Can the Cowboys run on the Seahawks at the CLink this weekend? That's been the area of focus for me over the past two weeks in watching both Dallas' newly dominant run game and Seattle's revitalized run defense.
Right now, the Cowboys are second in the NFL in rushing yards and yards per game at 160 per, second only to the Seahawks, who get a lot of their yardage from one Russell Wilson. The Cowboys tend to get it the old fashioned way, and are led up front by an elite group of offensive linemen. Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin are three of the Cowboys' last four first round picks and Dallas appears dedicated to collecting on their investment there by running DeMarco Murray behind them. The Cowboys' 4.9 yards per carry is sixth in the NFL, they boast the 3rd ranked rush offense per DVOA, and most importantly, they've not abandoned the run in previous weeks when they fall behind.
Commitment, the horses up front to lead the way, and a talented and powerful running back in DeMarco Murray: this is the combination of factors that makes Dallas' run game dangerous this week.
Of course, Seattle has the number one ranked run defense in the NFL right now, both in traditional stats and in DVOA. They've given up 62 yards per game, 2.8 yards per carry, and only one touchdown on the ground, plus have caused a league-high five fumbles. They're at home. They've got a raucous home crowd behind them. If anyone can stop the Cowboys gouging rush attack, it is the Seahawks.
However, they may have to do so without Kam Chancellor, their run-stopping, enforcer of a strong safety. Kam is listed as questionable with a hip injury, so that potentially complicates things. Jeron Johnson would take his place in the secondary, but it's not easy to replace an All Pro and hope for the same results.
My matchup of the week is the Seahawks run defense against the Cowboys rush offense. It's my opinion that the Seahawks can and should get the job done and hold the advantage there, but as we've seen over the years, there have been games sprinkled in where Seattle loses gap control and misses tackles, resulting in big gains for the opponents. They'll hope that doesn't show up this week.