The Dallas Cowboys started off the 2012 season on a winning note last week with a 24-17 road victory over the defending NFC East and Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. The Cowboys now head to the West Coast to take on the Seattle Seahawks.
Given that so much of the preseason turnover in the Cowboys organization was predicated upon unseating the Super Bowl Champion Giants, last week was a very important victory for the pysche of the Cowboys’ fans, players, coaches, and front office. Although it was only week one, it would be a total understatement to say this was just another game for the Cowboys.
You could tell during the off-season how hard it was for the organization as a whole to restrain from making it all about the Giants. Owner, President, and General Manager Jerry Jones finally succumbed to the pressure during training camp when he proclaimed, “Y’all should come to that stadium and watch us beat the New York Giants’ butts”. Say hello to Jerry “All Seeing and Knowing” Jones as he correctly predicted that one.
Although there were plenty of great storylines coming out of the Giants game, it’s now time to turn our focus towards QB Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks. The rookie QB is coming off of a less than spectacular game against the Arizona Cardinals that still could have ended in victory if WR Braylon Edwards makes one catch.
As both casual fans and obsessive amateur analysts understand, a NFL game is made up of small battles within the game and either of these can greatly influence the outcome in an instant. Let’s take a look at three key areas that will likely determine if the Cowboys start the season 2-0 or 1-1.
1. The Seahawks offensive line vs. the Cowboys front seven. By all accounts, this looks like a total mismatch in favor of the Cowboys. The stats show that QB Russell Wilson was sacked three times, but what the stats won’t tell you is that his athleticism is the only thing that prevented the sack total from being six or seven. Wilson is plenty athletic enough to move in the pocket and at times make plays with his legs, but most rookies become extremely inaccurate when they can’t set their feet.
This proved to be Wilson’s downfall against the Cardinals and will likely be the story against the Cowboys. Cardinals Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton, a Pittsburgh Steelers disciple, utilized multiple blitzes and disguised fronts to bring pressure. On the flip side, Dallas Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan stuck with the base 3-4 look for the majority of the game and was able to neutralize the usually high octane act of the Giants. This may have been due to QB Eli Manning’s high completion rate vs. the blitz, so going up against a rookie QB this week could call for more exotic fronts and blitzes.
Compounding the Seahawks problems is the bone bruise to LT Russell Okung’s knee and the benching of RG J.R. Sweezy for poor play. This game will continue the confidence upswing for a Cowboys front seven that could prove to be one of the league’s best. I predict the first two sacks of the year for Anthony Spencer this week. Verdict: Huge Advantage to Cowboys.