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PIGSKIN PICKS WEEK 21: SPECIAL ONLINE EDITION

Friday, Jan. 4 | By Peter Brewington
*NOTE TO READERS:
Point spreads and over-under totals are being used for the playoffs. The spreads we’re using this week are Seattle by 2½ points, Houston by 4½, Green Bay by 7½ , Baltimore by 6½. The over-unders we’re using are Seattle/Redskins 46½ points; Houston/Cincinnati 43½ points; Green Bay/Minnesota 46½ points; Baltimore/Indy 46½ points.
The next Pigskin Picks will appear in the Jan. 11 Fauquier Times-Democrat, and include updated records.

JOHN OWENS
REDSKINS 20-17 (Redskins cover)
UNDER
Houston 28-20 (Houston covers)
OVER
Green Bay 31-20 (Green Bay covers)
OVER
Baltimore 27-24 (Indianapolis covers)
OVER
North Dakota St. 23-13
COMMENTS: What an emotional game last week. No time to rest as a very large task looms ahead. For the last few weeks I remarked to myself that Seattle would be a dangerous team in the playoffs. They have an offense very similar to that of Washington, combined with a hawkish (pardon the pun) defensive secondary. This a team to be respected and feared, the Skins should know as their last two playoff bids were both ended by Seattle. The keys to victory for the Skins will be minimizing mistakes (protect the ball, don’t throw into coverage), staying committed to the run, continued excellence in stopping big returns (Leon Washington is a Pro Bowler), and corralling Marshawn Lynch. The Skins need to put the game on Russell Wilson’s shoulders alone. It’s been nice seeing all of the tributes to Ray Lewis upon the announcement of his retirement. If you pull up his career stats and compare them to London Fletcher’s, you’ll see they are not very different. Will London get the same love and respect one day? Probably not.
With the regular season over, AP balloters will begin voting on their year-end awards. Here are my personal choices:
-MVP: Adrian Peterson. (The Vikings are 10-6. Without AP, maybe they are 4-12.)
-Offensive Player: Adrian Peterson. (He was 9 yards away from a very lofty record.)
-Defensive Player: J.J. Watt. (So close to breaking the sack record.)
-Offensive Rookie: Robert Griffin III. (Consistent play all season, minimal mistakes. Can Luck and Wilson say the same?)
-Defensive Rookie: Luke Kuechly. (He led the league in tackles as a rookie!)
-Comeback Player: Peyton Manning. (Has he lost a step? With 10 straight wins, does it matter?)
-Coach: Bruce Arians. (Not sure if he is eligible, but the Colts interim coach worked magic this season.)

KAREN INGRAM
REDSKINS 27-24 (Redskins cover)
OVER
Houston 24-17 (Houston covers)
UNDER
Minnesota 30-24 (Minnesota covers)
OVER
Indianapolis 24-21 (Indianapolis covers)
UNDER
North Dakota St. 31-27
COMMENTS: Who could relax watching the Redskins/Dallas game. I cannot remember a game when I was so tense and nervous. But they did it and we beat Dallas, again!! The Redskins won their division and, as I said from the beginning, if the Redskins just beat Dallas I’ll be happy. Well here we are, we beat Dallas. As a longtime Redskins fan, I am not sure what to do now? It has been such a great season, with some superstars no one thought about. Alfred Morris who? I would say the Redskins would go all the way and beat the Seahawks if RGIIIwas 100%. In my mind we already won the Super Bowl, but the reality is that this may be the game that takes us out. I think it will be a close game and the determining factor will be very small. It may be that one missed field goal or that one red zone play the Skins do not make. The Skins have been fighting each and every game and so far they have come out on top. No doubt they will fight hard again this week. I am so proud of how far my Skins have come this year. I am actually looking forward to next year as a Skins fan with bragging rights. As a true Redskins fan, I will not go against the Redskins, because I really want this win!


