The Dallas Cowboys travel to the Pacific Northwest to take on one of the top teams in the NFL, the Seattle Seahawks. With offensive playmakers all around, most are expecting a shootout. It’s true, there should be a lot of points to be scored, but what will be the keys to success? Here are five things to keep an eye on when these two teams square off on Sunday.
1. Contain Carson
Everyone will be worried about what the Seahawks will do through the air, but the Cowboys have to be mindful of Seattle’s rushing attack. Pete Carroll does a good job keeping their runners fresh as they mix in a rotation of Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde, and second-year player Travis Homer. Last week, they all contributed to a Seattle team that rushed 30 times for 154 yards.
Their best running back is 2017 seventh-round gem Chris Carson as he had the bulk of the work with 17 carries. He’s a nifty runner that does a great job jump-cutting and finding the hole. Once he has it, he runs with good power. It’s not flashy, and it’s not explosive. It’s just effective. And if the Cowboys defense isn’t able to do a good job defending the run, don’t be surprised if the Seahawks offense rolls in a different way than you imagined.
Carson has also been a lot more involved in the passing game as well as he already has three receiving touchdowns this season
2. Mix it up on offense
We all know the Cowboys offense needs to show up in a big way if they are to pull out the win on Sunday. Mike McCarthy has already gone on record saying that he wants them to score as fast as they can and as many times as they can, which seems like a good strategy any time. But just what kind of offense can we expect? Kellen Moore will need to dial up some creative plays to get the most out of each possession. The Cowboys did a good job utilizing everyone last week against the Falcons, but things won’t be so easy this time around.
The Seahawks will show them a lot of different looks with playmakers like Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams roaming around, but their defense has several contributors. If the Cowboys show an inkling of predictability, don’t be surprised if Seattle takes some chances and jumps a route. Quinton Dunbar did this twice last week against the Patriots. The first one he came up short, but the second time he got it.
3. Beware of the deep shots
The Cowboys defense has gone from a “bend, but don’t break” philosophy to an “all or nothing” approach. This has made them more susceptible to big plays. We didn’t see it so much against the Rams, because they threw mostly short passes, but the Falcons took some shots, burning the Cowboys defense. Rest assured, Seattle will take some shots too.
Tyler Lockett had been known as the Seahawks big vertical threat, and he still is. It’s just now he has a partner on the other side in the form of second-year receiver D.K. Metcalf. In each of the first two games, Metcalf has a touchdown reception of 35+ yards, including a 54-yard catch on Sunday against the league’s top corner, Stephon Gilmore.
The Cowboys cornerback group is banged up, and this is going to be a huge area of concern for their defense. With both Chidobe Awuzie and Anthony Brown out, the team will rely on rookie Trevon Diggs, Jourdan Lewis, and Daryl Worley. Additional help may come from hybrid DB Brandon Carr or possibly even Deante Burton, who the team continues to protect on their practice squad. Any way you slice it, the corner group is vulnerable this week, and if Wilson has too much time in the pocket to operate, the defense could get lit up.
4. Red zone Russ
Not only is Russell Wilson good at throwing deep touchdowns, but he’s pretty good at the short ones too. So far this season, he’s thrown seven passes inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. He’s completed all seven of them with five going for touchdowns. Wilson is elusive which always makes him a threat to run. Dallas will need to employ a spy to keep him contained from doing damage with his legs, but to ask the corners to hang with their man even longer could be a daunting task.
Wilson does a great job of seeing the field and throwing on the run. Even when it looks like the defense has him contained, he will fire it and just like that, Seahawks players are celebrating.
5. Who’s worth a first?
The Cowboys made a midseason trade in 2018 to acquire wide receiver Amari Cooper. It cost them a first-round pick in 2018. He, along with Ezekiel Elliott and CeeDee Lamb, represent a crew of first-round offensive talent the team hopes lights up the score board this season.
This offseason, the Seahawks gave up two first-round picks to get Jamal Adams from the New York Jets. All he’s done so far is lead the team in tackles and sacks. Word on the street is that he’s pretty great.
He’s one of the best box safeties in the league, but his coverage skills will be tested. He has something to prove after losing several one-on-one battles last week that contributed to Julian Edelman having 179 yards receiving. Seattle has surrendered 831 yards through the air through the first two games, which is the most in the NFL. The Cowboys offense must take advantage.