By Bailey Montgomery
Wild Card Preview
#5 Seattle Seahawks AT #4 Dallas Cowboys
Here we are. Wild card weekend, and this team has earned an opportunity to host a playoff game at home in Arlington. These Dallas Cowboys finished off a 10 win regular season with a thrilling win at New York last Sunday, where Dak Prescott found Cole Beasley in the back of the end zone on a fourth down play late in the fourth quarter. This win featured Dak Prescott with one of the best showings of his career, as he found Blake Jarwin for three touchdowns. The Cowboys sat down Zeke Elliott, who should be fresh and ready for a huge workload on Saturday night.
Our Cowboys play host to a scary Seattle Seahawks club that is a physical, tough team on both sides of the football. When you talk about the Seattle Seahawks, the first person you think about is Russell Wilson. Russell Wilson has had an unbelievable year for the Seahawks, where he boasts a 110.9 passer rating to go with a 35 to 7 touchdown to interception ratio. He takes care of the football, he’s accurate, elusive, and most importantly, he’s a winner. This guy knows how to win, and this team trusts him at the helm of the offense.
This Seattle offense is a run first offense, featuring Chris Carson at the running back position. Carson has ran for over 1100 yards in his 2018 campaign, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Mike Davis and Rashaad Penny have also chipped in nicely for this running game, as the two backups combine for 933 yards on 197 carries, good for a 4.7 average.
Pete Carroll’s group will look to control the trenches, which will be the battle to watch on Saturday night, as this Dallas pass rush tries to get pressure on Wilson and control this running game. According to ProFootballFocus, the Seahawks offensive line has been the most efficient pass blocking group since Week 3. Since Week 3, this offensive line has allowed only 13 pressures, 7 of which were sacks. Demarcus Lawrence and company will look to flip this script, and I think finding a way to get pressure on Russell Wilson will be a huge key for this defense.
Playmakers around Wilson have allowed him to have a great year, as Tyler Lockett has emerged as his clear top target among the receiving core. Lockett is a big play threat, averaging nearly 17 yards per reception. Lockett has brought in 57 receptions for 965 yards and 10 touchdowns. Alongside Lockett is veteran Doug Baldwin, who has brought in 50 receptions for 618 yards and 5 touchdowns. While this offense doesn’t feature an “elite” wide receiver, they possess quality pass catchers with big play ability.
On the defensive side of the ball for the Cowboys, we look for a bounce back week after giving up 35 points to a 5 win Giants squad. While Demarcus Lawrence and Leighton Vander Esch’s snaps were limited in this game, and Rob Marinelli’s squad was without Tyrone Crawford, this is still a concern going into this playoff matchup. I think this group will bounce back, but the key will be slowing down the run game and finding a way to get to Russell Wilson. I think Randy Gregory, Demarcus Lawrence, and this defensive front will find a way to get to Wilson. This defense plays harder, plays faster, and plays with more intensity than anybody else in the league, and I think that relentlessness will allow this group up front to get to Russell Wilson enough times to not allow him to get comfortable in the pocket.
On offense, Ezekiel Elliott should be ready for a large workload here on Saturday night. Jason Garrett decided to sit Elliott in a meaningless Week 17 game, as Rod Smith and Darius Jackson took over his duties. This offense seemed to gain some momentum this past week, but nobody is more important to this offense than Zeke. Zeke will look to continue to build on a great season, where he was crowned with the Rushing Title for the second time in 3 years. Back in Week 3, Zeke averaged over 7 yards per carry against this Seahawks group in Seattle, but was unable to find the end zone in a 24 to 13 loss. I expect a 25+ touch night from Zeke, and I think getting him involved effectively early and often will be the key for this offense.
I truly think this game will come down to Dak’s ability or inability to make some big throws. Dak had an incredible week last week in the Meadowlands, completing 27 passes for 387 yards and 4 touchdowns, good for an 89.9 QBR and a 120.2 passer rating. Dak will look to build on this performance on the big stage, where he had a rough Week 3 against this defense. The addition of Amari Cooper and the emergence of Michael Gallup and Blake Jarwin has helped this offense down the stretch, and I think they will find a way to make some plays against this tough Seattle defense.
Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 24, Seattle Seahawks 23
I think Dak will find a way to have a great game under the lights. It seems like when the stage is the biggest, Dak finds a way to shine and come through. I think he has an efficient game for this offense, throwing for over 250 yards and a couple scores. I think that Ezekiel Elliott will be fired up and ready to go in this contest, and I think he will power this offense to a close victory. This defense will bend, but I do not think they will break against this offense. This has been Rod Marinelli’s philosophy since joining the Cowboys’ coaching staff, and I think they will do just that, holding this tough Seattle offense to field goals on just enough drives to find a way to get a win. I think this Dallas team will escape a tough one at AT&T Stadium on Saturday night, and dance into Round 2 with a 24 to 23 victory.
The writers here at Cowboys News plan to bring you entertainment, news, and more - all relating to the Dallas Cowboys.