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Cowboys news: Why Dallas needs Amari Cooper to be a difference-maker against Seahawks

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Amari Cooper made a huge impact on the Cowboys season, now they need him to be the difference on Wild Card weekend.

Which version of Amari Cooper will face Seahawks on Saturday? - Todd Archer, ESPN
Amari Cooper has been a huge difference-maker for the Cowboys but has had a quiet close to the season. Will he heat back up this weekend?

The Seahawks play a lot of single-high safety, which creates one-on-one matchups similar to what Cooper faced against the Eagles.

“There’s a lot of excitement because there’s a lot of opportunity,” Cooper said. “When teams play two-high, kind of gets more difficult to catch passes over the top and things like that.”

The arrival of Cooper in an October trade from the Oakland Raiders helped change the trajectory of the Cowboys’ season. He gave Prescott an outside threat the quarterback did not have in the first seven games. A passing game that was stagnant now had some juice.

Amari Cooper was the Cowboys’ missing piece and now they need him more than ever vs. Seattle - Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay
Amari Cooper has turned around the season.

The Cowboys deemed the 24-year-old, two-time Pro Bowler their missing piece and worthy of the 2019 first-round draft pick they gave the Oakland Raiders to get him. When the trade was made Oct. 22, the Cowboys were 3-4. The 7-2 finish to the regular season and wild-card playoff game Saturday night against Seattle at AT&T Stadium -- another chance for a franchise starved for postseason success -- seemed almost fantastical at the time.

Amari Cooper hopes to be the difference this time vs Seahawks - Clarence Hill, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The last time these two teams met in week three of this season, the Cowboys had no idea who could make plays in the passing game.

“They brought me here to make plays,” Amari Cooper said. “I believe I can do that … Very excited to get things rolling.”

Cooper was not with the Cowboys when they lost to the Seahawks, 24-13, on Sept. 23 in Seattle. Dak Prescott had his worst game of the season, completing 19 of 34 passes for 168 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions for a passer rating of 54.5. Tight end Geoff Swaim led the Cowboys with five catches. But most glaring was the lack of weapons Dallas had on the outside.

Cole Beasley was the top wideout with three catches for 46 yards. It prompted the trade for Cooper during the bye week that jump-started the passing game. Cooper has 53 catches for 725 yards and six touchdowns in nine games with the Cowboys. The yardage was more than all but seven receivers in the league.

Flip Side: How will the Seahawks choose to cover Amari Cooper? - Bryan Broaddus, Dallas Cowboys
The question for Seattle is how to deal with Cooper.

Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper vs. Seattle Seahawks CB Shaquill Griffin

Amari Cooper is an accomplished route runner while Griffin is one of the best corners in the league when it comes to playing the position. Griffin will test Cooper when it comes to his release off the line. Griffin is a square player that shows the ability to use his hands and feet in order to maintain balance and positioning initially in the route.

Where receivers have had some success against Griffin has been at the top of the route. Griffin doesn’t have the power to hang in there when a receiver bullies him. This is how you get separation on him as Allen Hurns did back in week three. Cooper is physical enough to present the same type of issues for Griffin. But where Cooper is different than Hurns is that he can win much earlier in the route, which will put Griffin in chase mode.

Cowboys, Seahawks figure to focus on runs of Elliott, Carson - Staff, FOX Sports
The Seahawks travel to Dallas hoping to bring their top-rated run offense on the road but the Cowboys have the league's leading rusher. Two heavyweight ground games set to battle it out for NFC supremacy.

Ezekiel Elliott won his second NFL rushing title in three seasons for a Dallas offense that has been defined by the ground game for several years now.

Seattle takes the league’s No. 1 rushing offense into a wild-card playoff against the Cowboys on Saturday night, led by Chris Carson, but with more help from others than your average pro backfield .

While receiver Amari Cooper’s impact on the Dallas passing game was dramatic following a midseason trade, and Seattle’s Russell Wilson again finished among the NFL leaders in touchdowns passing, both teams figure to try to control the second postseason meeting between these franchises with their running backs.

