Thursday Night NFL Preview: Chasing Eagles, Dallas Looks to Take Down Seahawks
Unlike rapturous NFL Sundays so far in 2023, the Thursday Night Football menu this season has been stripped of quality matchups, thrilling finishes, and games flush with playoff meaning.
The Seahawks at Dallas game threatens to end that unfortunate pattern.
Also having played on Thanksgiving, the Seahawks are even with Dallas in terms of rest. But the Seahawks were manhandled at home by San Francisco in a key divisional NFC West matchup, and seem to be wobbling into the final third of the season.
Now they must go on the road to face a Cowboys team peaking at the right time. Dallas dispatched NFC East rival Washington on Thanksgiving as Dak Prescott continues his hot play. An important part of Prescott’s success over the past month is how well he's distributing the ball. Even with CeeDee Lamb cooling off over the past couple of weeks, other weapons on the Dallas offense are emerging and Prescott is utilizing them. Ten different Cowboy players caught a pass against the Commanders.
This week, the Cowboys’ offense faces a young secondary equally adept at making and giving up big plays. The Seattle defense was torched by the 49ers, due in large part to San Francisco effectively using play-action off its powerful running game. Dallas RB Tony Pollard rushed for 79 yards on Thanksgiving, in one of his more productive games of the year. For Seattle to avoid the same fate it ran into against SF, its run defense needs to step up. But how well Seattle pressures Prescott in obvious passing downs will be telling, too.
On the other side of the ball, Micah Parsons is peaking for the Dallas defense. The All-Pro DE recorded 1.5 sacks in each of the past two games, giving him 11.5 on the season. Seattle QB Geno Smith can put the ball up for grabs when pressured, so Seattle must figure out a way to block Parsons and the rest of the front seven.
Seattle’s running game, with Zach Charbonnet now taking the bulk of the carries away from Kenneth Walker Jr., needs to play a role in protecting Smith. The ‘Hawks’ running game is 26th in the NFL and is often missing in action against stronger defenses (e.g., 28 yards rushing against Baltimore), and Dallas certainly qualifies as such.
One compelling game-within-a-game scenario is when star cornerback DaRon Bland matches up against Seahawks’ star wideout D.K. Metcalf, whose bruising physicality Bland may be unaccustomed to. But if the Seattle OL is unable to give Smith protection, then "Doctor" Bland may be making another house call.
Dallas is playing too well of late. Seattle is not, but we think Pete Carroll will have his team, embarrassed by the loss to the Niners, ready to compete. Look for star defenders Jamal Adams and Bobby Wagner to have big games for Seattle. Homefield advantage may or may not be meaningful for the Cowboys; but at least they avoid playing this game in the cauldron of Seattle’s Lumen Field — and that’s a big factor in why Dallas comes out on top. Dallas 27, Seattle 21.