Posted on December 21, 2017, by Travis Pulver
The Dallas Cowboys needed a bit of luck to get a much-needed win over the Oakland Raiders Sunday— but they got it. With the win, they go 3-3 during Ezekiel Elliot’s suspension. They needed to do at least that to remain in the playoff hunt when he returns in Week 16. But to stay in the hunt, they will need to keep winning.
Next up, a down-but-not-out Seattle Seahawks team.
It’s been a rough year for Seattle. They still have offensive line issues. None of the guys they hoped could be the next running back of the future panned out. The defense couldn’t withstand the number of injuries it has been forced to endure.
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But thanks to the amazing talent that Russell Wilson has, the team has still managed to win enough games to remain relevant. That is until they were destroyed by the Los Angeles Rams last week. Technically, they are still in contention for a playoff spot, but realistically, they are done in two weeks.
However, they can still make an impact on the postseason. If they can win in Dallas, they can eliminate the Cowboys from the playoff race. But with how easily Todd Gurley and Leonard Fournette gashed the Seattle defense the last couple weeks, it is hard to imagine the Seahawks slowing Elliot down.
So—who’s going to win?
The key to the game and the only player anyone wants to watch is Elliot. How is he going to look after not playing for six weeks? Can he pick up right where he left off? What will the Seattle defense try to do to contain him? Will the threat of Elliot make it easier for the passing game to get on track?
It all depends on Elliot, who was training in Europe while serving his six-game suspension, and how much Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett plans on using him. But it is hard to say how much that could be until they see him take the field for practice Wednesday.
“Just have to wait and see,” Garrett said (ESPN). “Got to see how he is [Tuesday], got to see how he practices as the week goes on.”
How much they can get out of Elliot will dictate the Dallas game plan. But the Dallas defense will also have to deal with Russell Wilson. It isn’t hard to imagine Wilson picking the Dallas defense apart with his arm and/or legs.
What Dallas fans have to worry about is which version of their defense is going to show up. Will it be the one that played great for one half, but then crashed and burned in the second half like against Atlanta, Philadelphia, and the Chargers. To a lesser extent, the same could be said about last week’s game against the Raiders.
The defense dominated Oakland for most of the first half, but then in the second, Derek Carr and Marshawn Lynch looked like All-Pro players. If they play as flat as they did then in the second half against Seattle, Russell Wilson will happily tear them to shreds.
The Cowboys are going to get a big emotional lift out of Elliot coming back. How can they not? The hope will be that his return will make everyone step their game up. But there is also the chance that guys may slack off. They may think they don’t need to do as much now that Elliot, the workhorse, is back.
It will all get sorted out in the first quarter and the first five minutes of the second half. Should the Cowboys get off to a strong start, it is not hard to imagine the Cowboys running away with the game in the first half like the Rams did last week.
But the key will be the first five minutes of the second half. If the Dallas defense plays well in the first half and gets off to a strong start in the second half, the Cowboys will be in good shape.
Don’t expect much out of the Seahawks. Seattle is a scrappy bunch that can’t be counted out. But they are too busy scrapping with each other to play good football right now. For some crazy reason, oddsmakers made Dallas just a five-point favorite.
They will easily cover the spread.