Seattle’s game Sunday with Dallas represents not only a matchup of two leading MVP candidates — quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott — but also a chance for the Seahawks to achieve one of their best starts in franchise history.
A win Sunday would make Seattle 3-0 for just the seventh time in 45 seasons but also the only time under Pete Carroll other than 2013.
Seahawks fans shouldn’t need reminding how that season ended.
Let’s look at some keys to the game:
Matchup to watch : Seattle’s defensive line and pass rush versus Dallas’ banged-up offensive line
Seattle’s pass rush is going to be portrayed as a big question mark until it proves it isn’t. The Seahawks have just three sacks and only one by a lineman despite opponents attempting 98 passes, the most in the NFL, and now is without veteran Brice Irvin for the rest of the season. Prescott is tough to bring down, though, and has been getting rid of the ball quickly so far this year.
Seattle at least gets Dallas at less-than-full strength on its offensive line. Right tackle La’el Collins remains on the injured list and left tackle Tyron Smith is battling a neck injury and didn’t play last week and as of Thursday had yet to practice this week.
Player to watch: Russell Wilson
No reason to overthink this one this week. Wilson has led Seattle to 73 points in two games, the most by the Seahawks in the first two games of the season since 1985, with a staggering 9-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and completing 82.5% of his passes.
Now comes a Dallas defense with a banged-up secondary (cornerbacks Trevon Diggs and Chidobe Awuzie were each on the injury report this week and corner Anthony Brown went on the IR last week) that has allowed a passer rating of 103.1 in the first two games, 10th-worst in the NFL, and 8.1 yards per attempt, ninth-highest in the NFL and not far off the 8.6 of Seattle’s beleaguered defense. There’s simply no reason to think the Seahawks won’t keep with the aggressive early-down passing approach (all of Wilson’s TDs last week came on first or second down) and that he won’t have another big day.
Coaching decision to watch: Will the Seahawks continue to blitz more than a third of the time?
Under Carroll, the Seahawks have typically been in the bottom half of blitz percentage in the NFL. But this year, with the addition of one of the best blitzing safeties in the NFL in Jamal Adams and a line that has struggled to get consistent pressure out of a four-man rush, the Seahawks are blitzing as much as they ever have under Carroll — 35.9% of the time, sixth-most in the NFL, according to Pro Football Reference.
Seattle blitzed Cam Newton 18 times on 44 pass attempts last week, according to PFR, but got just one sack — that by Adams. Without Irvin, whose three quarterback hits lead the team, Seattle may need to continue to be aggressive defensively.
Players who could surprise: Alton Robinson/D’Andre Walker.
With Irvin gone for the year and Rasheem Green possibly missing another game, the Seahawks are certain to have Robinson — a fifth-round pick out of Syracuse — active for the first time in his career.
The Seahawks might also find a way to get Walker on the field, too. Walker was a fifth-round pick by Tennessee last year but sat out the season due to injury. Seattle claimed him off waivers Sept. 6 and he has been playing primarily strongside linebacker. Seattle could look to get him into pass-rush packages if he’s active.
The Final Word: Seahawks 35, Cowboys 31
A matchup of two hot offenses and MVP-candidate quarterbacks points to a lot of, well, points being scored. Both teams are also riding the momentum of winning their most recent game on the final play. Seattle’s defense is obviously troublesome, but right now it doesn’t seem like there’s anything that can stop Wilson and the offense. But this time, it may be Wilson who needs to make the last-minute play to pull it out for Seattle.