You know that Ezekiel Elliott is returning this week. Question is, will the Seahawks be able to return to form after losing 42-7 to the Rams last Sunday. Now Pete Carroll’s team faces a game against the Cowboys that truly is a must-win if it hopes to make the playoffs for the sixth straight year.
The Cowboys are favored by five points and it’s easy to see why – they’re at home, they’ve won three in a row, Elliott’s back, and the Seahawks are coming off a terrible, non-competitive performance. You can make a strong case for a comfortable Dallas win with Elliott running for 150 yards after the Seahawks allowed the Rams to rush for 242 yards.
Even though Elliott missed six games because of an NFL suspension, he has still rushed for 783 yards, nearly 600 yards more than the Seahawks’ leading active running back, Mike Davis. Elliott still has a good shot at a 1,000-yard season in only 10 games if he averages 109 yards in the next two games.
More signs point to a Dallas win than a Seattle win, but I like the Seahawks because of a human-nature factor that Dave Wyman pointed out this week. It’s pride, and I’m guessing that will help lead the Seahawks to a surprising win on Sunday.
Sometimes when you get blown out like the Seahawks were against the Rams, you chalk it up to the other team being that much better than you are. This might be the case in the future, but it’s not the case now. Just two months ago the Seahawks beat the Rams 16-10 in Los Angeles. We know what changed – Seattle’s defense with injuries that sidelined Kam Chancellor, Cliff Avril, Richard Sherman and K.J. Wright, and a hamstring strain that left Bobby Wagner playing at much less than full speed. I think Wagner will try to play again this week, and I’m assuming he’ll be a little better than he was against the Rams. I’m also assuming the defense will play better with the replacement players getting more reps in practice and understanding their responsibilities more than they did in the Rams game.
But more than that, it’s the human element that will carry the Seahawks this week. They were knocked down in a big way, and when you’re champions like they’ve been, you respond with everything you have. I highly doubt that we’ll see back-to-back pummelings with the Seahawks on the canvas again, being counted out. They’ll go toe-to-toe with the Cowboys, throwing punches ’til the very end.
I don’t think the Seahawks are as good as they were when they beat the 12-2 Eagles two weeks ago, nor are they as bad as they were against the Rams. They’re something in between, and that’s good enough to beat the 8-6 Cowboys.
Pride comes into play because the Seahawks will want to atone for such an embarrassing loss. That wasn’t them, and they’ll want to prove it for all to see. Plus they’ve probably heard the talk this week about the best era in Seahawks’ history coming to an end. If I’m them, I’m thinking: “Is that right? We’ll see about that.”
So what you have is a team that will want to show its pride and prove people wrong at the same time, a double dose of motivation. I’ve doubted the Seahawks a lot this year, but not this week. A proud team will keep its playoff hopes alive with a decisive win over the Cowboys.
Seahawks (+5) at Cowboys: Seattle 27, Dallas 17.