NFC Wild Card Pick Seahawks at Cowboys
Seattle Seahawks (10-6 SU, 9-5-2 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (10-6 SU, 9-6-1 ATS)
NFC Wild Card Playoff Game
Date/Time: Saturday January 5th, 2019. 8:15PM (EST)
Where: AT&T Stadium Dallas, T.X..
Point Spread:SEA +1.5/DAL -1.5
Over/Under Total: 43.5
The NFL playoffs will kick off this weekend highlighted by a primetime NFC Wild Card pairing this Saturday when the Seattle Seahawks travel to AT&T Stadium for a date with the Dallas Cowboys. The Seahawks and Cowboys have come alive throughout the 2nd half of the season. The Cowboys overcame a 3-5 SU start by winning 7 of their last 8 games to take down the NFC East. Meanwhile, the Seahawks survived a ton of injuries to rally during the 2nd half of the year to win 6 of their last 7 games to secure a Wild Card spot in the postseason. Now a healthy Seattle group will have the opportunity to face a Cowboys team that they beat earlier this year in week 3 as they attempt to make another deep playoff run under Head Coach Pete Carroll.
Cowboys seeking much needed playoff win
Earlier this year, Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett appeared to be on his way out the door. However, the Cowboys late-season rally has helped Garrett’s chances of returning in 2019 but let’s not avoid the elephant in the room; a loss could definitely change those plans. Garrett and the Cowboys are in their 9th season together with very few significant accomplishments to hang their hat on. The Cowboys have won just 2 playoff games in the previous 8 seasons under Garrett and never made it past the NFC Division Round in the postseason. Another postseason tank after the magical turnaround would leave a sour taste in the mouths of the Cowboys front office once again.
Expect a slow-paced game
The biggest reason that both the Cowboys and Seahawks have emerged throughout the 2nd half of the season has been the play of each team’s defense. The Cowboys notoriously held New Orleans to just 10 points in their week 13 upset and continue to improve along the defensive front where they have stymied opponents to just 3.8 yards per attempt on the ground (4th in NFL). Likewise, the Seahawks have overcome injuries and have been aided by young talent in their reemergence on defense. Far from the days of the Legion of Boom, the Seahawks have managed to be solid despite the loss of talent.
With Seattle’s improvement on defense, Head Coach Pete Carroll should be given a ton of credit from how he has changed his offensive philosophy to be sufficient for this team. Instead of relying on the extended play capability of quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seahawks have turned into a heavily favored running attack behind Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, and Mike Davis. Carson has emerged as the bell cow, but the entire stable contains physical rushers that can move the sticks. Carroll has utilized the Seahawks rushing attack to limit opposing team’s opportunities on offense which has been a recipe to success.
Ironically, the Cowboys utilize this same philosophy on offense surrounding running back Ezekiel Elliott. There has been plenty of talk and proof this year that the Cowboys offense strives when Zeke is the focal point. Last week in the meaningless win over the Giants, it is worth noting that Dak Prescott played the entire game which I expected would be the case. However, Elliott never touched the field, and that was not a surprise because Dallas needs their most important player to be fresh this weekend. As both of these offenses look to establish the run against physical defenses, we should expect this game to have a slow start. Don’t expect either Prescott or Wilson to force the ball downfield early, both offenses will be extremely motivated to establishing the run.
Under 43.5 looks promising
Because of the match-up, game strategy, and coaching tendencies, I expect this game to have a slow start barring any quick scores or turnovers. Neither offense is afraid to pick up the tempo, but both offenses rarely do unless they are put in a hole. As a result, I think the under 43.5 is a very solid pick from a pure probability standpoint. Recent trends would also agree as the Cowboys have hit the ‘under’ in 17 of their last 25 games. The Seahawks recent run of competitive high scoring games has helped push this total higher than I expected. I was initially expecting a sub 40 total but understand the reasoning why it is a little higher. Still, Seattle and Dallas have hit the ‘under’ in 5 of their last 6 meetings. Therefore, I would not be surprised to see that trend to continue Saturday night.
Take Dallas -1.5
Trends probably tell us that Seattle is the better pick in this game. The Seahawks have been an excellent postseason team under Carroll and have also won 4 of the last 6 meetings against Dallas. However, I believe the match-up favors the Cowboys more than the trends. Seattle has done a great job during the 2nd half of the season winning 6 of their last 7 games. However, only 1 of those wins was against a playoff opponent (Kansas City). While the win against the Chiefs was impressive, the Seahawks have won some close battles against very marginal teams by establishing ball control.
I don’t expect the Seahawks to win the ball control game on Saturday. The Cowboys play the same style of football. The difference is that the Cowboys are more talented perhaps for the 1st time in those last 6 meetings. The Dallas defense has an elite linebacker group that should limit Wilson’s damage on the ground. As long as the Cowboys do not give up any big plays, this is the match-up they can win on both sides of the ball. Seattle’s defense has allowed 4.9 yards per attempt on the ground this year which is the 3rd worst mark in the NFL. Only the Chiefs and Rams defenses have allowed more yards per attempt. The Cowboys offensive line and Zeke will feast in this opportunistic match-up. Take the Cowboys with confidence!
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Take Dallas -1.5