The Cowboys ended up the big winners after things went belly-up for Washington in Week 9. Dallas finished the regular season by winning seven of eight games, claiming the NFC East title for the third time in five years.
In that season-closing stretch, quarterback Dak Prescott completed 71 percent of his passes for 12 touchdowns and three interceptions. Wide receiver Amari Cooper, acquired midseason from Oakland for a first-round draft pick, has proved his worth with 54 catches and six scores.
Russell Wilson and Seattle played inconsistent football until hitting their stride in Week 11, rattling off four straight wins against Green Bay, Carolina, San Francisco and Minnesota, and averaging 30 points in that span. A Week 16 win against Kansas City, 38-31, has the Seahawks feeling good about their potential in the post-“Legion of Boom” era. Chris Carson has finally filled the void left by Marshawn Lynch as the primary ball carrier. Doug Baldwin, if he can stay healthy, is as reliable as ever in the passing game.
This is the first time Dallas will meet Seattle in the playoffs since the 2006 wild-card round, when the Seahawks escaped with a 21-20 win thanks to Tony Romo’s botched hold on a field goal attempt.
When: Saturday, 8:15 p.m. Eastern time.
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Tex.
How to watch on TV: Fox.
How to stream online: Fox Sports Go.
Odds: Cowboys -2.
What’s next: The winner will play in an NFC divisional game next weekend at either New Orleans or the Los Angeles Rams, depending on the outcome of the Bears-Eagles wild-card game.
While the Seahawks’ improvement along the offensive line has been a revelation for quarterback Russell Wilson, it is still a middling unit across the board. Germain Ifedi, in particular, has had issues with penalties (10 this season) and losing quickly in pass protection (six sacks allowed). In their Week 3 matchup, Lawrence notched a sack, a hit and three hurries on only 23 pass-rushing snaps. Seattle mostly protected Ifedi by running the ball and calling just 21 drop-back passes.
Cowboys’ fatal flaw:
It’s going to be hard to keep quarterback Dak Prescott upright. The Cowboys’ offensive line ranked 20th in pass blocking by the game charters at Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders had them as the fifth-worst pass-blocking unit after adjusting for strength of schedule (10 percent adjusted sack rate against). There has been just one Super Bowl champion in the past six years to rank worse than 22nd in adjusted sack rate and with four of the 10 best pass-rushing units in the NFC playoff hunt, including both the Rams (second best) and Saints (sixth best), each a potential second-round opponent for the Cowboys, Prescott figures to be harassed early and often.
Seahawks’ fatal flaw:
Seattle’s offensive line woes continue to plague them. The Seahawks managed to overcome that deficiency in 2013 when their offensive line allowed a league-worst adjusted sack rate of 9.6 percent, but this year not only is it even worse at 10.4 percent, there is no Legion of Boom to help them. And because of that, opponents are not forced into three-and-out situations all that often. In fact, the Seahawks forced opponents into a three-and-out less than a quarter of the time (24.7 percent), the lowest rate in the NFL in 2018 (it was 38 percent in 2013, the 10th highest in the league that year). Over the past 16 years, only the 2006 Colts have won a Super Bowl after a regular season in which they forced opponents to go three-and-out less than 30 percent of the time. — Neil Greenberg
The Seahawks play the Cowboys somewhere in Texas on Saturday. Here is what to see and how to watch the Wild Card matchup.
The Seahawks don’t just feel lucky to be in the playoffs. With a few plays that went a different way, Seattle could have won 12 games this season. Seattle is a good team. But are they good enough to beat the Cowboys on the road to start the playoffs?
Dallas is a lot like Seattle. The teams, not the cities. The Cowboys want to run the ball a lot and rely on a young defense to win games. So do the Seahawks. But Seattle has the better quarterback in Russell Wilson. Wilson has won a Super Bowl. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott has not.
Sure, Dallas does have home-field advantage for the Wild Card game. But did you know that historically speaking, home teams have won only about 60 percent of the time in Wild Card games. Seattle winning on Saturday is not out of the question simply because they have to travel to Dallas.
Plus, Wilson normally either keeps his team in important games or brings them back to make it close. Most likely, Saturday will be a close game and not easy for those with weak hearts. Or even those with strong ones.
Where, when and how to watch the Seahawks and Cowboys Wild Card game
When: Saturday, January 5th at 5:15 pm PT
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
All-time Matchup: Seahawks trail 8-10
Favorite: Cowboys -1.5
How to watch
TV: FOX (Q13 in Seattle)