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The Seattle Seahawks roll into the playoffs on the back of winning 6/7 games, including impressive wins over the Chiefs and Panthers.

This week’s wildcard matchup against the red-hot Dallas Cowboys will be their toughest challenge of the year thus far.

Both teams have been very impressive on defense all year long. The Cowboys are guided by rookie sensation Leighton Vander Esch and third-year player Jaylon Smith. While the Seahawks have Frank Clark, Bradley McDougald and Bobby Wagner leading their defense into battle.

These names alone put the fear of god into any offensive players they come up against.

Both quarterbacks have spent a lot of time on the ground this season. Their O-lines are not protecting them enough. Russell Wilson has been sacked 51 times, while Dak Prescott has gone down 56 times. Both defenses will look to exploit this on Saturday night.

In recent weeks, the Cowboys have found a new receiver in tight end Blake Jarwin. Jarwin scored three touchdowns last week and looks to have secured the starting role going forward. This helps open up the field for Prescott and the rest of the Cowboys offense.

This will mean McDougald will need to have his head on a swivel if he wants to stamp his authority on this game.

Keys to the game:

Russell Wilson is the key to this game. If the Seahawks O-line can protect him long enough for him to get out of the pocket, into a position he loves to be in, they will go along way to winning this one.

In turn, the Cowboys need to put pressure on Wilson. The more uncomfortable he his, the more likely he is to make mistakes.

Key matchups:

Tre Flowers/Bradley McDougald v Amari Cooper

Cooper has sparked the Cowboys offense into life since he arrived in Week Eight. They have only lost twice since the trade with the Raiders. His signing allows the Cowboys to spread the offense and give them a quality route runner with great hands.

Tre Flowers has been sensational this year and will need to be at his best to cover Cooper. Expect McDougald to come across and help Flowers double-team him for much of this matchup.

Both teams have been very impressive on defense all year long.

Chris Carson v Leighton Vander Esch

The Cowboys are one of the best teams in the league against the run. They only allow 94.6 yards per game and will need to be at their best to stop Chris Carson and the rest of the Seattle rushing attack, which has been the best in the NFL this season. Carson has been a revelation this season for the Seahawks and has dominated the run game.

Vander Esch is an incredible rookie talent. He has 140 total tackles to his name and is a beast when hunting down opponents. This matchup will be the key to who wins this game.

Bobby Wagner v Ezekiel Elliott

Wagner is a tackling machine. He has 138 total tackles, so not a lot get past him these days. He will need to be at his best to stop one of the best running backs in the league in Elliott. Zeke has been a little quiet as of late, but expect him to show up ready to play in the biggest matchup of the season.

Tyler Lockett v Byron Jones

Lockett is the best player on the Seahawks offense. He scored 10 touchdowns this season and came up just short of 1,000 receiving yards. Cowboys cornerback Bryon Jones is no slouch and will give Lockett a run for his money on Saturday. This is a huge matchup for two great players.

Prediction:

These two teams are very evenly matched, and it will come down to who can execute better on game day.

You can’t split them, it’s going to be so close.

The Cowboys probably have a slight edge, but you can never count out a team led by Russell Wilson. This really could go either way.

Sports Al Dente 2019

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