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Can The Cowboys Run On The Seahawks' Stingy Run Defense?

The GMC Playbook question of the week for Dallas and Seattle points out that one of this season's irresistible forces is meeting one of the immovable objects.

Tom Pennington

This week, Marshall Faulk ask a question specific to the upcoming game for the Dallas Cowboys.

Here is the text of the question if you might not be able to watch the video:

To be Professional Grade is to be confident. Seattle, at home, with one of the best defenses in football? Now that's confident. Dallas, with the rebuilt offensive line, and this new explosive running game - that's confident as well. Dallas must win the offensive line of scrimmage to come out on top. But can you run on Seattle consistently, in Seattle? Wow... that's a good one.

I have to agree. That is a good one. It sums up one of the two things that Dallas has to do to win this game, with the other being to contain Russell Wilson while not letting Marshawn Lynch get loose on them.

Here are some specific figures to frame the question.

If DeMarco Murray continues his streak of 100-yard games on Sunday, it will be his most impressive performance of the season. Seattle leads the league in rushing defense, allowing just 62 yards per game - a full 100 yards fewer than what the Cowboys are putting up.

Big Picture: Seattle Is Best Test Yet For Dallas' New Identity

That is definitely strength going against strength. Something has to give. And, as Faulk states, it is on the shoulders of the offensive line for the Cowboys if they hope to pull off the upset. Based on Bryan Broaddus' scouting, DT Brandon Mebane is the Seattle player who has the biggest role in stopping the run, and the matchup to watch is probably going to be him against Travis Frederick. But that is just the featured fight, since the running game for Dallas has relied upon everyone doing their job this season. And that is not just the offensive line. The receivers have also been instrumental in the unprecedented success of DeMarco Murray, who is the first Cowboys player and third running back in league history to open the season with five consecutive 100+ yard rushing games.

Call me a homer, but I think the Cowboys have the advantage here. Murray has done very well with yards before contact, which is another sign of how good the blocking is in front of him. But the most important number in the argument is that Murray is ahead of the number two rusher in the league, Le'Veon Bell, by 210 yards. After only five games. Part of that is due to him also having 36 more attempts than the number two in that category (who happens to be LeSean McCoy, of the 2.9 yards per attempt average). And the high number of attempts is another reason why the Cowboys should win this battle.

In the not too distant past, this would not be a battle I would feel confident about. That lack of faith would not come from a lack of talent. After all, except for guard Zack Martin, the personnel involved in the running game are the same as they were last season. But before the arrival of Scott Linehan, we all know just how often the determination to run the ball would melt away and the burden of eking out a win would fall heavily on Tony Romo and his arm. Now, as was clearly illustrated in both the Rams and the Texans games, this team refuses to stop pounding the ball. The attack is going to be balanced, and under that condition I believe that Murray will break through at some point. That goes right back to the belief that those big uglies up front will eventually win the battle. In five games so far, they always have.

It will be a challenge, certainly, and even if Murray gets his sixth consecutive 100 yard game, the team still has to win other battles to get a W out of the game. But I think Dallas will win when they are trying to run behind that offensive line. And that makes winning the game possible.

Join the #GMCPlaybook discussion at and on Twitter by following @thisisgmc & @marshallfaulk.

Follow me @TomRyleBTB

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