On September 5th the Dallas Cowboys traveled to MetLife Stadium, set up to lose their season opener against the reigning champs. However, a new look secondary, improved pass rush, and outstanding performances by QB Tony Romo, RB Demarco Murray and WR Kevin Ogletree all surged the Cowboys towards an upset victory by a score of 24-17. Although the scoreboard shows that it was only a 7 point game, the viewers know that the game went behind the score and it was not very close, with the Cowboys bullying the Giants all night. On September 16, the Dallas Cowboys are on the road for the second game in a row, travelling to Seattle to take on the Seahawks led by rookie Russel Wilson at home in what is the loudest NFL atmosphere.
Many people expect the Cowboys to take this without to much difficulty, considering the lack of talent on offense and the rookie handling the Quarterback job. However, i predict this game to be just like the NY game: the score will not show truly how close this game may be. Dallas faces a tough challenge and if they don't play with the grit they played with on Sept 5th, they may be in for a surprise loss. Don't count on that though; Coach Garrett is constantly preaching about working hard to prepare for this game and keeping a tough mentality. The Cowboys should be ready for anything the Seahawks throw at them, but don't expect this game to be a breeze.
Demarcus Ware vs Russell Okung
Okung is not the best left tackle in the league. He is not even in the top 15. In fact, the plainest way to say it is that he is a downright disappointing player. Demarcus Ware however, is the absolute best pass rusher in the NFL. Okung will not get any sleep Saturday night as he prepares to get trampled by the relentless and seemingly ageless Demarcus Ware. Expect Ware to bring pressure by himself and record a sack, while also forcing double and triple teams to open up rushing lanes for other rushers like Hatcher and Carter. I see Ware getting a two sacks of his own and allowing his teammates two more opportunities as well.
Marshawn Lynch vs Cowboys LB's
Lynch will be expected to be carry the whole load for the Hawks, as they do not have a threatening receiving squad, and a young rookie QB in Russel Wilson. Lynch is a great RB, but in all honesty, I think he is a tad overrated. The Cowboys LB squad is known for being able to effectively stop rushing attacks, so I do not expect Lynch to have the greatest game, but since he is powerful and can make plays, watch out. I expect him to get the ball 25-30 gaining about 100 yards and adding a score.
Russel Wilson vs Entire Cowboys Defense
Russel Wilson is a rookie and is bound to make some mistakes in only his second NFL game. As mentioned, I see the Cowboys getting on him for four sacks. Don't be fooled; Wilson is a threatening running QB that can burn front sevens when he escapes pressure and finds a hole out of the pocket. However, I see him making rookies mistakes that can lead to these sacks. These sacks will be earned partially because of Demarcus Ware and his unmatched rushing prowess, but also because Wilson will probably make some rookie mistakes like holding on to the ball too long, not paying attention to his blind side, getting to comfortable in the pocket (or scrambling too early). He will be a threat down the road but still has lots of room to grow. The pressure will also be felt with the Cowboys new corners. They were able to flip the switch and turn off the Giants receivers Wednesday night and will look to do so again. Throw in the return of Mike Jenkins and the Cowboys have a formidable corner trio and an able pass rush to frustrate Wilson all day. Expect Wilson to play just a tad better than the Cardinals game, but still not enough to get past Dallas.
Romo and Co. vs Seattle Secondary
Seattle boasts a secondary that can challenge even the Packers pass game. They have elite playmaking safeties in Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, as well as big, physical corners in Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman. Sherman and Browner may not be the best cover corners, but with fast safeties helping over the top, they should give the Cowboys offense something to think about. They are also strong and disruptive at the line of scrimmage, so the receivers vs corners matchup will really be about how well Dez and Austin can beat the press and catch against the safeties. Although I expect the Dallas offense to remain hot, I see the Hawks secondary forcing a turnover.
Cowboys Game Plan: Dallas needs to score early, then drown out the game with rushes and few passes when needed. Ideally, I don't want Romo to make more than 25 attempts and want to see more of Murray using his power and speed to man the engine vs Seattle. Seattle is strong throughout the defense, but the weakest point to attack is the run defense. If Murray remains in midseason form, expect him to take the ball about 25 times, add another 130 yards, as score and keep the offense on the field for a long time.
Seahawks Game Plan: The Seahawks will need to be pretty creative here. They can't successfully attack Dallas through the air, and can't run forever because of the LB's. i expect to see the Hawks lots of different offensive formations at Dallas and use the play action to give Wilson quick windows to throw into. If Wilson offensive line holds up, he may get some chances to take deep shots, since Carr isn't a very fast corner (ironic, car) but will have to watch out, as Claiborne was known as a deep ball playmaker in college.
Quarter by Quarter Prediction:
The game should start off offensively for Dallas then switch to defensive for most of the game. I see Dallas getting the feel for the Hawks defense as they get through a couple of drives that go nowhere. Towards the end, Dallas runs the ball down the field, then uses the pass to catch the secondary off guard and make a couple big plays to set up a TD before the first ends. 7-0.
2nd: The hawks are still trying to figure things out and find soft spots in the Dallas D that their weak offense can exploit. I don't see Wilson having a great day so far, as he frequently is testing the Dallas D but they are passing it with an A+. Dallas manages to drive down again and get it in for another score as the half wanes down. End of 2: 14-0
3rd: The seahawks will be looking to climb up the steep mountain they've built and will start the 3rd off hot. Wilson gets them into the redzone, but takes a couple shots at the endzone but cant get it done and only comes away with a field goal. 14-3. Dallas gets the ball and begins the process of running it out for the game. They take a long drive down, then when they are on the other side of the 50, Romo gets too confident and throws a pick to one of the safeties. This is a huge momentum swing that can bring the Hawks back into this game. With the momentum, they take themselves down the field and get their first TD of the game. 14-10.
4th: The Cowboys are beginning to lose ground, not scoring at all in the third and allowing 10 points. Romo tries some passes but never gets the rythym he wants and Dallas has to punt. Russel Wilson gets to midfield with a chance to take the lead at home. But he gets to excited when he sees a a tiny deep window, makes a rookie mistake and throws a pick, the first pass of the year that Dallas intercepts. Dallas uses the boost to get downfield and into the endzone to increase their lead 21-10. Wilson is faced with a tough task, having just half a quarter to play, needing an 11 point comeback. He makes slow progress, getting in for a field goal to cut it down 21-13. But Dallas proves to be clutch again as Dallas converts important third downs and keeps to ball long enough to get in a field goal, leaving just about 30 seconds left, in which the Seahawks are unable to produce anything to save the game.
Final Score: Dallas wins 24-13.
Key Player projected Stats:
Romo: 20/25 230 yards 2 TD 1 INT
Murray: 25 rush, 130 yards, 1 TD
Bryant: 6 rec, 90 yards, 1 TD
Austin: 5 rec, 75 yards, 1 TD
Witten: 6 rec, 60 yards
Ogletree: 3 rec, 30 yards
Ware: 5 tackles, 2 sacks
Lee: 10 tackles, 1 pass defended
Hatcher: 2 tackles, 1 sack
Carter: 6 tackles, 1 sack
Carr: 3 tackles, 1 pass defended
Claiborne: 3 tackles, 1 pass defended, 1 INT
Wilson: 18/27 180 yards 0 TD 1 INT
Lynch: 25 rush, 100 yards, 1 TD
Thomas: 5 tackles, 1 pass defended, 1 INT