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5 Matchups to Watch as Seahawks Face Washington On Monday Night Football

Despite holding losing records heading into Monday's prime time contest, Seattle and Washington remain very much alive in the NFC playoff hunt. Which matchups will dictate who exits FedEx Field with a crucial victory?

Although the two teams currently have a combined 7-13 record, the Seahawks and Washington Football Team will still have plenty at stake when the two teams battle at FedEx Field on Monday Night Football.

Despite heading into Week 12 on a two-game losing streak, Seattle would be only one game out of the final wild card spot in the NFC with a victory in Landover. Meanwhile, Washington's two-game win streak has pushed them to within 2.5 games of Dallas in the NFC East and a win on Monday would vault them to the No. 7 seed.

With both teams aiming to keep their slim playoff aspirations alive, which matchups will decide who exits with a signature prime time win?

--Seahawks linebackers Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks versus Washington running backs Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic: Slowing down running backs in the passing game has been an ineradicable problem for the Seahawks on defense, particularly when it comes to defending the screen game. That's not a good flaw to have heading into a game against two dynamic dual-threat backs in Gibson and McKissic who can do an immense amount of damage as receivers out of the backfield or lined up outside. Formerly a receiver at Memphis, Gibson has had a few issues with drops this year, but he also possesses sub-4.40 40-yard dash speed and offers home run-hitting ability any time the ball is in his hands. McKissic, who previously played for Seattle, caught 80 passes a year ago and has ran nearly 30 percent of his routes from the slot or outside while snagging 34 receptions for 371 yards this season. Both players have averaged nearly 10 yards after the catch per reception, so the onus will fall on Wagner and Brooks to do a much better job snuffing out screens quickly and finishing tackles to prevent them from getting loose in open field.

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--Seahawks guards Phil Haynes/Kyle Fuller and Gabe Jackson, center Ethan Pocic versus Washington defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne: With Damien Lewis set to miss his second game of the season with a new elbow injury and his backup Jamarco Jones now on injured reserve, Seattle will roll into the nation's capital with a third-string left guard in the starting lineup against an opponent with two former first-round picks starring in the interior. Continuing his ascendance as one of the best all-around defensive tackles in the game, Allen has terrorized opponents as a pass rusher this year, producing 41 total pressures and 6.0 sacks in 10 games thus far. Per Pro Football Focus, he ranks 10th among qualified rushers with a 20.7 percent win rate and will be ready to feast on Haynes or Fuller from 3-tech alignment using his explosive quickness at 310 pounds. While he doesn't have the same quick first step, the 319-pound Payne will also be a pain for Seattle's banged-up interior to deal with, as he has 2.5 sacks and 28 quarterback pressures so far. Pocic will need to be prepared to provide support for whoever plays left guard in both the run and pass game and this matchup could be one that destroys Seattle's entire game plan if the front line can't find a way to keep Allen and Payne out of the backfield.

--Seahawks safety Jamal Adams and Wagner versus Washington tight end Logan Thomas: Dealing with a hamstring injury, Thomas hasn't played since Week 4, but the fifth-year tight end is expected to be activated from injured reserve and suit up on Monday night. Last December, he had one of the best games of his career against the Seahawks, catching a personal-best 13 receptions for 101 yards and moving the chains five times for first downs. He also had 64 yards after the catch, showing off his athleticism picking up chunks of yardage as a ball carrier. Eight of his receptions came working against Wagner and Adams in coverage, with Wagner being charged with six receptions for 57 yards defending him. After Seattle allowed Zach Ertz to go wild last week with eight receptions for 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns, even with Thomas on a pitch count, Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner and quarterback Taylor Heinicke will likely be looking to target the 6-foot-6, 250-pound tight end early and often as a key part of the game plan.

--Seahawks receivers DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Dee Eskridge versus Washington cornerbacks William Jackson, Kendall Fuller, and Danny Johnson: As of late, Washington has been playing better defensively, surrendering only 20 points per game in wins over Tampa Bay and Carolina. But despite investing big bucks in Fuller and Jackson during free agency over the past two offseasons, the secondary has been a major disappointment for Rivera's team, which has allowed the second-most passing touchdowns to receivers in the NFL. After signing a three-year, $40 million contract in March, Jackson's first season has been a mixed bag with five touchdowns allowed and two interceptions. Fuller's performance has also been up and down, as he has given up 468 yards and a 70 percent completion rate while also generating a pick and seven pass breakups. Both defenders have surrendered their share of big plays, which bodes well for Metcalf and Lockett to be able to win downfield if Wilson has time to throw. Washington has also struggled to find a reliable slot cornerback with Johnson being the latest thrust into the lineup. Eskridge, who hasn't been targeted in two games since coming back from a concussion, could be the ultimate wild card with his blazing speed matched up against Johnson.

--Seahawks edge rushers Carlos Dunlap, Darrell Taylor, and Alton Robinson versus Washington tackles Charles Leno and Cornelius Lucas: For most of the season, Seattle's pass rush has fallen well short of expectations with the team ranking 30th in the NFL with 17 sacks. Dunlap's first full year in the Pacific Northwest has been a massive disappointment, as he has yet to register a full sack and has only four quarterback hits. Taylor hasn't been near as effective since coming back from a scary neck injury, failing to produce a sack in the past three games, while Robinson hasn't had a sack since Week 2 and has two total quarterback hits. If there's a game where those three players could come to life, Monday night's contest offers up a prime opportunity with starting right tackle Samuel Cosmi already ruled out. While Leno has been stellar on the left side, he has allowed four sacks this year and can be vulnerable. Replacing Cosmi, Lucas has been solid in limited action this year, allowing only seven pressures and no sacks on 184 pass blocking snaps. With that said, at 6-foot-9, 329 pounds, he can be suspect against speed rushers, presenting an intriguing matchup for Taylor and Robinson pinning their ears back off the edge. If those two and Dunlap can churn up consistent pressure on Heinicke, the young quarterback has been turnover prone and ranks fourth in the league in interceptions thrown.