Moore: Don’t expect a repeat of Seahawks’ Week 3 win over Cowboys
Don’t even think about Sunday’s game against Arizona. Yes, the Seahawks nearly lost to the worst team in the NFL at home. I chalk that one up to Human Nature. The Seahawks really didn’t need to win that game – they were going to the playoffs regardless, and you can debate whether it’s better for them to play at Chicago or Dallas, but it couldn’t have been that much of a difference for it to be a motivating factor against the Cardinals.
As it turned out, they could have lost 100-0 to Arizona and still played the Cowboys this Saturday in the wild-card round because the Vikings lost to the Bears on Sunday, assuring the Seahawks of the No. 5 seed and a trip to Dallas.
Whatever we saw on Sunday won’t carry over this week. They’re not going to have two punts blocked, nor will Russell Wilson be sacked six times with the return of starting guards J.R. Sweezy and D.J. Fluker.
And just because the Seahawks beat the Cowboys 24-13 in the third week of the season doesn’t mean we’ll see the same type of 11-point win this time around. The Cowboys are a different team now. They’ve gone from 3-5 to 10-6 and acquired Amari Cooper from the Raiders after they played the Seahawks, giving Dak Prescott another target in the passing game. Plus the Cowboys are a much better team at home, losing only to Tennessee this year.
But you’ve seen them all year – the Seahawks are a different team now than they were in late September. That was the game when they committed to the run like they said they were going to do in the offseason, only to throw it more than they ran it in two losses at Denver and Chicago to start the season. It’s paid off with Seattle leading the league in rushing while going 10-4 the rest of the way.
As much as I feel like the Seahawks could win this game and the next two to make an improbable appearance in the Super Bowl, it could end abruptly in Dallas. Oddsmakers think it will, making the Cowboys 2 1/2-point favorites. It’s not hard to envision a Dallas victory led by Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Cooper and a decent-enough defense featuring rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch from Boise State and Demarcus Lawrence (10.5 sacks).
But I think it’s also easy to picture a Seattle victory led by Russell Wilson, Chris Carson and Frank Clark. We’ve seen Wilson lead the Seahawks to 27 victories in the fourth quarter, the latest being the 27-24 win over Arizona on Sunday. And as much as I want to think Carson will run for more than 100 yards like he did in his first game against the Cowboys, it’s not likely. Dallas allowed an average of 70 rushing yards to opponents in home games this season.
Another concern is a guy I’d never heard of until Sunday. Second-year tight end Blake Jarwin had seven receptions for 119 yards and three touchdowns in a 36-35 win over the Giants. Jarwin could prove to be a nice complementary weapon to Cooper in the Cowboys’ passing game.
Seattle might have the biggest edge with a pass rush led by Clark and Jarran Reed, who combined for 24.5 sacks this year. They’re facing a Dallas offensive line that allowed Prescott to be sacked 56 times. Only Deshaun Watson was sacked more frequently. The Houston QB went down 61 times.
Believe it or not, the Seahawks might also have an edge at kicker. The much-maligned Sebastian Janikowski has hit 81.5 percent of his field goals this year while Brett Maher is at 80 percent for the Cowboys after missing a 34-yarder against the Giants on Sunday.
I’m looking forward to another installment in the Seahawks-Cowboys series. The last time these two teams met in the wild-card round, the Seahawks won 21-20 after Tony Romo dropped the snap, leading to a botched 19-yard field-goal attempt in 2006 in Seattle. Romo took the ball and tried to score but was stopped short by Jordan “Big Play Babs” Babineaux.
Last year after the Seahawks won at Dallas, the most memorable development happened after the game when Earl Thomas went into the Cowboys locker room and pleaded with coach Jason Garrett to “come get” him. Then in the game earlier this year, Thomas had two interceptions before breaking his leg the next week in Arizona and flipping off Seahawks GM John Schneider as he was carted off the field.
The only thing you can guarantee about the matchup this time around is that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will be shown on our flat screens at least 18 times Saturday night. And I’m guessing on the 18th time we’ll see him leaving his suite in disgust.
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