In the week 1 home opener against the San Francisco 49ers, the Dallas Cowboys went down early and came up short with a comeback effort. Actually, they came up really short because that 28-17 loss made the game look closer than it was. The 49ers have been the class of not only the NFC, but the NFL with the talent and coaching they put together over time. A class that the Seattle Seahawks have been in, you know, the reigning Super Bowl champions. The coaching staff is right at the top. Sooner than later, other teams will continue to offer their coordinators head coaching positions.
Some things are plain and simple, like the fact that the Seahawks lost to the San Diego Chargers on the road. Also like the fact that, the Denver Broncos blew a second half lead against the Kansas City Chiefs and held on for the win. Those week 3 matchups were trap games. A team cannot overlook an opponent or let off the gas, as both of last year’s Super Bowl representatives did, with full knowledge that they were on a collision course for a rematch in week 4. That week woke up the Seahawks, and it should come as no surprise, the Chargers have played themselves back into the class of the AFC.
All that said to give you insight on the Seahawks only loss of the season, also revealing another elite team in the Broncos, as another example of overlooking an opponent. Not in week 6, nobody is skimming past the Cowboys on the schedule this season. The offensive line features three first round picks and DeMarco Murray leads the league in rushing. Murray has yet to total under triple-digit yardage, resulting in their 4-1 record. What should not go unnoticed, is Murray’s 5 fumbles with the 12th Man on deck.
As we watched in week 1, Dallas was simply not ready for the 49ers. A team with a questionable quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, and a banged up defense without Navarro Bowman and Aldon Smith. Nonetheless, you play with who is healthy, and the Niners handled them as the Seahawks will this Sunday. Russell Wilson is coming off another efficient performance, rushing for a sensational 122 yards. His lowest QB rating was 99.9, while finishing over the century mark in the other three games. His ball security combined with Marshawn Lynch viciously wearing down a defense, and Percy Harvin as the chess piece moving all over the field, the Dallas defense will be coming down to earth. The mess at linebacker, due to injuries, will get exposed.
Dez Bryant won’t stick to Richard Sherman’s side of the field, so he will certainly make an impact. Jason Witten has come to life as of late, but he hasn’t made the tough grabs and shed tackles like he used to. The future Hall of Fame tight end is still reliable, he just doesn’t have the skill set Antonio Gates has down the field, or Julius Thomas for that matter. He is that safety valve, but more of an H-back nowadays that can block well and gain some yards here and there. Tony Romo should not be given any benefit of the doubt against the NFL’s best defense, especially in their house.
It’s a big game, which means Dallas could start well but fade away. This is nothing necessarily against the Cowboys, but more so about the clarity of this game’s preview and the media love for an upset pick this weekend. What will be interesting to watch is the league’s best run defense going up against the best ground game. Sure, I’d like to watch Bryant line up on Romo’s strong side running routes against Herman, but don’t expect that to be a common occurrence. The weakside, or the left side, is where the Cowboys bread and butter plays have come. The chunk passing plays to Bryant and Terrence Williams, and the touchdowns. They should win the matchups against corners Byron Maxell and Marcus Burley in the slot.
With that said, Dallas has to show their commitment to the ground game when things aren’t going their way, such as previous seasons when they have given up on the run despite Murray’s production. They have exceeded expectations through the first handful of games on the defensive side of the ball, in part to a ball-control and clock-chewing offense, where Romo has been managing and taking advantage of play actions. I expect the Seahawks to flex their superiority for a double-digit NFC win. The best secondary in the league will allow them, if need be, to shift their defense a little bit and stack the box against Murray.
On the flipside, I don’t see the Boys being able to matchup against the Seattle line and Beast Mode. Or Wilson’s mobility, and after all, I am not quick to forget how historically bad the Big D defense was in 2013. Favorable schedule or not, I give America’s Team credit for bringing their A-game. There are no moral victories for competitive teams which they are, but this should not be a measure as to where they are contenders or pretenders in the NFC. They are built for this game offensively, but they keep turning the ball over and that defense hasn’t sold me just yet.
The betting line is 8.5 points in favor of the Hawks and deservedly so.