Dallas at Seattle: 5 Things We Need to Know
The Dallas Cowboys have won four straight games, for the first time in three years, putting them at a record of 4-1 this season -- which is their best record through five games since 2008 – when they also started the season 4-1. The Cowboys have finished 8-8 for three consecutive seasons. Currently, the team already has half the amount of that win total, and the season is not halfway completed. The Cowboys’ 2007 campaign was the last season the team started with a 5-1 record; that season saw Dallas finish with a 13-3 record.
The Cowboys’ toughest test yet this season lies ahead this Sunday, as they will play the 3-1 Seattle Seahawks, the defending Super Bowl champions, in Seattle at arguably the most difficult stadium to play in: CenturyLink Field.
The Seahawks are coming off a win against the Washington Redskins – a game in which the Seahawks looked way off their game but still found a way to win. Despite having a lowly pass offense, the Seahawks have done very well on offense as a whole. Moreover, the Seattle defense is just as good as last year’s version – maybe even better, considering the Seahawks currently have the best run defense in the NFL.
DeMarco Murray chasing sixth-straight 100 rushing yard game
Running back DeMarco Murray, the league’s leader in rushing yards, is the catalyst of the Cowboys’ success. Murray rushed for at least 100 yards in each of Dallas’ five games this season. It is going to be extremely difficult for Murray to make it six straight games. The Seahawks defense boasts an average of 62.3 rushing yards allowed per game this season, which is, by far, the best in the league. If Murray does not produce, it is highly likely the Cowboys will be defeated.
Seahawks lead NFL in rushing
The Cowboys have the league’s leading rusher. However, as a team, the Seahawks lead the league in rushing, with an average of 167 yards on the ground per game. Running back Marshawn Lynch and quarterback Russell Wilson account for the bulk of the team’s rushing yardage. The Cowboys defense ranks 20th in the league in rush defense, which causes concern for Dallas.
Dez Bryant versus Richard Sherman
Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant versus Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is the best matchup in the NFL this week. Sherman will not shadow Bryant the entire game, as Sherman stays on one side of the field. Nonetheless, when these two do lineup against each other, expect a physical, fun-to-watch battle. Bryant has scored a touchdown in four straight games. Thus far this season, Sherman hasn’t played up to his normal ability; he gave up a 60-yard pass and a touchdown last week against the Redskins. Bryant has the slight edge over Sherman.
Rolando McClain vital to Cowboys’ success
After being limited in practice on Friday, Cowboys middle linebacker Rolando McClain is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. McClain is one of the Cowboys best run defenders, and he does well in pass coverage. When McClain exited the game against the Houston Texans last week, the Texans were more efficient in the run game. If McClain is unable to go, the Cowboys’ chances of victory will diminish greatly.
Seahawks will put game in Russell Wilson’s hands
Last week against the Redskins, Wilson put together an outstanding performance, which carried the Seahawks to victory. It is well known that he can make plays with his arm and his feet. Outside of wideout Percy Harvin, the Seahawks do not have great receivers, which makes Wilson’s job much more strenuous. However, as we saw against the Redskins, if his receivers can’t make plays, Wilson will make them himself: He will take off and run with the ball, or he will extend the play until a receiver finally breaks open.
Both of the Cowboys’ streaks are coming to a halt: the team’s winning streak and Murray’s 100-yard rushing streak. The Seahawks defense will extremely limit Murray. On offense, the Seahawks running game will produce, and Wilson will continue to be a playmaker. Plus, the Seahawks are playing at home; you can’t bet against the Seahawks at home. Prediction: Seahawks 23-10.