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Today's Games

January 14, 2006|SAM FARMER

Washington (11-6) at

Seattle (13-3)

1:30 p.m.,

Channel 11

*--* THE OUTLOOK

*--*

* Redskin update: Washington won last week despite an anemic performance by its offense. The Redskins will be looking for a productive game from Clinton Portis, who is nursing sore shoulders. Bruiser Ladell Betts should take some of the load off of him, however. Tampa Bay did a good job last weekend of taking Santana Moss out of the game, limiting him to two catches. But Moss had a big outing in the first game against the Seahawks, keeping alive the winning drive in overtime by catching two passes on third and 10 for a total of 43 yards.

* Seahawk update: Four Seattle players were selected to the All-Pro team this week, the biggest representation in team history: tackle Walter Jones, guard Steve Hutchinson, running back Shaun Alexander and fullback Mack Strong. Most people will be watching Alexander, the league's most valuable player, but the three others were key components to his gaining all those yards rushing and scoring all of those touchdowns. A player to watch on defense is rookie linebacker Lofa Tatupu, a former USC standout who finished second to San Diego's Shawne Merriman in defensive-rookie-of-the-year balloting. Tatupu had a team-high 104 tackles, only the second time a rookie has led the Seahawks in tackles.

* Key statistic: The Seahawks finished 8-0 at home for the second time in three seasons.

* The scoop: The Redskins have won six straight games, more than any other playoff team. But traveling across the country to play Seattle will be especially tough. Much like the Indianapolis Colts, the Seahawks need to prove they haven't lost their edge after finishing the regular season with a meaningless loss, then sitting out last week with a bye.

* The line: Seattle by 9 1/2 .

--SAM FARMER

*--* THE MATCHUP

*--*

* Series record: Redskins lead, 9-4.

* Last meeting: Redskins 20, Seahawks 17 (OT), Oct. 2, 2005, at Washington.

* Last week: Redskins beat Buccaneers, 17-10. Seahawks had bye, lost to Packers, 23-17, in Week 17.

* Redskin offense: Overall (11), rush (7), pass (21).

* Redskin defense: Overall (9), rush (13), pass (10).

* Seahawk offense: Overall (2), rush (3), pass (13).

* Seahawk defense: Overall (16t), rush (5),

pass (25).

*

NEW ENGLAND (11-6) AT DENVER (13-3)

5 p.m. PST,

Channel 2

*--* THE OUTLOOK

*--*

* Patriot update: New England's defense is coming back to life, even with linebacker Tedy Bruschi's nursing a calf strain that kept him out of the wild-card game against Jacksonville. The pass rush was ferocious against the Jaguars -- Willie McGinest alone had 4 1/2 sacks -- and defensive back Asante Samuel has intercepted three passes in his last four games. The key for the Patriots will be stopping the run, something New England has struggled with in the past. Denver is averaging 158.7 yards a game on the ground, second in the league to Atlanta.

* Bronco update: Coach Mike Shanahan hasn't won a playoff game since John Elway retired after the 1999 Super Bowl, but that could change this year. The Broncos have a typically strong running game, and they've gotten good production from remarkably steady Jake Plummer, a Pro Bowl alternate who will make the trip to Hawaii now that Carson Palmer is out. One injury that could hamper the Broncos is cornerback Darrent Williams' groin pull. Although he's expected to play, it doesn't look as if he'll be an every-down performer. He played a significant role in Denver's victory over New England earlier this season.

* Key statistic: In his last five playoff games, Patriot quarterback Tom Brady has thrown for 11 touchdowns and one interception for a cumulative passer rating of 107.9.

* The scoop: If any team has had New England's number, it's the Broncos, who have beaten the two-time defending Super Bowl champions three times in four meetings. In the Patriots' lone victory, they rolled the dice by taking a safety late in the fourth quarter. The key for New England will be stopping Denver's running attack, which the Patriots haven't done reliably in the past.

* The line: Denver by 3.

--SAM FARMER

*--* THE MATCHUP

*--*

* Series record: Broncos lead, 24-15.

* Last meeting: Broncos 28, Patriots 20, Oct. 16, 2005, at Denver.

* Last week: Patriots beat Jaguars, 28-3. Denver had bye, beat Chargers, 23-7, in Week 17.

* Patriot offense: Overall (7), rush (24), pass (2).

* Patriot defense: Overall (26), rush (8), pass (31).

* Bronco offense: Overall (5), rush (2), pass (18).

* Bronco defense: Overall (15), rush (2), pass (29).

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