For the second consecutive week the Seattle Seahawks will be playing an NFC contender, with Hawks fans likely hoping that things go much better this time around. On Thanksgiving the Seahawks were pushed all over the field on both offense and defense by the San Francisco 49ers in a 31-13 loss that dropped the Hawks to 6-5 on the season and on the cusp of losing the playoff spot they currently occupy.
They will need to perform better against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Thursday Night Football if they hope to avoid a repeat performance, and they are likely to have their hands full against a talented Dallas team. Joining Field Gulls to preview the matchup is Editor in Chief of Blogging the Boy, David Halprin, so without wasting any further time, here are the answers to the questions posed this week.
1. Dak Prescott has been lights out this season, and is only signed through 2024. With no tag and no trade clauses in his contract, do you expect to see a contract extension in the coming months, and if so how big will that contract be?
The feeling is that it’s a foregone conclusion the Cowboys will get an extension done with Dak Prescott. The Cowboys front office has been talking about it for a while and the underlying thing that comes out of their mouths is that they will sign him to a contract extension this offseason. In essence, they have to. Prescott’s cap number for 2024 is a whopping $60 million because of the structure of his last contract, so an extension was always the idea for this offseason. They can’t go into 2024 with that cap number.
My guess is he will be the next QB to reset the market whenever he gets his deal done. That means at the moment he would top the Joe Burrow deal. If another high-profile QB gets one done before Dak does, then he will probably top that one. The Cowboys are not going to let Prescott hit free agency, and Dak holds the leverage. It will be a monster contract.
2. In part due to the play of Prescott the Cowboys are the highest scoring team in the NFL this season. What are they doing differently this season compared to seasons prior that is allowing them to put so many points on the board?
It has been an evolution for Mike Mike McCarthy’s offense this season. They scored a lot of points early in the year, but some of that came from a combination of the defense/special teams scoring, and playing bad teams. The Cowboys offense didn’t really take off until after their bye week. That’s when they came out and started doing things a little differently. The biggest change is they started pushing the ball downfield more. Prior to the bye, Prescott seemed to be limited to quick, short throws, but that has changed. They can start going downfield more because their offensive line is now healthy and playing well.
They also have been using more pre-snap motion, and they also throw the ball more on first down. That was a problem from previous years, runs on first down that put the offense behind the chains. Now they pass more on first down and have been very successful doing it. All of that has added up to an offense that is playing very well right now. The roster has a ton of talent and the offensive scheme is utilizing all of it.
3. Seahawks fans know all the big name players for Dallas, but who is someone Seattle fans may not be familiar with who could play a role in the outcome Thursday night?
I’ll run through a few under-the-radar players who could come up big for the Cowboys. Tight end Jake Ferguson is in his second year and is providing solid play, both in receiving the ball and run blocking. His receiving output isn’t consistent yet, but he can hurt a defense. Left guard Tyler Smith is in his second year but is already looking at a long, successful career. He can pass block, and he can absolutely maul people in the run game.
Young linebackers Damone Clark and Markquese Bell have saved this defense by filling roles in the middle, especially after Leighton Vander Esch went down for the season. They are fast, active linebackers who can tackle. Finally, special teams returner and part-time receiver KaVontae Turpin is working his way into being a weapon on offense and not just special teams. He is so quick with the ball in his hands.
4. With the Seattle offense struggling so heavily against pressure this season, it won’t be a surprise to see DeMarcus Lawrence or Micah Parsons in the backfield going after Geno Smith, but the Cowboys have a third member of the defensive front who also has 5.0 sacks already this season. What do Seahawks fans need to know about Dorance Armstrong?
Dorance Armstrong is part of a wave of pass rushers that the Cowboys can throw at teams beyond just Lawrence and Parsons. That includes Sam Williams and Dante Fowler, too. The Cowboys defensive line is very deep. Armstrong isn’t one of those freak athletes like Parsons, but is technically sound and has a variety of tools in his pass rush. Sometimes you kind of forget he’s there then he puts a sack or pressure on the board. Dan Quinn lines these guys up everywhere on the line, so you can’t really key in on where they will be and set a protection for them. It is undoubtedly one of the best parts of the Cowboys roster. Armstrong isn’t flashy, but he just gets the job done.
5. What is your prediction for the outcome of the game, and will it be a high enough scoring affair that fans should bet the over (currently at 46.5 as of writing)?
The Cowboys have been on a scoring binge at home. They can drop 40 points on a team when they play at home, so betting the over is an enticing option. Everything statistically would say the Cowboys will win the game and they will score a lot of points along the way. Their defense is also very good, so it’s unlikely they will give up a ton of points. But basically, logic says take the over. But at some point the Cowboys offense has to encounter some kind of regression, and maybe this is the week. If I had to predict the score, I’d say Cowboys 31- Seahawks 17, just covering the over.