It’s going to be a battle of strength versus strength on Sunday when the Cowboys offense lines up against the stingy Seahawks D.
DeMarco Murray will be looking to tie an NFL record by rushing for 100 yards in each of the first six games of the season. More importantly however, the Cowboys will be looking to win a big game in Seattle, a place that only the Arizona Cardinals have won in the past two years.
The biggest match-up in my opinion is between the Cowboys’ offensive line and the Seahawks’ front seven.
The three first round draft picks spent on the o-line have played great this season, both in paving a way for Murray as well as keeping Romo clean in the pocket. Some have proclaimed the young offensive line to be the best in the league already, and a big game against the NFL’s premier defense could attract many more people to buy into the hype.
After watching the Cowboys offensive line shut down elite pass rushers including Robert Quinn and JJ Watt, I’m confident they’ll be able to keep Romo upright for the most part. The run game is where it’ll get interesting.
The Cowboys have the second most rushing yards per game this season, trailing the Seahawks by seven yards. The Seattle defense has allowed a league low 62 rushing yards a game and 2.6 yards per rush to opposing teams including only one touchdown. However, they haven’t faced a running back like DeMarco Murray or an offensive line like the one Dallas has been building in recent years.
In past games, offenses playing against Seattle have failed to get their blockers to the second level and get their hands on the linebackers. The Seahawks defense is able to take advantage of this because they have a big man in the middle – Brandon Mebane – that draws double teams, and an athletic group of linebackers led by Bobby Wagner.
The good news is that the Cowboys offensive line has enough athleticism and plays with enough effort to neutralize the linebackers. Tyron Smith is one of the most athletic lineman in all of football and I’ve seen him and Travis Frederick making blocks more than fifteen yards down the field. What will help them out as well is Murray’s running style. He knows how to be patient and wait for a hole to open up and this will allow time for his big guys to crack down on the linebackers. And as far as Mebane goes, the interior lineman have shown so far that they can handle just about anyone this season.
On top of all that, the o-line will have the help of the crafty Jason Witten. He may not put punishing blocks on anyone but he has shown that he can seal the edge against top defensive players when he needs to.
My prediction for the o-line is two sacks given up and over 100 yards rushing, but not for Murray. I think Murray will end up in the 85-95 yard range with Dunbar picking up about 25 yards as well.