What a time to be a Dallas Cowboys fan. America's Team will host a Wild Card Playoff game tonight against the Seattle Seahawks as they try to make their tremendous comeback from a 3-5 start count. It won't be easy for Dallas. After all, they're hosting a Seahawks team that also turned its season around and managed to finish the year with 10 wins.
Without further ado, let's get to this week's edition of Cowboys Wishlist. Hopefully, it won't be the last one of the year.
Wish #1: Attack the middle of the field
The Dallas Cowboys' offense is conservative. That's far from a secret. This is how Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan likes to work, whether you like it or not. But on week 17, the Cowboys were far more aggressive. They attacked the middle of the field in the passing game and were effective doing so.
Blake Jarwin benefited from this, earning himself a career day. He finished his day with 119 yards and three touchdowns on the Cowboys' 36-35 win over the New York Giants. Cole Beasley also racked up big numbers thanks to his presence on the middle of the field. Hopefully, the Cowboys approach this game in similar fashion. They did so in a meaningless game in which they had nothing to lose, it's time to watch them execute in playoff action.
Wish #2: Use Ezekiel Elliott on passing game
I wish Ezekiel Elliott is able to run the ball as well as he always does. But this time, my wish will be about his performance as a receiver. The Seahawks are one of the teams which allow the most receiving yards to opposing running backs. They rank as the third worst team under this category.
Ezekiel Elliott will come into this game rested and if the Cowboys are able to get him involved as a receiver, it'll give the Seahawks' defense one more thing to worry about when facing this offense.
Wish #3: Don't let Chris Carson win the game
Chris Carson is one of three running backs to run for more than 100 yards against the Cowboys' defense. He's been averaging 82 yards per game and has been the Seahawks' MVP this season as he's taken a lot of pressure off of QB Russell Wilson's shoulders.
Carson is likely to find success running the ball, considering over the last three weeks the Cowboys have allowed two running backs to rush for over 100 yards (Marlon Mack, Saquon Barkley). However, I trust this defense will not let the Seahawks' rushing attack determinante the game's outcome.
The defensive backs have exceeded expectations all year long and I expect them to do the same against an offense that doesn't have a very scary group of receivers. Byron Jones and company should be just fine. Running the ball shouldn't be enough for Seattle to win.
Wish #4: Tyron Smith beats Frank Clark, Connor Williams shines at LG
A matchup to watch tonight will be Tyron Smith lining up against pass rusher Frank Clark. The Cowboys wisely rested Smith in the regular season finale, so Smith should be ready to go against the Seahawks' head hunter. The Cowboys' offensive line hasn't been as good as in 2016 or 2014 and combined with Dak Prescott holding the ball for too long, the result has been a ton of sacks for Dallas' QB.
I wish Smith is able to keep Prescott's blind side clean as he plays next to the second round rookie. That's right, after suffering an injury versus the Giants, it all points toward Xavier Su'a-Filo missing tomorrow's game. In his place will be the Cowboys' second round draft pick Connor Williams. Williams was the starter at the beginning of the season but once he was sidelined with an injury, he never got the job back.
I don't expect Williams to put on a great performance, but I certainly don't expect a big downgrade at left guard.
It's great to see the Dallas Cowboys back in the playoffs. At the end of the day, this weekly series is meant to be a fun read. I simply wish the Cowboys get that win today and I honestly believe they will. They're a very good football team and can compete against any other in the league. Enjoy the playoffs!