Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks Preview

In 2011, DeMarco Murray left Seahawks grabbing air.

After their huge week one win over the Giants the Cowboys travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks. These two teams met last year in Dallas with the Cowboys winning that game 23-13 after the game was tied 6-6 at halftime.

The difference maker in that game for Dallas was rookie RB DeMarco Murray who rushed for 139 yards against a Seahawk defense that was ranked 15th in 2011 among NFL rushing defenses. While the Seahawk pass defense ranked a respectable 3rd in the NFC last season, Romo still managed to get 279 yards passing with 2 TDs against them.

The Cowboys defense collected 3 INTs in last year’s game as the Seahawks were struggling at QB and in the passing game. In order to improve their passing game in 2012, the Seahawks brought in QB Matt Flynn from the Packers and also drafted Russell Wilson presumably to back him up. However Wilson played great in the preseason and won the starting job for the opener with the Cardinals.

How did that workout for them? Not so good as Seattle lost to the Cardinals 20-16 and Wilson played sub par at QB going 18/34, 153 yards, 1 TD and an INT.  However Coach Pete Carroll gives no indication that he is ready to go to Flynn just yet saying of Wilson, “they pressured a lot, made it tough on us. But he hung in there, came back, and did a very nice job of getting back into the game in the second half.”

The Cardinals were effective in pressuring Wilson and sacked him 3 times in the game. Considering it was the rookie’s first NFL start, Wilson played well enough for them to win but just fell short in the last seconds near the Cardinals goal line.

Let’s Breakdown how the Seahawks and Cowboys Match Up:

Seahawks offense versus Cowboys defense:

PASSING: Rookie QB Russell Wilson shows great passing ability and he is a threat to run the ball too. Last week against the Giants the Dallas defense didn’t really have to be concerned with Eli Manning running the ball but with Wilson it will need to be prepared to keep Wilson from moving the chains with his legs.

WR Golden Tate has been out with injuries and is expected to miss the Dallas game. WR Charly Martin suffered a bruised lung in the Cardinals game and will miss the Dallas game. And in the Cardinals game WR Doug Baldwin had his “teeth knocked in” (ouch) but is expected to play against Dallas.

Wilson’s main target at wide receiver last week was the dinosaur aging Braylon Edwards who had 5 catches for 43 yards but couldn’t hold on to the pass that could have won the game for them. WR Sydney Rice represents the Seahawks best big play threat in the air.

Wilson makes the Seahawks better at passing this year compared to last but Dallas has 2 new pass “defense attorneys” (Claiborne & Carr) that make them better at defending the pass too. The Cowboys pass defense ranks in the top 5 in the NFL in yards allowed after one week of play.

RUSHING: The running of Marshawn Lynch represents the strength of the Seahawks offense in my view. Lynch rushed for over 1200 yards in 2011 and had 85 yards last week against the Cardinals. Against Dallas last year Lynch broke loose for 135 yards and a TD while averaging 6 yards a carry on a Cowboys defense that was pretty solid against the run. The Cowboys defense didn’t let the Giants running game get going last week but they will have their hands full containing Lynch.

My Take: Top priority for the Dallas defense will be containing RB Marshawn Lynch who had success running on them last year. Lynch will likely get his yards (100 or so) but the Cowboys must prevent the big play. They also must make sure that QB Wilson doesn’t escape the pocket and move the chains by running. I think the one-two punch of “Bruce-Lee” (LBs Bruce Carter and Sean Lee) will be up to that challenge.

I also think the Cowboys’ revamped secondary matches up well against the Seahawk’s depleted WRs. A key to the game will be if Dallas can pressure Wilson like the Cards did and force the rookie into making a couple mistakes. The Cowboys were successful in pressuring Manning last week.

Cowboys Offense versus Seahawks Defense:

PASSING: Other than an INT against the Giants, QB Tony Romo had an outstanding game. WR Kevin Ogletree had a break out career game that saw him get 2 TDs. Last year the Seahawks were 3rd in the NFC in defending the pass and they were impressive last week against the Cardinals holding starter Skelton to only 149 yards passing. QB Kolb came off the bench and added a spark leading the Cards to the winning score.

RUSHING: Cowboys RB Murray was huge in last years contest with the Seahawks and I imagine he will be a problem for the Hawks again. He rushed for 130+ yards last week and in the last meeting with the Seahawks. I look for him to have another big game.

MY TAKE: Romo may not have one of his fantasy football days on the road against a solid Seahawk passing defense but I think he will find WRs enough to keep the Cowboys moving the ball. The ability to run the ball with Murray will be a huge factor. Have to figure that Murray will need over 100 yards rushing for Dallas to win this one. Don’t want to go into Seattle and put it all on Romo.

Seattle Special Teams:

Last week Leon Washington had a 83 yard kickoff return and a 52 yard punt return against the Cardinals. The Cowboys will need to account for Washington on all kicks. He has the ability to change the game quickly.

Bottom Line:

  • Seattle is a very loud stadium for visiting teams and is not an easy place to pick up a “W” however the Cowboys have 10 days to prepare for this game while the Seahawks have one week after a tough physical game with the Cardinals. Advantage Dallas I suppose.
  • The Cowboys secondary has an advantage over a banged up and not so good Seattle WR group. However the Seattle secondary will prove to be better than the Giants secondary the Cowboy WRs faced last week.
  • The Cowboys defense needs to make sure that QB Russell Wilson looks and feels like a NFL rookie by pressuring him and getting a few sacks. Keeping him in the pocket is key.
  • Another challenge will be keeping it from turning into the Marshawn Lynch Show by containing the RB to a reasonable number of yards.
  • Getting the Dallas offense off to fast start, could be critical in making the Seahawks play from behind and taking Lynch out of the game.

Dallas has a good opportunity to go 2-0 on the road and head back to their home stadium.