Clayton: With Seahawks and Cowboys injured on defense, expect a shootout
For two weeks, the Seahawks and Pete Carroll have let Russell Wilson cook.
On Sunday, Wilson will be a world-class chief and he’ll need to serve a three-hour meal. The Seahawks host the Dallas Cowboys in what expected to be a high-scoring shootout. It’s Wilson going against Dak Prescott.
Oddsmakers list this game with an over-under at 55-and-a-half points. That’s the most of any game in Week 3. Even at those odds, you’d have to think about going with the over. Both teams are challenged on defense.
Even though both teams emphasized improving their pass rushes, the numbers haven’t shown much improvement for both teams. The Cowboys have two sacks. The Seahawks have three, two by blitzing safety Jamal Adams. The Seahawks rank last in yards allowed, giving up 415.5 yards a game. The Cowboys are 24th, giving up an average of 401 yards in their first two games.
One thing became evident: The Seahawks and Cowboys have learned how tough it is to rebuild a pass rush in a year in which there is no offseason program and no preseason games.
The Seahawks tried to add speed to get more of a pass rush. They signed defensive end Benson Mayowa and linebacker/defensive end Bruce Irvin. They drafted Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson. Irvin is out for the year with a torn ACL. Taylor is on the non-football injury list. Making matters worse, Mayowa is questionable with a groin injury and Rasheem Green went on injured reserve Friday with a neck injury.
Fifth-round choice Alton Robinson will go from the inactive list to potentially getting a lot of playing time. Rookie outside linebacker Jordan Brooks may also have to help at the Leo position. He had a few plays at that spot last week.
The Cowboys were the most aggressive teams in adding to the defensive line, but in two games, the pass rush hasn’t been there. Jerry Jones gave defensive tackle Dontari Poe a two-year deal at $10.5 million. He gave defensive end Everson Griffin a one-year, $6 million contract. After being out of football for five years, defensive end Aldon Smith got $2 million on a one-year deal. They handed defensive tackle Gerald McCoy a three-year, $18.3 million deal but he was cut after he suffered a season-ending quad injury.
For what it’s worth, the Seahawks have about eight pressures a game compared to the Cowboys six a game.
As scary as this game is game is against the Seahawks defense, the Cowboys have more problems than the Seahawks. Injuries have devastated the Cowboys. Linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee are on injured reserve. They will be without their top two cornerbacks – Anthony Brown and Chidobe Awuzie. The Cowbys may have to replace them with Jourdan Lewis and second-round choice Trevon Diggs, but Diggs has been bothered by a leg injury this week. Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is questionable with a knee injury.
Another problem is the defensive line has had to adjust to a new defensive scheme that defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is mixing, with the 3-4 for the 4-3. It’s time for Griffin and Lawrence to adjust. They have been used to putting their hand on the ground and rushing from a three-point stance.
So why are the Seahawks favored by four-and-a-half points? Simple. Wilson has a better chance to outscore the Prescott. The Cowboys have only had the lead in nine minutes and 39 seconds in the first 120 minutes of the season. Wilson has had double-digit leads in his first two wins.
Plus a great as the Cowboys were in their 40-39 comeback win over Atlanta, they were behind, 29-10. They lost the opener to the Los Angeles Rams, 27-17.
Nevertheless, take the over in his game.
- Tune in to 710 ESPN Seattle on Saturday mornings for The John Clayton Show.