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Dallas Cowboys 2020 opponent breakdowns: Seattle Seahawks

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The Cowboys will travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks in Week Three.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys will travel to CenturyLink Field, a place they've had their share of struggles, to take on the Seattle Seahawks in Week Three of the 2020 season.

Seahawks Stats

2019 Record: 11-5 (Made Playoffs) Lost in Divisional Round vs Green Bay

Last Meeting: 1/5/2019 Seahawks 22 - Cowboys 24

Head Coach: Pete Carroll (10th season in Seattle) 133-90-1 overall record

Key Additions: TE Greg Olson, OL B.J. Finney, CB Quinton Dunbar, DE Bruce Irvin, WR Phillip Dorsett, RB Carlos Hyde, DT Jarran Reed (Re-Signed), OT Brandon Shell, OL Chance Warmack, OT Cedric Ogbuehi

Key Losses: OT George Fant, DL Quinton Jefferson, DL Al Woods, OT Germain Ifedi, C Justin Britt, OL D.J. Fluker

Offense Outlook

Once again in 2019, the Seattle Seahawks had an extremely effective offense. Led by perennial Pro Bowler Russell Wilson, Seattle had one of the highest-scoring offenses in the league. The Seahawks finished ninth in the league in points per game, eighth in total yards, fourth in passing touchdowns, and fourth in rushing yards.

As usual, the Seahawks were elevated on offense by another MVP-caliber year by Wilson. The former Wisconsin Badger had one of his most efficient years in his now eight-year career. Wilson threw for over 4,000 yards for the first time since 2016, tossed 31 passing touchdowns, and recorded a quarterback rating of 106.3 on the season. Not to mention he had a 66% completion percentage.

Wilson does not just do it through the air, he is also one of the most dangerous quarterbacks on the ground as well. Last season, he ran the ball 75 times for a total of 342 yards, scoring three rushing touchdowns.

Wilson has proved time and time again he is one of, if not the, best quarterback in all of football. According to Pro Football Focus, Wilson had the second highest overall passing rating in 2019 of all quarterbacks, the third highest overall offensive rating of all QBs, and the fifth highest NFL passing rating among all starting quarterbacks. His total PFF offensive rating on the season of 91.9 is the best of his career to date.

It’s even more impressive what Wilson continues to do when you look at the pretty average talent that surrounds him. Last season, Seattle did have an impressive group of running backs. They paired starter Chris Carson with Rashaad Penny and C.J. Prosise, but unfortunately injuries significantly hindered all three.

When Carson, a 1,200 yard back on the season, went down at the end of the year, Seattle had to go get Marshawn Lynch out of retirement to have someone to fill in at the running back spot. Despite the injuries, Seattle was statistically one of the best teams on the ground in all of football. As a team they rushed for 2,200 yards, and failed to hit the 100-yard rushing mark as a team in just two of their regular season games.

Seattle was banking on a good season out of first-year pro DK Metcalf and they got it in a big way. Metcalf gave Wilson another desperately needed wide receiving threat, and the rookie caught 58 passes for 900 yards and seven touchdowns on the season. Tyler Lockett, a guy who has started to solidify himself as a top 15 receiver in the league, followed his 2018 up with another impressive year, catching a team-high 82 passes for 1,057 yards and eight touchdowns.

After Lockett and Metcalf, things got pretty weak talent-wise on their offense. Josh Gordon ended up playing in just five games and John Brown failed to break 250 receiving yards. Seattle struggled searching for a reliable tight end all season. Will Dissly came on strong at the beginning of the year, catching 23 passes for 262 yards in six games, but a patella tendon injury ended his season.

The offensive line is really the only spot where Seattle struggled on offense in 2019. Their line gave up 41 sacks on the year, third most out of any playoff team. Pro Football Focus graded the Seattle’ offensive line in the bottom ten of the league in run blocking, and as the third worst pass blocking line in all of football. Seattle went out this offseason and acquired a few offensive linemen, including third-round pick Damien Lewis, in hopes of fixing their line.

Overall, the Seattle offense starts and ends with Russell Wilson. As long as they have Russ, they are always going to be one of the toughest offenses to slow down in all of football. D.K. Metcalf likely will improve in his second year in the league, and Tyler Lockett has a chance to solidify himself as a top receiver if he has another great year in 2020. Getting their running backs healthy will also help take the load off Wilson in a big way. It really comes down to the offensive line, but Wilson is just so good even if they are poor like they were last year, he still likely can elevate the team to the postseason.

