Week 1 of NFL action was kind to the Dallas Cowboys, but the real test is yet to come. There were several surprises last week, including the Cowboys’ win over the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, but Week 2 will separate the flukes from the statements. The Seattle Seahawks are no scrubs, but Dallas needs to beat them handedly to validate its win over New York.
That will start on defense, the area in which the Cowboys most needed improvement and seemed to have accomplished that against the Giants. Dallas held New York quarterback Eli Manning to just 213 passing yards and one touchdown – a drastic improvement from his 736 yards and five scores in two meetings last season. New cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr played relatively well in their Dallas debuts, but it was the pass rush on Manning that allowed the Cowboys to pull out the victory.
Dallas goes from facing a two-time Super Bowl MVP in Manning last week to a rookie signal-caller this week in Seattle’s Russell Wilson. The Wisconsin (by way of North Carolina State) product was good in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals last week, but not great. However, that game was played in Phoenix, so Wilson will have the advantage of the CenturyLink Field crowd at his back this week.
He shows more poise than most veteran quarterbacks in the NFL, so a steady pass rush alone won’t rattle Wilson. Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is going to have to dial up some exotic packages (which he absolutely loves to do) to take advantage of Wilson’s lack of NFL experience since his demeanor seems to be unshakable. If nothing else, Dallas’ defensive alignments in Week 2 will be very intriguing.
Since 2005, CenturyLink Field has caused more false starts by opposing teams than any other stadium in the league. In anticipation of that loud crowd noise, the Cowboys’ offense has practiced with speakers on the practice field at Valley Ranch this week. Dallas is hoping that will prevent another game like the one against New York in which the Cowboys were flagged 15 times, five of which were false starts.
As far as an offensive game plan, Dallas absolutely cannot steer away from what was successful in Week 1. A steady running game from DeMarco Murray coupled with some big plays from Tony Romo and the passing game provides superb balance for the Cowboys’ offense, a formula the team can’t afford to abandon. Head coach and offensive play-caller Jason Garrett has a trigger finger like Barney Fife, so he must reign that in and avoid becoming too pass happy.
The Cowboys will come out on top in this game if they can get some pressure on Wilson and cover the Seahawks’ receivers they way they did the Giants’ last week. There’s no reason why Dallas’ offense can’t put up a ton of points again this week, so Ryan and company will have to make Wilson beat them. He wasn’t able to beat Arizona, so the Cowboys have no excuse not to handle this game like a good team should. Otherwise, the New York game will be ancient history.
Prediction: Cowboys 31, Seahawks 17.