Seahawks vs. Cowboys: 3 key matchups to watch

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

The Seattle Seahawks will look to keep momentum rolling when they visit the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday afternoon at AT&T Stadium.

Seattle’s season looked to be in jeopardy after it fell to 2-4 with back-to-back blown leads against the Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Panthers. However, the Seahawks got back to form last Thursday with a dominating 20-3 road win over the rival San Francisco 49ers.

While the 49ers are likely going to finish last in the NFC West, it was good to see the Seahawks play to their full ability. The schedule gets a little easier now, and Seattle will have to take advantage of that to make a run at the postseason.

That begins this weekend with a trip to Dallas to face a reeling Cowboys team that has lost four games in a row. The Cowboys looked to be among the NFC favorites at the start of the year, but were set back by injuries to several key players.

Matt Cassel remains under center in place of the injured Tony Romo, which means the Seahawks enter this game as a sizeable favorite. Still, Dallas has enough talent elsewher to challenge Seattle at home.

Greg Hardy vs. Seattle offensive line

Even with the strong overall performance a year ago, the Seahawks’ offensive line was still shaky in pass protection against San Francisco. Russel Wilson was sacked five times, bringing his season total to a league-high 31.

Things won’t get any easier against the Cowboys’ pass rush. In particular, defensive end Greg Hardy could cause all sorts of problems for Seattle’s embattled offensive line.

In two games since returning from a suspension, Hardy has recorded three sacks and was able to constantly pressure Tom Brady in Week 6 against the New England Patriots. The Seahawks don’t need to completely shut out Hardy to win on Sunday, but they do need to stop him from wreaking havoc.

The Seahawks are still not sure who will be starting at center, as Patrick Lewis was able to return to limited practice on Wednesday. Lewis started in Week 6 before being sidelined last Thursday with an ankle injury. Drew Nowak, who originally won the center job out of camp before being benched, took over in Lewis’ place.

Dez Bryant vs. Seahawks secondary

Romo’s injury has been the main cause of Dallas’ slide, but the Cowboys have also been without the services of arguably the NFL’s best receiver since Week 1. Bryant was able to practice for the first time since suffering a foot injury and has a good chance to play this Sunday.

That could spell trouble for a Seahawks secondary that hasn’t always looked in sync this season. Cassel at least showed an ability to throw the ball down field last week (unlike predecessor Brandon Weeden) and will be targeting Bryant often if he is able to play.

It will be interesting to see how the Seahawks line up defensively if Bryant indeed suits up. With Cary Williams struggling in recent weeks, Seattle has been having Richard Sherman shadow No. 1 receivers rather than stick to one side of the field more often than in previous years.

Michael Bennett vs. Dallas offensive line

Bennett was the most dominant player on the field on Thursday, recording a career-high 3.5 sacks. After many worried about how Bennett’s contract dispute would impact his play, he is now tied for the NFL lead in sacks after seven games.

Dallas will present a much more difficult challenge for Bennett and company. The Cowboys boast arguably the best offensive line in football, which the Seahawks will have to find a way to crack to get some pressure on the quarterback.

If the Seahawks can pressure Cassel, they will likely be able to force some mistakes and limit the already depleted Dallas offense.

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Nathaniel Reeves

Nathaniel Reeves is a journalism student at the University of Washington, currently covering sports for The UW Daily in addition to Sports Out West. He has been closely following Seattle sports his entire life.


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