Defense Outlook

For years the Seattle Seahawks were known for their defense. The “Legion of Boom” led Seattle to one of the best defenses in the last decade, but flash forward to today and things look much different. The Seahawks defense was very poor in 2019. They gave up 25 points or more 11 times, and gave up more than 300 total yards on defense in all but two of their regular season games.

Most of the names on the defense have changed, but one that remains is All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner. The linebacker was named an All-Pro for the fourth straight season, leading the NFL with 159 total tackles to go with seven tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks. There were some questions about Wagner’s performance in coverage however. According to PFF Wagner graded out with a 65.7 coverage grade, the second worst of his career.

Some other familiar names on the 2019 defense include current free agent Jadeveon Clowney, who recorded just 3.0 sacks in 13 games. Veteran linebacker K.J. Wright, who had a little bit of a down year, but cornerback Shaquill Griffin was named to his first Pro-Bowl.

Seattle’s biggest struggles on defense came in their tackling and their lack of any pass rush. According to PFF, Seattle’s defense had the fifth worst tackling grade in the league, and the third worst pass rush grade. The Seahwks did not have a single player on their defense record more than 4.5 sacks, Rasheem Green was the team leader with 4.0. Clowney and Ezekiel Ansah, guys who Seattle was counting on to provide a pass rush, recorded 6.5 sacks combined. Seattle’s 28 sacks were the second lowest total in the league in front of only the Miami Dolphins.

For all the struggles their pass rush had, the Seattle secondary actually played fairly well. When a team registers only 28 sacks on a season it puts tons of pressure on the secondary, but the group led by Griffin and Tre Flowers preformed well under the given circumstances. Their secondary can get even better if recently acquired cornerback Quinton Dunbar is able to play in 2020 after dealing with some legal issues.

The Seahawks offseason moves proved their biggest need was to address their lack of a pass rush. They went out and signed defensive lineman Bruce Irvin, who put up 8.5 sacks for the Panthers last season, and veteran Benson Mayowa, They also drafted pass rusher Darrell Taylor out of Tennessee with their second-round selection, and interestingly enough took a linebacker, Jordyn Brooks, out of Texas Tech with their first pick. Could they possibly be signaling the end is coming for K.J. Wright?

The additions of Irvin, Mayowa, and Taylor should help improve the Seattle pass rush, but by how much is the true question. This team won 12 games and went to the NFC Divisional Round with a pass rush that was virtually non-existent. If they could get even 10-12 more sacks as a defense, they could be a much more improved defense as a whole and have a real shot to be a Super Bowl contender in the NFC.

X-Factor

The X-Factor for this Seattle Seahawks team is wideout DK Metcalf. The rookie wideout had a great year in 2019, and can help the Seattle’ offense become even more dynamic if he increases his play in year two. Putting up 900 yards and seven touchdowns is no easy feat as a rookie wide receiver, but that is exactly what Metcalf did last year.

If Metcalf is able to up his game to another level, he and Russell Wilson could become one of the top five quarterback receiver combos in all of football. With a quarterback as talented as Wilson, he is already going to make his receivers better. Metcalf possesses the skill and athletic ability to become one of the most dominant receivers in all of football. If he takes that jump next season, the rest of the NFC better look out.

How they matchup with Dallas

The Seahawks and Cowboys will be an extremely interesting matchup in Week Three. Seattle has won four of their last five matchups with Dallas at CenturyLink Field, including the Cowboys most recent visit their in 2018. This Cowboys team is much different than the one that came to Seattle that September, and their offensive weapons could give the Seahawks’ defense real fits.

Even if their pass rush does improve, the Dallas’ offensive line should be able to have their way with the Seahawks d-line in this matchup. The availability of Quinton Dunbar could play a big role in this game, as the Cowboys now have three extremely talented receivers teams will have to account for.

On the defensive side of the ball, Dallas will likely have some trouble containing Russell Wilson as they usually do. DK Metcalf against whatever Dallas cornerback he matches up will be fun to watch, and the Cowboys ability to get pass rush in this game likely will be the deciding factor. They have not had much success in Seattle recently, but this is a game I believe Dallas will come out of with a victory, somewhere along the lines of 23-20.