ported at press time. Matchup to watch: Red­skins CB Josh Nor­man vs. Sea­hawks WR Doug Bald­win. While Seat­tle WR Paul Richard­son has started to make plays in the pass­ing game (six catches for 105 yards against Hous­ton), the Sea­hawks typ­i­cally don’t get a lot of pro­duc­tion out­side of Bald­win. If Nor­man, Wash­ing-

ton’s best cover man, can keep Bald­win in check, it sig­nif­i­cantly could im­pact Wil­son’s abil­ity to gen­er­ate much of­fense. Player to watch: Red­skins TE Jor­dan Reed. Washington is try­ing to feed him the ball as much as pos­si­ble, and this would be a good week for Reed to do more dam­age — ex­cept that he left the Dal­las game be­cause of a ham­string in­jury and is ques­tion­able. Num­ber crunch­ing: 4. Touch­down re­cep­tions by Sea­hawks TE Jimmy Gra­ham over the last three games, in­clud­ing three that came in­side the 5-yard line. Wil­son was hav­ing trou­ble find­ing Gra­ham as a red-zone tar­get for most of his Sea­hawks ca­reer be­fore this. KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Run … and don’t get run on: Washington is 10-2 un­der coach Jay Gru­den when rush­ing for 115 yards or more in a game. De­fen­sively, Washington is 3-1 this sea­son when hold­ing op­po­nents to fewer than 100 yards and 0-3 when teams run for triple dig­its.

2. Push the tempo: Washington, which has played pretty well on the road this sea­son de­spite its 1-2 record, might have suc­cess run­ning an up-tempo of­fense at CenturyLink Field — it worked for the Tex­ans last week.

3. Keep Wil­son healthy: Whether it’s be­cause of a leaky of­fen­sive line or a re­ceiv­ing corps that strug­gles, the Sea­hawks just can’t seem to give Wil­son many easy downs.

4. Start faster: Seat­tle has had suc­cess com­ing back this sea­son. Pete Car­roll’s team has been mad­den­ingly in­con­sis­tent but knows how to fin­ish.

STEVEN BISIG, USA TO­DAY SPORTS Sea­hawks’ Doug Bald­win

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