Matchup: Dallas Cowboys vs. Seattle Seahawks
Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)
After a disappointing first week, the Seahawks return home to face the Dallas Cowboys in our 2012 home opener. The main storyline surrounding this game is this is the first time the Cowboys have played in Seattle since the 2006 playoffs. In that wild-card playoff game with a 21-20 lead, the Cowboys were in position to take the lead on a late-game field goal. Instead Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo fumbled the hold and was tackled short of the goal line. The Seahawks held on to win and advanced to the divisional playoffs against Chicago.
Even though the Seahawks last played the Cowboys at home in that playoff game, we have played the Cowboys three times since then; all on the road. The Seahawks went 0-3 in those three matchups since, including a 23-13 loss in Dallas last season. The Cowboys lead the all-time series against the Seahawks 9-5. Here is what I will be looking for in this week’s home opener.
This week John Moffitt starts in place of J.R. Sweezy at right guard. I think this gives us our best possible offensive line. Last week our offensive line was unable to consistently give Russell Wilson enough time to make solid throws and other decisions. We need to solidify an offensive line that will not shuffle week in and week out. If we can do this and rebuild continuity along the line, I believe we will see significant improvement. One question mark this week is left tackle Russell Okung who suffered a bone bruise in his knee last week. Coach Carroll expects Okung to play this week. If Okung cannot go, Coach Carroll said Frank Omiyale is ready to step in to replace him. I am very worried about the offensive line if Okung does not play. I originally thought Omiyale was going to be cut after training camp. I do not think he is the best option at the position. I would suggest sliding Paul McQuistan to left tackle and starting Lemuel Jeanpierre at left guard. I am not concerned about the running game no matter who starts along the line, but if the starters are not healthy, expect Russell Wilson to be flushed out of the pocket on a consistent basis, much like he was last week in Arizona.
The biggest thing to look for this week on defense is the interior pass rush. Cowboys starting center Phil Costa is presumed out this week with a strained back. Backup Ryan Cook will most likely start this week at center for Dallas. Jason Jones is definitely the man to keep your eye on on defense this week but also look for Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright to have a big impact. Much like the Cardinals defense did last week, I think it would be effective to stack the box on first and second down to put extra pressure on Tony Romo and to clog interior running lanes for running back DeMarco Murray. My hope is for our defense as a whole to record at least one sack per quarter.
For both teams it is very necessary to analyze the wide receivers. The Seahawks have a healthy Golden Tate this week and he will most likely start at split end this week. Doug Baldwin is expected to play at full strength this week after he had two of his teeth chipped in the fourth quarter last week. The only Seahawks receiver who will not play this week is Charly Martin who suffered a bruised lung in Arizona last week. Martin spent time in an Arizona hospital after last week’s game as a precaution and he is expected to miss at least a couple games. Although Martin is hurt I don’t think the Seahawks will activate a receiver from the practice squad. The Seahawks will most likely dress only five receivers against the Cowboys.
For the Cowboys, I am afraid the Seahawks will spend too much time worrying about Kevin Ogletree. Ogletree came out of nowhere last week against the New York Giants, catching 8 balls for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns. Although Ogletree is an emerging threat, that does not mean we can be lenient with defending Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. Austin will most likely be defended by Brandon Browner, who made it clear last week he still has a problem with penalties. To my memory, I believe Browner got caught for pass interference, holding, and illegal contact all last week. If Browner does in fact cover Austin this week, look for Romo to throw in Austin’s direction a lot. There is a good chance that by throwing towards Browner, the Cowboys will pick up some yards via penalties. Jason Witten will also be back stronger this week. I think Witten will get targets but because he is still not 100 percent, his numbers will not be overly impressive. I think four catches for Witten would be considered decent.
Random Thoughts: This Sunday is the home opener. Barring a home playoff game, this will be the loudest game of the season by far… The Cowboys are the best opponent for our home opener since I have been a season ticket holder. Not a fan of playing the Rams and Cardinals in home opener’s year after year… My tailgate starts down at the stadium at 8:45am. I am stoked… I think the Seahawks will be wearing navy blue jerseys this week but I would love to see them wear gray and force Dallas to wear their ugly navy blue uniforms… Last year in the final regular season game against San Francisco, everybody seemed to bring and throw around Skittles whenever Marshawn Lynch broke off a big run or scored a touchdown. I need to remember to buy my Skittles before Sunday. I hope the 12th Man remembers to do the same… The referee this week is a guy by the name of Donovan Briggans. My friends and I have nicknamed him “replacement Mike Carey.” For those of you who don’t get the comparison look up both of those names. Hopefully you will then understand… Kenny Albert and Daryl “Moose” Johnston is the play-by-play/commentary pair this week. If the Seahawks would have won last week we might have gotten the number one FOX crew of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to call this week’s game. Slightly disappointing… This Sunday is also Alumni Day. I hope Cortez Kennedy makes an appearance even though the Seahawks postponed his jersey retirement until halftime of the New England game on October 14th… I can’t wait to talk fantasy with the people around me on Sunday. I just hope from a fantasy perspective the Seahawks shut down Dez Bryant… On Alumni Day the Seahawks always have a popular former player raise the 12th Man flag. I think that the flag raiser this week will be either Michael Sinclair or Shaun Alexander.
Prediction: I could see this game being very sloppy, at least to start out. The Seahawks have not lost a home opener since 2008 when they lost to San Francisco in overtime. The Seahawks are 8-2 all-time in home openers at CenturyLink Field. Not many people expect the Seahawks to win this week. I hate to say the Seahawks will win because of luck but I do think there is a chance a couple of bad calls or lucky breaks in favor of the Seahawks will be the difference in this week’s game. All in all, Russell Wilson will have a much better game than last week and the defense will be able to shut down the Cowboys running game. I think Romo will throw for three touchdowns but it will not be enough as Marshawn Lynch and a poised Wilson will lead the Seahawks to a nail-biting close victory.
Seahawks 30, Cowboys 27
I hope to have my review up before the start of Monday Night Football. Thanks for reading. For those of you going to the game this week, have lots of fun and BE LOUD. Go Seahawks!