The Dallas Cowboys might be the hottest team in the NFL right now with four consecutive wins, but that streak will be tested in the toughest environment the league has to offer, visiting the defending Super Bowl champions, the Seattle Seahawks.
Tony Romo was awful in the week 1 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He threw three interceptions, was sacked three times in that game and was quite abysmal under duress in that game, posting a 0.7 QBR according to ESPN. But since that loss, with four consecutive wins Romo himself has looked much better. He’s completing 71% of his passes has been sacked 1.5 times per game, has thrown eight touchdowns to only two interceptions and has a total QBR of 88.8.
The offensive line has gotten a lot better which is clear to see. It wasn’t completely able to hold off J.J. Watt in the narrow win over the Houston Texans, but it has been doing a much better job with each week. Tyron Smith has turned into one of the best left tackles in the league. As a unit, their improvement has allowed the running game to dominate, and for the Cowboys to finally be a lot more balanced with the ball.
Murray is leading the NFL in rushing yards with 670 so far, also scoring five touchdowns. The Cowboys are second in the NFL when running the ball, seven yards less per game than the Seattle Seahawks, who don’t rely just on Marshawn Lynch to carry them forward. Russell Wilson has rushed for 209 yards through the first four games, and Percy Harvin has been quite useful, busting out for big plays in the first two games of the season.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Cowboys defense actually does against Seattle’s power game. The Cowboys, statistically, look better defensively, but it depends on which numbers you look. They might be allowing less points (20.6) and yards per game (369.8) compared to the awfulness of last season, but it has something to do with just how much they have the ball thanks to their running game. They’re giving up more yards per play, getting to the quarterback almost twice as less and aren’t forcing more turnovers than last year. Their achilles heel is simply spending less time on the field.
And that will be the key against the Seahawks as well, who are aching to try and force Romo into bad, deep throws against this secondary unit, which isn’t getting the same respect from the national media as it did last year, especially Richard Sherman. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets lineup up with Dez Bryant for most of the game, and how that clashing of heads will determine the outcome of the game, although there are other weapons for the Cowboys to use, and other defensive threats on the Seahawks.
No one stops the run better than the Seahawks, allowing just 67 yards per game on the ground. Asserting that dominance will probably decide how this game ends up. If the Cowboys keep the ball in DeMarco Murray’s hands to move the chains, it’ll open up things for Romo. Forcing Romo to try and win this game on his own might be the creation of a recipe with a very bad outcome. He did quite poorly when the Cowboys last visited Seattle.