Seattle Seahawks vs. Dallas Cowboys

In this Wild Card Weekend NFC playoff battle, the fifth-seeded NFC West runner-up Seattle Seahawks travel southeast to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX to take on the fourth-seeded hometown hosts and NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys, all happening on Saturday, January 5 at 7:15 pm, broadcasted on FOX.

The 10-6 Seattle Seahawks:

The Seahawks defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 38-37 in Week 16 to clinch a playoff berth and in Week 17, they beat the Arizona Cardinals 27-24 at home to bring their record to 10-6, second best in the NFC West to the 13-3 Los Angeles Rams.

It’s been an odd season statistically for their seven-year veteran quarterback Russell Wilson, since he only threw for 3,448 yards, his lowest total in five seasons, but his 35 passing touchdowns are the most he’s ever thrown and his 7 interceptions are tied for the least he’s ever had.

Seattle has a split record on the road, 4-4, but they’re 8-4 against NFC opponents and the underdogs in this one by just under a field goal.

The 10-6 Dallas Cowboys:

After defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-20 in Week 16, the Dallas Cowboys clinched the NFC East division title, which meant that pro-Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliot could sit out Week 17 and get rest, yet still the Cowboys got a narrow win over the New York Giants 36-35.

 Cowboys third-year quarterback Dak Prescott has had a statistically middle of the road season, ranked 5th among quarterbacks after throwing for 3,885 yards and 22 touchdowns with 8 interceptions.

Dallas has been mostly unstoppable at AT&T Stadium, their home record 7-1, and they’ve done well against conference rivals, going 9-3, so they’ll be tough to beat with a well-rested Elliot in front a loud, friendly crowd.

What’s at stake:

These two teams have met 19 times (including 1 postseason game), with Dallas winning 10 games and Seattle winning 9 games. The Seahawks have won 17 of the last 20 meetings, their last one this season in Week 14, the score was Seattle 24, Dallas 21.

Whoever wins this matchup will go on to the Divisional Round of the playoffs next.

They’ll either play the number one seeded NFC team, the 13-3 New Orleans Saints, or the number two seed, the 13-3 Los Angeles Rams, but right now those games are listed as TBD (to be determined).

And of course, whichever team loses this one goes home, their 2018 season finally over.

Questions to answer…

Who’s favored to win this Wild Card Weekend Seahawks-Cowboys matchup?

Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?

Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?

We’re going to compare the Seahawks and the Cowboys and attempt to answer those questions and more.

The 2018 Seahawks offense ranked 18th in the NFL

Seattle’s offense can score, averaging 26.8 points per game this season (T-6th best), moving the ball 353 total yards per game.

Wilson’s passing attack is ranked near the bottom of the league at 27th, responsible for less than 200 yards per game (193.3). 

Wide receiver Tyler Lockett has been the most targeted Seahawk by Wilson, catching 57 balls for 965 yards and 10 touchdowns, including a 52-yard touchdown reception in Week 13 against the San Francisco 49ers.

Seahawks’ rushing attack ranked first overall

Seattle has Chris Carson, the running back with the fifth most rushing yards in the NFL this season with 1,151 and 9 touchdowns.

Also out of the Seahawks’ backfield is dual threat back Mike Davis, who had 146 touches during the regular season for 728 total yards from scrimmage and 5 touchdowns.

Seattle offensive Injuries

Listed as questionable for Wild Card Weekend: tackle Duane Brown (knee), running back Mike Davis (foot), fullback Tre Madden (hamstring), wide receiver Doug Baldwin (knee) and guard J.R. Sweezy (foot).

The 2018 Cowboys offense ranked 22nd overall

Dallas is ranked in the bottom third of the league when it comes to scoring, averaging just 21.2 points per game (22nd most), and they were able to move the ball a total of 343 yards per game.

This regular season, third-year quarterback Dak Prescott threw for a career-high 3,885 yards and 22 touchdowns with 8 interceptions, the same number of touchdowns as last season but with five fewer picks.

Wide receiver Amari Cooper was acquired before Week 9, and he scored a total of six touchdowns on 40 receptions in the first six games he played, though in the last three games his production has slowed with just 13 receptions and no touchdowns.

Dallas’s run game 10th in the league

As mentioned above, running back Ezekiel Elliot is rested after sitting out Week 17, and he’s ready to add to his regular season numbers, including his league leading 1,434 yards rushing with 6 touchdowns.