PETER BREWINGTON
REDSKINS 27-24 (Redskins cover)
OVER
Houston 23-17 (Houston covers)
UNDER
Green Bay 33-21 (Green Bay covers)
OVER
Baltimore 30-23 (Balitmore covers)
OVER
North Dakota St. 30-24
COMMENTS: I, like my fellow panelists, was on pins and needles late into the night pulling for the Skins. Kai Forbath's missed kick seemed likely to haunt us, and Tony Romo's ability to make late comeback drives this year concerned me. Even the last few moments of the game were nervous. What to expect against the Seahawks? Well, Russell Wilson did look great against the Niners a few weeks ago, and is healthier than our QB. Plus, that Seahawks defense looks so physical, they should be illegal. But, really, it's a home game against a West Coast team that has to make a long flight. Wilson is a rookie. The Skins are having a magical year. This is a really advantageous situation.

GARY LEAKE
REDSKINS 24-21 (Redskins cover)
UNDER
Houston 28-23 (Houston covers)
OVER
Green Bay 31-20 (Green Bay covers)
OVER
Indy 27-24 (Indy covers)
OVER
North Dakota State 45-35
COMMENTS: The Redskins’ success this season has been generated by the coaching staff. In August a lot of people were questioning the abilities of the offensive line but the coaches consistently praised their offseason workouts and their potential to contribute at a high level. When a lot of people questioned the selection of RG III, thinking that the team had mortgaged the future to take a QB, the coaches stood firm supporting their decision. A lot of people questioned the selection of a running back in the 6th round and preferred the team to address glowing needs on defense. A lot of people questioned the philosophy of defensive coordinator, Jim Haslett. Fast forward to January 2013: the coaches’ ability to evaluate talent, prepare game plans based on the talent on both sides of the ball, motivate players and to return this franchise back to greatness must be praised! It’s exciting again to be a Redskin fan, knowing that this general manager and coaching staff will work together to put the best product possible on the field every Sunday. This winning streak is providing maximum confidence to both the rookies and vets on this team. Win or lose, you can’t replace the value of actual playoff experience. The team is now “on track” and the future looks incredibly bright!!

CHRIS JOHNSTON
REDSKINS 38-35 (Redskins cover)
OVER
Cincinnati 28-21 (Cincy cover)
OVER
Minnesota 31-28 (Minnesota cover)
OVER
Baltimore 24-17 (Baltimore cover)
UNDER
Sam Houston St. 27-24
COMMENTS: I hope Minnesota can repeat their win over the Packers. I am picking the underdogs to move up in the rankings. The Redskins are looking good and their game should be a good one. This is the first time I will remember the Redskins in the playoffs and Virginia Tech won their bowl game. It has been a great season. I'm looking for the Hokies and Logan Thomas to be improved next year and get back to 10 wins.

BRANDON HARTMAN
REDSKINS 27-24 (Redskins cover)
OVER
Cincinnati 31-27 (Cincy covers)
OVER
Green Bay 24-21 (Minnesota covers)
UNDER
Baltimore 20-17 (Indianapolis covers)
UNDER
North Dakota St. 27-21
COMMENTS: I can see why the Seahawks are favorites to win. They have a tough defense, versatile quarterback, and a Pro Bowl running back. However, the Redskins give me a feeling that I have never felt before with them. That feeling is confidence. At the start of every drive I am expecting the Skins to score, whether it's RG3 flinging the ball down field or Alfred Morris running through arm tackles. The nerves that used to come with Redskins teams of the past are just not there any more. This is only the second time that I can actually watch my favorite team in the playoffs and it is a very different feeling. I like it.


SUSAN HARRIS
REDSKINS 35-31 (Redskins cover)
OVER
Cincinnati 28-17 (Cincy covers)
OVER
Minnesota 28-24 (Minnesota covers)
OVER
Baltimore 33-25 (Baltimore covers)
OVER
North Dakota St. 15-10
COMMENTS: You should never give me lots of space, I can talk forever. No matter what the Skins do now, there’s no greater victory than beating Dallas. That was like the Super Bowl itself. I love the way we keep running the ball, pounding out those first downs. My daughter is wearing her London Fletcher jersey all week. I was sorry to see so many coaches go but I guess it’s the nature of the job. I would love to have Lovie Smith come to Washington but I think Shanahan will be keeping his job. Amazing how few penalties there were in the Dallas/Skins game. Going to be nerve-wracking but oh so much fun on Sunday.


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