The NFL playoffs begin Monday, and the Seattle Mariners and Washington Redskins are on the cusp of winning their second consecutive division title.
But the Seahawks and Redskins are also in a battle for the division’s top seed in the NFC West, with both teams vying for a top seed to clinch a postseason berth.
Here are six takeaways from the Seahawks-Redskins playoff match-up, as they begin Monday night:1.
Washington is going to win the division.
That’s no doubt obvious, and there are plenty of reasons for that.
The Seahawks won their division last season with a 9-3 record, but the Redskins haven’t been to the postseason since 2011.
That doesn’t mean they won’t be able to do it again.
The Seattle defense, led by Kirk Cousins, is the best in the league.
The offense should be strong again, and Seattle will be more competitive than it was last year.
That defense will also be a factor, as well, as the Redskins were the worst unit in the NFL last year, giving up 3,094 yards and 31 touchdowns.
If the Redskins can stay healthy, they will be a tough opponent.2.
Kirk Cousins has played a big role in the Seahawks’ success.
After being picked to start for the first time in the playoffs last year after missing all of the 2015 season due to injury, Cousins took over the starting quarterback role.
He threw for a career-high 5,922 yards and 20 touchdowns, and Washington also had one of the best offenses in the AFC, averaging 29.1 points per game.
Cousins finished with an MVP-caliber season in 2015, throwing for 2,977 yards and 21 touchdowns.
The Washington offense should get back to that level of production, and if the defense can stay hot, the Seahawks will have a good chance to win a division.3.
Kirk has a strong arm.
It’s not a great sign when you’re a backup quarterback and you have a better arm than your starting one, but that was the case with Cousins last year with the Redskins.
The two quarterbacks combined for 18 touchdown passes, and that was only Cousins’ third season in the pro game.
The Redskins also had a top-10 defense last year and had some of the most productive offensive lines in the country.
Washington was one of only six teams to allow more points than 300 in 2015.
Cousins is also a better athlete than his backup, and he should be able put up similar numbers.4.
Kirk is going for a repeat.
Cousins has shown glimpses of his old greatness in the past, but he has never been as dominant as he was last season.
He averaged 19.2 points per contest last year before the injury to his throwing shoulder, but then he averaged 24.9 points per performance after returning.
He was just 3-5 in games against the Broncos last season and 6-3 against the Cardinals last year as well.
He also had his lowest-scoring game of the season against the Seahawks in Week 1.
The only other quarterback to average double-digit points in a playoff game is Aaron Rodgers in the Packers Super Bowl victory over the Seahawks, but I would expect Cousins to do the same thing this year.5.
Washington will be good again.
There is no question that Kirk Cousins is the most complete quarterback in the game.
He has thrown for 4,800 yards and 19 touchdowns, which is almost half of the career-best totals for a quarterback with at least 400 passing yards.
He is also completing 66.3 percent of his passes and averaging 8.4 yards per attempt.
He leads the NFL with 12 interceptions.
Cousins also has a career touchdown-to-interception ratio of 1.8, and his 11 touchdowns in 2015 tied for fourth in the entire NFL.
Washington should be a top team again in 2015 and should be better than last year by a significant margin.6.
The defense is going into the playoffs without starting linebacker Brian Orakpo.
Orakpi missed the playoffs in 2014 with a torn ACL, and this season he was forced to miss the entire regular season because of injury.
But he returned to the lineup in Week 6, when he started in the Redskins’ Super Bowl loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He had four tackles and one pass defensed.
He will be back next week against the Los Angeles Chargers.