The Seattle Seahawks (0-2) and Dallas Cowboys (1-1) will meet on Sunday afternoon in Seattle in a battle of two offenses that are looking to find their identity.
It was a long night for Seattle at Soldier Field in Chicago on Monday as the Seahawks couldn’t get out of their way offensively for the first three quarters in a 24-17 loss to the Bears. Chicago sacked quarterback Russell Wilson six times and just dominated the line of scrimmage from start to finish. Defensively, the Seahawks battled as they were without Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. The Bears were limited to 17 points and 271 yards of total offense which should have resulted in a win for Seattle considering the circumstances. However, it was not meant to be as Russell Wilson was picked off by Prince Amukamara who, took it back for a pick-6 which extended Chicago’s lead to 24-10 in the fourth quarter. That was only the second time in Wilson’s career that he has thrown an interception that was run back for a touchdown.
Dallas bounced back from a tough week one loss at Carolina by defeating the New York Giants 20-13. Dak Prescott completed 16-of-25 passes for 160 yards and one touchdown. Ezekiel Elliott was solid in the running game as Elliott rushed for 79 yards on 17 carries. The Cowboys defense did an outstanding job of shutting down the running game against New York and standout rookie Saquon Barkley. Dallas limited the Giants to just 35 yards on the ground and forced Eli Manning to beat them throwing the ball which paid off.
The Cowboys have won 10 of the 18 meetings all-time against the Seahawks, but Seattle won the last meeting, beating Dallas 21-12 last Christmas Eve in Arlington.
Dallas at Seattle
Kickoff: Sunday, Sept. 23 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Spread: Seahawks -3
Three Things to Watch
1. Seahawks' play-calling approach
Head coach Pete Carroll took some responsibility for the lack of staying with the running game last Monday night as there was a stretch where Seattle threw the ball on three straight downs during each of the first two possessions of the third quarter. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was brought in during the offseason to elevate the running game and push Russell Wilson to get better. So far, the results are underwhelming at best for Schottenheimer as the offensive line has allowed 12 sacks and there is a lack of dangerous playmakers in the passing game. There are a couple of ways to try and fix this if you’re are the Seahawks. First, they need to pay more than lip service about their commitment to running the football. Second, Wilson needs to get rid of the ball quickly, and if it means short, quick passes to limit the vulnerable offensive line, then so be it. Third, Carroll needs to let his offensive coaches do their jobs and not meddle unnecessarily.
2. Dallas' offense vs. Seahawks' defense
Patience will be a virtue for Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan as they can afford to play the field position game early on while they feel out the Seattle defense. There is not going to be much of a need for Prescott to have to win the game throwing the football if the offensive line can control the line of scrimmage and let Elliott get his touches on the ground. One of the big reasons why Dallas lost to the Seahawks last Christmas Eve was Prescott’s inability to take care of the football. Prescott completed 21-of-34 passes for 181 yards with two interceptions, which was the difference in the game. Look for Prescott to target wide receiver Tavon Austin early in this game to try and strike for a big play to loosen up the Seattle defense so they don’t key as much on the run. Shaquill Griffin and Bradley McDougald are going to be critical players for the Seahawks in this game as they will be looking to cause a couple of turnovers to set up great field position for the offense.
3. Earl Thomas
Thomas was caught on video after last year’s game in Dallas running towards the Cowboys locker room where he told head coach Jason Garrett. “If y’all have the chance come get me.” This episode has set off rampant speculation that Seattle was going to trade Thomas to Dallas in the offseason. It also set off a series of events with Thomas that led to him holding out of training camp and using the give-me-a-contract-extension-or-trade-me card. It is going to be interesting to see where Thomas is at mentally on Sunday. If Thomas is truly trying to get himself traded to the Cowboys, it would be in his best interest to have a big-time performance to help the Seahawks have a chance to win. It also would enhance his trade value simply by playing at a high level and staying healthy all year long.
Seattle has done well in home openers in recent years, winning nine straight. The fans should be locked and loaded to bring plenty of crowd noise in the early going of this matchup. Whichever team can get off to a fast start should be in great position to win this game on Sunday. A fast start for Dallas will allow them to take the 12s out of the game, while a fast start for the Seahawks should only give them some needed confidence. This game should be a tight down to the wire type of contest with turnovers being the difference maker. Seattle should squeak a nail biter as they will force one key turnover by the Cowboys offense to get their first win of the season.
Prediction: Seahawks 20, Cowboys 17
— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @ScottWhittum.