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Pregame Shuffle Week 13: Cowboys vs Seahawks

The next few weeks are going to be rather interesting for the Cowboys.

Dallas Cowboys v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

The Cowboys are winners of three straight and coming off a 45-10 drubbing of the divisional foe Commanders on Thanksgiving, extending their home winning streak to 13 straight games. The blowout win also solidified the Cowboys as the league leader in point differential this season at +162, with seven of their eight wins coming by at least three scores.

While this would normally elicit adulation and praise for a team being so dominant, the Cowboys instead get the criticism of “only beating bad teams.” It’s true that their wins this year have come against teams with a combined 24-55 record, and that Dallas is 0-2 against teams with a winning record. But that could all change this week.

That’s because the Cowboys’ schedule is about to get much harder. Next week, they host the Eagles, who still boast the best record in the league. That’s followed up with road trips to the Bills and Dolphins before playing their final home game of the year against the Lions. But before any of that, they have to tackle the Seattle Seahawks.

The Seahawks enter this game at 6-5, so a win over them will still not technically count as beating a team with a winning record. But Seattle is a significantly better team than Carolina or Washington. A year ago, they rode the career rejuvenation arc of Geno Smith - taking over for the traded Russell Wilson - to a 9-8 record that saw the Seahawks just barely sneak into the playoffs before getting blasted by the 49ers.

This year, Smith has continued to play well, though not quite as great as he did last year. After getting shocked by the Rams in a Week 1 loss, Seattle won their next three and looked really good as they jumped out to a 5-2 start. Stumbles from the 49ers also put them in pole position for the NFC West, offering up enough hope for the team to trade for standout interior defender Leonard Williams.

Since then, reality has set in. The Seahawks got absolutely dominated by the Ravens and then suffered a one-point loss in their rematch against the Rams. Then, on Thanksgiving night, they were thoroughly handled in their first game against the 49ers.

That’s where this team sits right now. They’ve lost three of their last four, and are on the verge of falling to .500 on the year. They’ve struggled on the road, with a 2-3 record away from home, and they’ve especially struggled against other good teams. The Seahawks are 1-4 in games where they’re the underdog this season, with their lone victory being an overtime shocker against the Lions.

That doesn’t bode well for them heading into this game. The Cowboys will play host, a setting they already thrive in, and are currently favored by eight points. For the year, Dallas is 7-1 when favored, with the lone upset coming to the Cardinals. They’ve generally dominated as the favorite and as the home team, while the Seahawks struggle on the road and as an underdog.

A lot of that has to do with this offense. A year ago, Smith and this offense powered the Seahawks to a handful of wins in high-scoring shootouts, but they’ve struggled to replicate that this year. Smith is completing just 65.4% of his passes with 12 touchdowns to eight interceptions. He also ranks 23rd in EPA/play and 20th in QBR. Unsurprisingly, that’s translated to the offense as a whole being ranked 18th in EPA/play and 19th in offense DVOA.

Defensively, the Seahawks haven’t seen many improvements from a year ago, when they gave up the eighth-most points per game. They’re giving up the 11th-most points per game right now and rank 20th in EPA/play allowed and 21st in defensive DVOA. They haven’t been as bad as they were a year ago, but the minimal growth on the defensive side of the ball hasn’t been nearly enough to offset the moderate regression on offense.

This is all good news for the Cowboys, who have all of the advantages on paper. Dak Prescott has been playing at such a high level lately, and this defense doesn’t offer much in the way of resistance against a Cowboys offense that has been unstoppable. And Smith’s ranking fifth in turnover worthy plays is certainly a recipe for disaster against the recently crowned pick-six king DaRon Bland.

This profiles as another big win for the Cowboys, and they catch the Seahawks at a good time. On paper, this is the best team Dallas has faced since the Eagles, and could be the best team they beat so far this year. Of course, the Cowboys won’t get crowned for a win this week no matter how convincing it is. The true tests come in December; this is more of an appetizer, but one the Cowboys can’t afford to mess up.

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