The Dallas Cowboys have shocked most prognosticators by opening the 2014 NFL season with a 4-1 record, only losing in the opening week to the San Francisco 49ers. Their toughest test now comes in week six against the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. While the Seahawks were nearly unbeatable in 2013, this year’s team shows some vulnerability. Here is a look at the Seahawks heading into the big matchup.
The DefenseREAD MORE: North Texas Hospitals In 'Wait And See' Mode Regarding COVID-19 Omicron Variant
There can be no discussion about the Seattle Seahawks without talking about their defense, the main reason they are now one of the elite teams in the NFL. Before their week five Monday Night Football game with the Washington Redskins, the Seahawks rushing defense remained one of the best in the NFL, ranked second. However, their pass defense has struggled at times, ranked 19th.
The rush defense is why Seattle has to enter the game with Dallas favored to win. The Cowboys have won this season thanks to the rushing of DeMarco Murray, who not only leads the NFL with 670 yards, but is also 210 yards higher than the second best rusher in the NFL. The Seahawks held Eddie Lacy to 34 yards, Ryan Mathews to 31 yards and Monte Ball to 38. They have only allowed one rushing touchdown this season. However, DeMarco Murray is better than all three of those players and Seattle will face their toughest test in this game.
If the Seahawks do contain Murray, they still have to stop Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. Philip Rivers threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns while Peyton Manning threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns against Seattle this season. Tony Romo will hope to have similar luck against a Seahawks team that seems vulnerable to the pass.
The Seahawks rank a low 25th in the NFL in passing offense, a huge turnaround from their 2013 season where they were lighting up the scoreboards. Through three games, Russell Wilson has only thrown for 651 yards on 60 completions, but has an impressive six touchdowns and only one interception. He is playing great this season, but isn’t being asked to do much. Against the opportunistic Dallas defense, Seattle might continue to keep Wilson on a short leash.READ MORE: Cowboys Prepare For Thursday Night Game Missing 9 Players And Coaches Due To COVID-19
That means that Marshawn Lynch should hog the ball throughout the game, and with good reason. Lynch has run for 234 yards in three games with three touchdowns on the ground and two more through the air. He has been the main source of offense for Seattle, and that does not bode well for Dallas. In week five, Dallas gave up 157 rushing yards to Arian Foster on the ground and he scored two touchdowns, almost single-handedly beating Dallas. It was thanks to their inability to stop Foster that Dallas had to win in overtime. Marshawn Lynch is the key to Seattle winning this game.
The 12th Man
The biggest problem facing Dallas on Sunday is the 12th Man, the nickname given to the Seattle Seahawks faithful. Seattle respects the legendary 12th man so much, that the team actually retired the jersey number 12 in honor of the fans. Seattle’s only loss this season was on the road, while winning both of their games when playing at home. In 2013, they were 7-1 at home. This is not going to be an easy game for Dallas and playing in Seattle might make it impossible to win.
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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.