There is a lot at stake for the Cowboys, but these two guys are auditioning for their future - DannyPhantom, Blogging The Boys
The Dallas Cowboys have a lot on the line when they play the Seattle Seahawks in Saturday’s wild card game, but it’s even more important for these two guys to have a strong showing.

It’s been a roller-coaster ride when it comes to watching this Cowboys offense. Sometimes they are flying down the field, but then other times they sputter. The performance of Dak Prescott has a big correlation to whether the team wins or loses which seems to make sense - he’s the quarterback. But it matches up pretty tightly with Dak as the Cowboys have won every game where he’s had a passing rating above 100 (8-0). Every game. Simply put, if Prescott can play a good game, the Cowboys just don’t lose.

Dak has an impressive 32-16 record over his first three seasons in the league. He’s had a winning record every year since coming into the league. There aren’t a lot of quarterbacks who can say that, but the QB lining up on the other side of the field on Saturday, Russell Wilson, is one of them.

What chances do the Dallas Cowboys have of keeping Kris Richard? - Kristi Scales, SportsDay
Since Black Monday that saw multiple NFL coaches lose their jobs, Kris Richard has been atop many organizations list. Can Dallas sway him to stay?

Following his Wednesday press conference, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett was asked if defensive backs coach Kris Richard had any job interviews lined up this week in advance of the Cowboys’ Wild Card playoff game. Garrett confirmed that, because of the short work week with the game being on Saturday, Richard will not interview this week with teams that have head coaching vacancies. Garrett would not speculate on whether Richard will interview in the week following the Wild Card game.

With eight head coaching jobs available, I think it’s going to be tough to keep an up-and-comer like Richard, in spite of the NFL’s so-called turn towards wide open, creative offenses and many team’s desires to hire “the next Sean McVay”. Defense still wins in this league (ask Baltimore and the Cowboys). And Richard is definitely a hot commodity. The folks here inside The Star, particularly his colleagues on the Cowboys’ coaching staff, continually sing his praises.

3 & Out: This Cowboys-Seahawks playoff matchup is about two mentally tough teams - Rob Phillips, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys and Seahawks are two battle-tested teams that win games despite their deficiencies, it's perfect for the playoffs.

You can make the argument that Saturday’s wild-card matchup at AT&T Stadium features the two most playoff-prepared teams in the NFC field. Here’s why:

I went through all 32 teams’ schedules, and of the six NFC teams left standing, the Seahawks have played the most games (seven) decided by three points or less. The Cowboys are right behind them with six, including two overtime thrillers – the second-most in the league behind Cleveland (four).

Three biggest reasons the Cowboys' defense continued its transition into a team strength this season - Jon Machota, SportsDay
The Cowboys had a Top-10 defense in their last playoff debut in 2016 but were ousted by the Packers. Here’s why this youthful defense is now ready-made for the postseason.

The average age of the 11 starters on the Cowboys’ 2016 defense was 26. The average age this year is 24 and ½.

One of the areas where the youth has taken over most is at linebacker. Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens were very good in 2016. Lee had a career year. But neither were as athletic as Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch.

The Cowboys have also gotten noticeably younger in the secondary with Jones and Chidobe Awuzie basically replacing veterans Orlando Scandrick and Brandon Carr.

2018 Wild Card: Two similar teams collide with Seahawks at Cowboys - Who do you got?, Seahawks.com
The opinions on the outcome between this weekend’s playoff game between the Cowboys and Seahawks are pretty evenly split.

ESPN.com: Six experts think the Cowboys will win, while five experts pick the Seahawks to win.

Field Yates, ESPN NFL Insider: These teams are similar stylistically, as both want to run the football on offense. The Seahawks led the NFL in total rushing yards and rushing attempts, while Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott led all players in rushing yards and rushing attempts. This might prove to be a low-scoring affair, but the difference-maker is the home-field edge; the Cowboys -- catalyzed by a young and improving defense -- have won seven of eight games at home this season.