Even as a Seahawks fan there was no way I thought this team would make the playoffs, yet here they are, ahead of Mat Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton who will all be watching from home. So too the Cowboys, and it really shows how much I know that I picked the Giants offence to take them to the NFC east title this year!
So here we are, 2 teams who have had somewhat mixed years are playing meaningful January football and one of them will progress to the divisional round to play either of the powerhouses from L.A. or New Orleans. But I get ahead of myself.
The Cowboys season was looking lost until 2 players completely changed the 2 sides of the game. A trade for Amari Cooper not only opened up the passing game from Dak Prescott, but in doing so meant opposing teams needed to cover the pass as well as the run, freeing up more room for Ezequiel Elliot. On D, Leighton Van Der Esch started to really come into his own, making the often injured Sean Lee a distant memory. The Cowboys strength may appear to be in defence – where they ranked 5th against the rush and 13th against the pass, but don’t sleep on a now lively offense.
The Seahawks are an enigma, in the past 4 weeks they scraped a narrow possibly undeserved win against the Vikings, and then lost to the 28th ranked 49ers playing a lot of the reserves who have looked decent covering for a very injured roster, then won somewhat convincingly vs the number 1 AFC team the Kansas City Chiefs, all leading up to a very narrow win vs the last placed Cardinals.
It’s impossible to know if this is a good 10-6 team or not. It could well be motivational, that they are more motivated when the game is expected to be tougher, in which case teams should be on notice this play off season. The Seahawks somewhat strangely gained exactly as many yards this season as they allowed, 5653 of each, though outscored opponents 428-347, the plus-15 turnover margin playing a huge role. The Running and offensive time of possession game, coupled with a ‘bend but don’t break’ D can lead to frustratingly close games – and narrow defeats, but they will always be thereabouts at the end.
The key match ups will be when Dallas have the ball, how will the excellent and under-rated Jarran Reed cope with Elliot, and Shaquill Griffin vs Amari Cooper, Griffin has had a good few weeks but has been known to be burned on longer routes vs the quicker receiver. With the Seahawks on offence it may come down to the fitness of guard DJ Fluker, as the Seattle O-line reminded us of 2017 vs the Cardinals blitz on Sunday night, with Wilson suffering 6 sacks and going 5 three and outs in a row.
Picture from Action Network