By Zach Walker
Dallas Cowboys vs. Seattle Seahawks
Thursday – August 25 – 9:00 p.m.
TV: NFL Network
CenturyLink Field – Seattle, Washington
For the Dallas Cowboys their second preseason game went very well, actually, I really struggle to find negatives from that game. Turnovers forced, a punt blocked, and an offense that just kept rolling. The back-up quarterback situation is seeming a closed vote nowadays. Dak Prescott looks like a vision out there. Obviously, these games should be taken with a side dish of salt, but the throws won’t change, his scrambling ability won’t change, and his ability to burn off and score when the doors are closed downfield is something quite new for Cowboys’ fans to view and celebrate. Take a spin around the league, look at the teams that have drafted quarterbacks this year and look at how they’ve looked in preseason, and there should be an image of an immortal knight in your head, explaining that the Cowboys have chosen wisely. Dak appears to be NFL ready, and that’s a supreme relief. The Seattle Seahawks are up next for preseason game #3, with MyTopSportsbooks.com setting the hosts as -5.5 favorites with the over/under at 44.
Five points to look for:
#1: The Debut of Zeke: Overshadowing even the dress rehearsal, is the unveiling of the Cowboys’ first round pick. Alfred Morris has been extremely impressive, as it should have been expected, but he’s been a pro for a while. Ezekiel Elliott is drawing kind of a short straw with circumstances for his debut. Dez Bryant has a concussion, so why even attempt to play him, so the respect downfield won’t be the same, so he could see a slightly more stacked front than usual. Then it’s the front that’s opposing him. Seattle hasn’t really changed much, the pieces are still the same. The safeties are punishing, the linebackers are going to be the fastest players Zeke’s ever played against, and the defensive line isn’t going to be the same one-armed turnstiles that he was powering through in college. If he looks good, it’s just another positive young weapon. If he struggles, it’s both understandable, and not worrying, because the Cowboys have a solid stable of backs and can ease him in.
#2: The Dress Rehearsal: With Dez Bryant likely being held out, it takes some flavor out of this matchup, because of how tasty Dez versus Richard Sherman would have been again. But the matchup to watch is the trenches when the Cowboys have the ball. The Seattle front four isn’t the most talented group, but they are a top group because of their effectiveness. Throw in Bobby Wagner as the plug in middle and running lanes are going to have to be forced open by the Cowboys’ road graders. Terrence Williams is into a step-up mode for this game, as do the rest of the receivers.
#3: Containing Russell Wilson: Russell Wilson is a slippery devil. He knows how to escape pressure and take advantage either downfield or bail and just pick-up the first down with his legs. When the Cowboys have played the Seahawks the last two seasons, the Cowboys have done a very good job of getting both pressure in the face of Russell Wilson and sealing his escape routes from the pocket. It’ll be a task for the young defensive linemen to contain him, but it’s essential for a victory against the Seahawks.
#4: Less Dirty Hankies – Penalty Problem: The penalties have been a serious kick to the nads. Holding calls, both offensive and defensive, have been annoying but not damming. But seriously, I still might be a little pissed off about the penalties against Anthony Hitchens, when he took a player to the ground, then got pulled aside by four Dolphins, while they had firm grip on HIS facemask, then he got the facemask call for it. The referees had their minds clearly made up early in that game. They need to just avoid all the possibility of these extra penalties. (Side-note: I had no idea that a roughing the passer negates an interception)
#5: Dak – 3 for 3?: Prescott is going to get the second half against the Seahawks, and it’d be the final knot in tying down the back-up quarterback position for himself. It really doesn’t matter how well he’s played, though he has, but it’s him showcasing that he can lead, read, run, and throw excellent passes with a strong report with his receivers that will make the decision to go forward with just Prescott backing up Tony Romo an easy choice.
Looking at the Seahawks:
#1: The Loss of the Boss – Replacing Lynch: The Seahawks aren’t that same kind of juggernaut they once were, because they’re missing their juggernaut, Marshawn Lynch. They’re going forward with a backfield stable, quite like the Cowboys. The Seahawks did look like a really formidable team, relying on the pocket skill of Russell Wilson for like the last eight games of the season. The Seahawks are going with Thomas Rawls, Christine Michael, Alex Collins, and C.J. Prosise. That’s a solid mix of different skills, but going from knowing one guy is doing the job they needed done, to now four is still a step backwards. Lynch was beast-mode and replacing that is going to be a task.
#2: Tyler Lockett: This player is going to be a star soon. Russell Wilson is a player smart enough to fully utilize a player with the skill set of Tyler Lockett. He’s in the size frame range to be cast as that slot receiver, but he’s capable of being the best slot receiver in the league, especially given the Seahawks’ lack of big time receiving threats. It’s also a great time for the emergence of Lockett, because it really looked like the team is ready to truly expand Russell Wilson as a passer. Lockett against Orlando Scandrick will be a great matchup for Thursday.