Zeke is a dual-threat with soft hands who’s caught 77 balls from Prescott for another 567 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Dallas offensive Injuries

Listed as questionable for Wild Card Weekend: wide receiver Tavon Austin (groin), guard Zack Martin (knee), tackle Tryron Smith (neck) and guard Xavier Su’a-Filo (ankle).

Tight end Geoff Swaim (wrist), who is on injured reserve, will have his cast removed on Thursday, but there is no indication yet that he’ll be cleared to play.

Seahawks Defense ranks 16th in the league

The Seahawks allow their opponents to score 21.7 points per game and gain 353 total yards of offense, their rush defense ranked 13th and their passing defense ranked 17th.

Seattle’s 12 team interceptions during the regular season are tied for the 18th most and their 43 sacks rank 11th in the NFL.

Seahawks Defensive Players to watch:

Seattle’s ‘Mike’ linebacker Bobby Wagner is a tackler worth watching, with 138 this season along with a sack, 12 passes defended and an interception that he ran back 98 yards for a touchdown in Week 13 against the 49ers.

Defensive end Frank Clark likes to sack quarterbacks, in fact he did that 14.0 times in the regular season, the sixth most in the NFL.

Keep your eyes on the Seahawks’ two safeties, Bradley McDougald and Earl Thomas, who have three interceptions apiece.

Seahawks defensive injuries

Listed as questionable for Wild Card Weekend: strong safety Bradley McDougald (knee) and cornerback Shaquill Griffin (ankle).

Defensive back Delano Hill (hip) and cornerback DeShawn Shead (knee) were placed on injured reserve, their seasons ended.

Cowboys Defense is 7th overall

The Dallas defense is stingy when it comes to giving up points, allowing opponents just 20.2 per game, the sixth fewest overall, while giving up 329 yards each game, their rush defense ranked 5th and their pass defense ranked 13th.

The Cowboys had just 9 total interceptions in the regular season (T-26th most) and had 39 team sacks (T-16th).  

Cowboys Defensive Players to watch:

You can’t miss Leighton Vander Esch, just look for the Dallas outside linebacker with the noticeable high-collared neck brace who’s made 140 tackles so far this season.

Another linebacker worth looking out for, Jaylon Smith, has 121 tackles this season.

When the Dallas defense is on the field, count on defensive end Demarcus Lawrence to be wreaking havoc, so far with 10.5 sacks, 64 tackles and a couple of forced fumbles with a fumble recovery.

Cowboys Defensive Injuries

Listed as questionable for Wild Card Weekend: outside linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring), defensive tackles Tyrone Crawford (neck) and David Irving (ankle).

Special Teams Stats Comparison

Punters:

Seattle’s rookie punter, Michael Dickson, was drafted in the fifth round and so far, he’s punted 78 times for a net average of 42.5 yards per punt, ranked 6th in the league.

Dallas’s punter, Chris Jones, has been in the league and with the Cowboys since 2011, and he’s punted 60 times for a net average of 39.6 yards per punt, ranked 19th in the league.

Placekickers:

Seattle’s veteran placekicker, Sebastian Janikowski, is in his nineteenth NFL season, eighteen of which were with the Oakland Raiders.

So far this season, Janikowksi is 22-for-27, his longest was a 56-yarder. He’s missed three extra point attempts (48/51).

Dallas’s placekicker, Brett Maher, got hired after the surprising release of veteran Dan Bailey and so far is 29-for-36, his longest a 62-yarder in Week 14 against the Philadelphia Eagles, the longest field goal in Cowboys’ history.

Maher has missed one extra point attempt (32/33).

Punt Returners:

Seattle’s punt returner, wide receiver Tyler Lockett, is currently ranked 56th in the league in return average.

Lockett has returned 25 punts for 143 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 5.7 yards per return, his longest for 19 yards.

Dallas’s punt returner, wide receiver Cole Beasley, is ranked 57th in the league in return average.

Beasley has returned 11 punts for 61 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 5.5 yards per return, his longest for 14 yards.

Seahawks–Cowboys prediction and odds

The odds makers have the Cowboys favored over the Seahawks by 1.0 with an over/under of 43.0.

CBSSports.com has two final score predictions:

Ryan Wilson goes with the over and has it Seahawks 24, Cowboys 21

John Breech takes the even and predicts it Seahawks 23, Cowboys 20

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