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Wild Card Preview: Seahawks at Cowboys Breakdown and Picks

Wild Card Preview: Seahawks at Cowboys Breakdown and Picks
Scott Engel Managing Director January 3, 2019 5:26PM EST

Matchup Analysis, Fantasy Picks and more for Seahawks-Cowboys

Both teams come in very hot here, with the Cowboys having won seven of their final eight regular season games and Seattle winning six of its final seven. Dallas has lost only one home game this year (to Tennessee) and the Seahawks are 4-4 on the road.

Dallas has a clear home field advantage but Seattle has a superior coach/quarterback combination. Pete Carroll has won nine of 14 playoff games as Seattle’s head coach since 2010 while Jason Garrett has only three playoff game appearances with one win during the same span. Carroll has won his last three against Garrett and is 4-2 overall vs. Dallas since he has been in Seattle, but he has lost four of six playoff games on the road with the Seahawks.

Wilson has won eight of 12 career playoff games but has lost three of five on the road. Carroll and Wilson won road Wild Card games in 2012 and 2015 and have won all three of their WC games together. What is most impressive about his 2018 season, though, is that he set career bests in TD passes (35) interceptions (seven) and QB rating (110.9) on just 427 attempts. He threw multiple TD passes in 13 of 16 games despite Seattle’s heavy commitment to the run. Dallas has allowed 22 TD passes, eighth in the league. If Seattle is to advance, Wilson will have to continue to complement the running game well with his precision downfield passing. The Cowboys registered only seven interceptions, the second-lowest total in the NFL, so a mistake-prone performance from Wilson appears to be unlikely.

Seattle has been able to impose its will on all opponents in terms of rushing, leading the league with 160 yards per game. Dallas ranked fifth against the run (94.6 YPG) so this will be strength vs. strength as he faces the young, swift Cowboys LB crew. Doug Baldwin caught three TD passes in Weeks 15 and 16 and has been banged up all year but seemed to be playing better down the stretch. He could be a big key to keeping the chains moving while Dallas will be very wary of Tyler Lockett (10 TD catches) as a big-play threat. The Cowboys do have top cover corner Byron Jones  to potentially take a chunk out of Seattle’s passing potential. David Moore, a bigger, fast target, may be up to the challenge against Dallas’ sizable corners and could be a surprise hero if Seattle prevails. Wilson has enjoyed improved pass protection this season but is still prone to sacks when his receivers struggle to get open. Seattle allowed 51 sacks this season, eighth in the league. DeMarcus Lawrence led Dallas with 10.5 sacks and the Seahawks seem most vulnerable on the right tackle side of their offensive line.

Dak Prescott, however, took an NFC-high 56 sacks this season, and must be as mobile and crisp as he was last week against the Giants to not get overwhelmed by a Seattle front that features DE Frank Clark (14 sacks) and DT Jarren Reed (10) as major forces. Prescott did register a career-best 3,885 passing yards this season and rushed for six TDs for the third consecutive year, so the Seahawks must be ready for him as a rusher inside the 10-yard line. His mobility could allow him to extend drives with key scrambles on important downs. He threw only eight interceptions this season, and Seattle ranked 18th with 12 pickoffs.

Amari Cooper has shined since becoming a Cowboy, with 53 catches for 725 yards and six TDs in nine games with Dallas this year. If the Cowboys can move him around and get him matched up against rookie CB Tre Flowers he’ll have some upside, but Seattle will be very focused on containing Cooper and even doubling him and allowing Prescott to try to beat them with his other targets. A nifty technician such as Cole Beasley could be productive against the Seattle Cover 3 shell and he could be an important performer for the Cowboys if they claim the victory.

Prescott will also continue to frequently utilize Ezekiel Elliott as a receiver, as he is coming off by far his best season as a pass-catcher  with 77 catches for 567 yards. The Seahawks allowed 906 receiving yards to running backs this season, the third-highest total in the league. They ranked 13th in rushing yards allowed per game, so Elliott has a path to controlling this game as a dual threat. Seattle has the premier LB in the game with Bobby Wagner, so that will be a top matchup to watch.

These teams met in Week 3 at Seattle, with the Seahawks winning 24-13. Prescott was held to 168 passing yards and was picked off twice. Elliott rushed for 127 yards. Wilson threw for 192 yards, two TDs and no interceptions and Carson carried 32 times for 102 yards. Lockett caught four passes for 77 yards and a TD. Cooper was not a Cowboy yet and Baldwin missed the game with a knee injury.

FANTASY TAKES: Elliott will have a heavy dual workload and is a great play in one-and-done Fantasy playoff formats. Cooper is boom-or-bust but could be a difference-maker in formats with multipliers if Dallas advances. Beasley is a sleeper for the first round. Neither QB has much statistical upside but bet on two passes from Wilson. Carson is a safe workhorse and should be solid through two rounds if Seattle advances. He could set you apart in some Fantasy Football playoff leagues if the Seahawks pull an upset after this week. Baldwin does not have much of a statistical ceiling here and Lockett may only catch only two or three passes even if he makes a big play. Blake Jarwin has two seven-catch games in his last four and is worth the gamble if you can’t roster an elite TE.

DFS VIEWS: Prescott is the lowest-priced QB on the FanDuel Saturday slate ($7,700) and could be a two-way threat worth considering if you roll out multiple lineups. Carson is $1,300 cheaper than Elliott. Cooper is an upside play at $6,700 and is cheaper than both Seattle WRs. In the full weekend slate on DraftKings, Prescott is the second-lowest priced starting QB at $5,500, and Wilson is only 200 more. I’d compile a few lineups with both at the lower rates. Elliott is the most expensive RB on the slate at $9,000, and Carson comes for 2,200 less. Lockett is only $5,300 on DK and Beasley is an outstanding value at $3,500. Moore is also 3,500 and could be a very interesting deep play that could pay off in a tournament.

GAME PREDICTION: I see both running backs having very productive days, as Elliott will seize the spotlight and Carson is so physical at the point of attack and is very tough to slow down even against the best defenders. Cooper may have a few sizable gains and Beasley will keep the ball moving as well. This one is so evenly matched, though, that it will come down to QB play in the clutch, and that is where Wilson will prevail. The Seahawks will cover (+1.5) and I’ll take the over (43.5). Seahawks 23, Cowboys 21.

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