The Dallas Cowboys are in the Pacific Northwest to play the Seattle Seahawks as they try to get on a roll to start the season. Coming off their gratifying win over the New York Giants (I do not get tired of writing that), the Cowboys are trying to avoid a letdown against a team they are favored to beat.
As part of our continuing efforts to keep you up to date here at Blogging The Boys, here are some links to help get you ready for the game.
First off, the weather is expected to be really good. Sunny skies with a high of around 78 are in the forecast at the time I write this. Should be nearly perfect conditions for some football.
Links to more articles about both teams after the jump.
In the injury report, the Cowboys have three players out, Jay Ratliff, Phil Costa and Matt Johnson. No one is listed as questionable. The Seahawks injury report lists one player out, WR Charly Martin, with T Russell Okung and TE Zack Miller both questionable. Okung will certainly be a target for Rob Ryan's defense if he does go with his knee injury.
Dallas has two players expected to see action for the first time this season. Rookie Kyle Wilber is going to be sporting a familiar accessory (at least to Cowboys fans).
Cowboys rookie linebacker Kyle Wilber practiced with a club-like cast on the end of his left hand Wednesday for the first time and will continue to wear the club - similar to the one worn last year by linebacker Sean Lee - as his injured left thumb continues to heal.
At least he has someone to tell him how it's done.
Also, Mike Jenkins will be in the lineup. And he might be all over the place when he does play.
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said Jenkins has the same type of versatile attributes as another All-Pro cornerback he had in Oakland. It's a unique ability that should allow Jenkins to play in multiple spots across the field in Ryan's defense, possibly even at safety.
"When I had Charles Woodson in Oakland, Charles Woodson's an All-Pro corner, but he can also do a lot of other things," Ryan said. "I think Mike Jenkins has those types of traits.
Jenkins is likely to be somewhat limited in his snaps, as he still has to get back into football shape. But the hope is he will be a further upgrade to a secondary that is already looking markedly improved from last year.
A couple of takes on things that may have a strong influence on the outcome:
The San Antonio Express News has five things to watch. One is the two running backs in the game, both of whom have done some damage to the other team.
DeMarco Murray rushed for 139 yards on 22 carries in a 23-13 win over Seattle last season. Last week against the Giants, he gained 131 yards on 20 attempts as the Cowboys improved their record to 4-0 when the former Oklahoma star hits the century mark.
Marshawn Lynch carried 23 times for 135 yards, including a late 4-yard touchdown run, against Dallas last season. Despite a sore back, he plowed his way to 85 yards on 21 carries in the opener.
And at the Dallas Morning News, four keys to the game include the defense attacking rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.
Even though Wilson is known for his ability to process information, he's inexperienced and hasn't been exposed to the sophisticated schemes that are commonplace in the NFL. Ryan's goal this week should be same as it always is - confound and disrupt the quarterback.
Speaking of Wilson, he is providing a good preliminary for the Cowboys as they will get a chance to deal with a more mobile quarterback than Eli Manning.
In the second half of the season, the Cowboys play Philadelphia and Washington four times. Barring injuries, that means four hours of chasing Michael Vick and Robert Griffin III around the field. Prior to that, the Cowboys go to Carolina in October to face another Heisman Trophy winner, Cam Newton.
But for now, the task is to contain and control the Seahawks' Russell Wilson.
The writers at DallasCowboys.com share their "gut feelings" about the game, including this one from Nick Eatman.
I've said since the schedule came out in April this is the earliest "Must-Win" game of the season. Win or lose against the Giants, the Cowboys simply HAD to beat Seattle here. If the Cowboys want to be the team that can make a run in the playoffs, they can't have a hangover here in Seattle.
One interesting connection between the two teams has to do with the second round draft pick the Cowboys traded to get Morris Claiborne. Jerry Jones has revealed that the team would likely have picked linebacker Bobby Wagner, who wound up going to the Seahawks. The team gets to see what they missed - but don't expect them to feel too bad.
Bruce Carter, the 2011 second-round linebacker, has done just as the club had hoped another year off the torn ACL that dropped him out of first-round contention, winning the starting job and playing effectively.
That one's for you, Tarheel Paul.
For an idea of what is being said about the game in Seattle, here are a few selections from the local coverage. From the Seahawks' SBN site, Field Gulls, there is a "Know Your Enemy" article. It has some really excellent analysis of the Cowboys and what they bring to the game. But then, they were very intelligent in how they gathered the info.
Told you it had some good stuff.
From the same site, there is an article about how to attack the Cowboys' defense.
Things don't get any easier for the Seahawks' offense in Week 2 as they draw a much-improved Dallas defense, coached by Rob Ryan. The Cowboys' defense is characterized fairly similarly to Arizona's in that they like to blitz on overloads and rely on man-to-man cornerback play to mitigate risk over the top. Their major upgrade this season over last is that they now have two top-level (potentially, anyway) cornerbacks in free agent signee Brandon Carr and rookie first round pick Morris Claiborne. Underneath, they have excellent pass rushers - particularly DeMarcus Ware, and middle linebacker Sean Lee is an up-and-coming star in this league.
Well, except for the (potentially, anyway), I will concur with that.
From the "real media", there is a piece about one Seattle weapon that Joe DeCamillis' special teams will have to do a good job against, kick and punt returned Leon Washington. After a down year in 2011, he is getting back into the form that made him so effective the year before.
In the team's season opener against Arizona last week, Washington was able to break an 83-yard kickoff return that set Seattle up in prime position for the Seahawks' only touchdown of the game. He then managed to break free for 52 yards on a punt return that led to a field goal to give Seattle a 16-13 lead in the fourth quarter.
And finally, here is a look at the game from our old friend JimmyK at his Blogging the Beast site.
After watching the Seahawks-Cardinals game, I came away thoroughly impressed with the Seahawks' defense. In my opinion, if you look at the 4 major units that will be on the field Sunday afternoon in Seattle, and we're talking about the Cowboys offense, the Cowboys defense, the Seahawks offense and the Seahawks defense, the Seahawks defense is clearly the best unit. Unfortunately for the Hawks, their offense is also very clearly the worst unit.
Well, we'll see who has the best defense. Seriously, the article has some nice photos breaking down the good of the D and the bad of the O (particularly the line), and is worth a look.
Hope that whets the old appetite. And hopefully we will all be having a big glass of Kool Aid after all is said and done.