Seattle Seahawks (3-4 SU, 2-4-1 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (2-4 SU, 1-5 ATS)
NFL Week 8
Date/Time: November 1st/4:25pm ET
Where: AT&T Stadium
by Evergreen, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SEA -6/DAL +6
Over/Under Total: 41
There are plenty of underperforming teams in this years NFL and it is put up or shut up time for many of those less-than-stellar squads. The Seattle Seahawks are one of those teams that havent met expectations so far but they get a chance to pull even in the win-loss column by heading to Dallas and knocking off the Cowboys. The Boys having been taking on water after losing Dez Bryant and Tony Romo to injury but they still have a pulse in a watered down NFC East as long as they can win a few while their stars mend. It will be a longshot for Dallas to knock off a more talented team that is feeling the desperation but who knows what can happen this weekend in the Jerry-Dome.
Even without being the primed unit we have come to know, Seattle is a big favorite at all the online betting sites, currently listed at -6 with the over/under for the game set at 41. The Hawks have been getting fat on lesser competition of late, going 5-1 against the spread in the last six games against sub-.500 teams. Not only is Dallas 1-4 ATS in their last five against the NFC but they are riding a four game ATS losing streak at home.
It is a bit of a shocker to see Seattle sitting in third in the NFC West standings but they are just two back of Arizona with two remaining meetings so they can turn the ship around rather easily and some of that starts this week. Outside of a 10-point loss in Green Bay, the Seahawks have dropped two games by three points, another by four and have had leads in the second half of three of their four defeats. Bottom line is this team is still good but certainly more flawed than in years past. Many of the struggles come from shoddy offensive line play and significant injuries to the workhorse Marshawn Lynch. Russell Wilson has been on the run way too much this year and the offense is no longer the consistent performer that it has been but the defense is still one of the best and that unit is good enough to win nearly on its own.
Dallas is just a shell of itself without Romo and Dez. They are riding a four game losing streak and really havent found any answers to those losses. Matt Cassel has replaced Brandon Weeden at quarterback but Cassel threw three picks in a 27-20 loss at the Giants last week so there doesnt seem to be a positive trend there. Darren McFadden is now starting at running back, in part due to a Joseph Randle but also due to a fantastic game last week where he ran for 152 yards with a score. That kind of production will be necessary this week if the Cowboys hope to move the ball against the 6th best run defense. Cassel should be able to limit the turnovers but he isnt likely to produce a quality game against a defense that has 19 sacks and is allowing just 18.3 points per game.
Russell Wilson doesnt have the high ceiling stats of a Rodgers or Brady but the Seattle QB is competing nearly 70% of his passes and has kept so many drives alive by using his unique scrambling skills. Lynch and Thomas Rawls have scraped enough yards together to keep Seattle in the top-5 for rushing offense and the big runs started to creep back in during last weeks 20-3 win at San Francisco. Jimmy Graham remains a matchup problem for any defense but Wilson is one of the best at spreading it around with six different Seahawks hauling in at least one touchdown grab. Seattle might be the best special teams unit in terms of scoring as Steven Hauschka is 16-for-16 on field goals and Tyler Lockett has scored on both a kick and punt return so far.
Considering the Cowboy offense isnt likely to put up big numbers on offense, we should take a look at how the Dallas defense stacks up as a big game by that side of the ball might be the biggest key. Dallas has done well in terms of yards allowed, ranking no worse than 13th in passing, rushing or total yards allowed but they have not been able to keep the score in check, allowing 26.3 points per game. Thats troubling considering Seattle doesnt turn the ball over on a regular basis and Dallas has not specialized in the big defensive play with just 13 sacks and 2 INTs so far.
There is some chance that Dez Bryant plays this week as he has logged some practice time. If Romo were also in the lineup, you could make a case for Dallas putting some points on the board but a limited Bryant working with Cassel doesnt move the needle for me. Even a fully healthy Dez would have a tough matchup against the Seattle secondary. Dallas went into Seattle last year and stunned the Seahawks, a fact Im guessing leads to a revenge-type of effort for the desperate Hawks. It might not be a clinic on offense but Wilson will use his legs to move the chains and throw the ball just enough to get the job done. In the end, Dallas is just too limited and missing too many playmakers to put up an effective fight. Seattle seals the deal late behind Lynchs grinding style and gets a 23-13 win.
Evergreens Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Seattle
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