In week 3 of the regular season, the Seahawks hosted the Cowboys and beat them 24 to 13. It was the immortal game where the 0-2 Seahawks first started their re-dedication to running the football. Chris Carson carried it a whopping 32 times after being limited to just 6 carries the week prior (where the coaching staff either forgot about him, or doubted his conditioning). That proved to be a mistake, and the Dallas game proved it, as he racked up 102 yards and a touchdown.
That’s not an amazing average, but the Cowboys in 2018 had one of the top defenses in the league against the run (giving up the 5th fewest yards per game and yards per attempt), so you have to figure just having a 100-yard back is pretty amazing.
The thing about this matchup is: these aren’t the same Cowboys. Those Cowboys – after their week 3 defeat – fell to 1-2 (the same record as the Seahawks). The Cowboys would eventually fall to 3-5 at the midway point in the season, which was right around the time they traded a first round pick to the Raiders for Amari Cooper. The Cowboys finished their season 7-1 to win the NFC East and earn this first round home game.
Regardless of the quality of your opponents, 7-1 is nothing to sneeze at. They beat the Eagles twice, and the #1 seed Saints at home; their only loss was a flukey road game against Indy where they were shut out. But, other than that, the Cowboys have been one of the more clutch teams, winning all 7 of those late-season games by 8 points or less. They have the league’s #1 running back in Ezekiel Elliott, they figured out how to unleash Amari Cooper after he’d been floundering in Oakland for the last few seasons, and Dak Prescott has stepped his game back up after a rocky sophomore campaign.
More importantly, their defense is legit, and apparently they have Kris Richard to thank?! They’ve given up the 7th fewest yards and 6th fewest points. They’re middle-of-the-road in sacks, but don’t be fooled, because they can generate a ton of pressure. I already talked about their rush defense being key, but their pass defense is no slouch either, giving up just 234.7 yards per game.
But, here’s the other thing about this matchup: these aren’t the same Seahawks either.
We all know what the Seahawks have done – going 10-4 since week 2, while putting up a fight in each of our losses against tough opponents – and what the Seahawks are good at. So, let’s talk about how it relates to this game on Saturday.
The absolute key of keys will be the offensive line. D.J. Fluker appears to be ready to go, and it sounds like J.R. Sweezy will give it a try and see how he feels on gameday. Having them both back and healthy is going to be critical, not just for this game, but for the rest of this season. I mean, you saw what happened last week, when both of them sat out! The Cardinals almost upset us! You saw what happened against the 49ers when we had to fill some holes; it was a disaster!
If either of them miss time in this game, we’re in trouble. Because if the #1-A key to this game is the O-Line, then #1-B is turnovers. The Cowboys aren’t particularly great – on either side of the ball – at turnovers, so if we give them additional possessions, we’re probably going to be fucked. Their defense is too good for us to overcome a ton of mistakes. On the flipside, if OUR defense can knock the ball out of their hands and recover some of those fumbles, we might be talking about a serious spanking.
On a neutral field, if you played this game 100 times, I think the Seahawks win more than they lose. On this particular field, on this particular day, I think the Seahawks are more than capable of doing what needs to be done. Odds are – if we do prevail – we’ll have to go on the road to play New Orleans, which is a TALL order, and will likely require some of that special Russell Wilson goodness. I’d like to save that – if there is indeed a finite amount of it in the 2018 season – for next week, and just take care of business here against the Cowboys.
On the flipside, I’m worried about Zeke. That dude is a STUD and our defense has been pretty weak at stopping the run this year. Thankfully, we have Bobby Wagner, who is our rock. Maybe even MORE thankfully, K.J. Wright is back and playing like his old self. He’s going to be our defensive #1-A key, because not only will he need to track Elliott, but he’ll likely find himself shading towards Cole Beasley whenever Justin Coleman isn’t on him. We all know what Amari Cooper can do. I’m sure he’ll get his, but I have my doubts that he’ll blow up like he has at times since the trade. I do fear Beasley quite a bit, because he’s shifty, he’s quick, and he tears up those underneath routes (which our defense tends to give up, as we do everything in our power to prevent opposing offense from taking the top off). So, covering him will be critical, but more importantly, SOUND TACKLING will be the name of the game.
We lose this game if we lose the turnover battle, and if we get tore apart on 3rd down. If Dak has a clean pocket, he can easily dink and dunk his way down the field on us, so let’s wrap up, let’s take good angles, and let’s stay healthy out there! I know a lot of our depth is injured, so keeping our able bodies on the field will be super important.
In the end – like with most every Seahawks game – I think it’s a coin flip. I’d give the edge to the good guys, but if we’re all disappointed come Saturday night, I won’t be shocked. If the Seahawks DO win, don’t be surprised if it’s some oddball score, so I’m going to predict something in the realm of 26-12. Don’t ask me how we get to that number, but that’s what I’m going with.