Dr. Z will answer select user questions each week in his NFL mailbag.
The interesting thing about this year's set of divisional playoffs is that all four games are rematches. Has this ever happened before? Probably, but I'm too tired to research it right now. Following is my take on last weekend's wild-card action, as a prologue to the Divisionals:
Washington at Seattle
WHAT I SAW: The Redskins beat Tampa Bay on an amazing set of miscues and turnovers that led to points, plus late game Buccaneer foul-ups and just plain courage. While people were moaning about the death of the Skins' offense, they failed to give enough credit to the heroic job their defense was doing. There were just too many good players on that side of the ball, guys who could not be handled.
Cornelius Griffin was an all-pro tackle last year, an honor he well deserved. He's been hurt this season, but he was back against the Bucs. They couldn't control him. I thought Marcus Washington was the best player on the field, an outside 'backer who is very close to all-pro level. LaVar Arrington lifted his game at just the right time. So did Joe Salavea. There were heroes all along the front seven.
Maybe if they were facing a quarterback with a little more experience they would have lost, because their offense was played out. Done. Mark Brunell and Clinton Portis had played themselves to exhaustion, and the O-line was starting to crumble, under the pressure of the Buccaneer rush.
WHAT LIES AHEAD: I think the Redskins are a tired team right now. They beat the Seahawks 20-17 in overtime in Washington in October, controlling the second and third quarters, while the Hawks controlled the fourth. Then the Skins got off the only significant drive in OT to win it, Brunell scrambling for 18 yards on one key play.
Washington is the tougher team, but the Hawks are rested and they've got tremendous firepower. One nagging thing I can't forget, though, is how they blew their chance to beat the 'Skins last time by playing it cozy.
Kelly Herndon intercepted a Brunell pass and returned it to Washington's 33 with 49 seconds left in regulation time. Mike Holmgren chose to run the ball twice, for four yards, and let the clock run down. Then the 47-yard field goal try, hardly a gimme, hit the left upright. The icy fingers on the throat. Please, God, don't let us screw it up. Marty Schottenheimer lost a playoff game to HermanEdwards that way last year and Edwards lost it to Bill Cowher the same way a week later.
The Redskins have guts but they're tired. The Seahawks have the big scoring potential.