Seattle @ Dallas NFC Wild Card preview


The Seattle Seahawks will travel to Big D to take on the Dallas Cowboys in a hotly anticipated NFC Wild Card clash.

The pair met in week three in Seattle with the Seahawks winning in convincing fashion 24-13. On that day Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott had little passing attack, finishing with 168 yards through the air as Seattle suffocated the disjointed offense.

Since then however, the Cowboys have traded for wide receiver Amari Cooper and their aerial assault has been a different beast. The addition of Cooper has also opened up the ground game for Ezekiel Elliott. Since entering their week eight bye at 3-4 Jason Garrett has led his side to a 10-6 record, the backbone of which was built on Elliott’s extraordinary production on the ground.

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has put together a fearsome unit spearheaded by defensive end DeMarcus ‘Tank’ Lawrence and linebacker duo Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. The Dallas defense ranks top ten in points allowed per game, total yards per game and rush yards per game while also being 13th against the pass – allowing 234.7 yards per game through the air.

Seattle made their run to the post season after a middling 3-3 start before their week seven bye. After that Pete Carroll’s men went 7-3, including big wins over the Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings,  to secure their playoff spot.

Seattle has undergone a transformation throughout the season from a team that has leaned heavily on the run to one which is centered around star signal caller Russell Wilson and the seventh year passer has not disappointed throwing 35 touchdowns and just seven picks in the regular season.

That is not to say they have abandoned the run game. Chris Carson has 247 carries for 1,151 yards and nine touchdowns in 14 games. During the week three meeting with Dallas, Carson had 32 rushing attempts for 102 yards. That may equate to a meager 3.2 yards per carry but the volume was on show.

Dallas will need to be aware of the big play threat of Tyler Lockett who has ten scores this campaign and, remarkably, Wilson finished the season with a perfect 158.3 passer rating when targeting the former third round pick.

While they are not as dependent on their defense, the Seahawks still boast a lot of talent on that side of the ball. Especially the front seven. Tackling machine Bobby Wagner is a staple while Frank Clark and Jarran Reed have combined for 23.5 sacks this season.

Both teams have drastically improved since their early season clash and Saturday evening’s postseason tussle figures to go down to the last possession with both teams having similarities to how they operate: tough defense, establishing the run and big plays downfield to their speedy receivers.

Dallas may fancy their chances at home as they finished the regular season with a 7-1 record in AT&T Stadium while Seattle have gone 4-4 on the road.



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