Even more reason for the Seahawks to run Marshawn Lynch: Left tackle Russell Okung is inactive for today’s game at Dallas because of the ankle he sprained in practice Thursday. Alvin Bailey starts -- and Dallas pass rusher Greg Hardy will be targeting him all day. That’s the Seahawks’ biggest concern before kickoff. Seattle will need to help Bailey with backs and tight ends blocking. Or it just needs to give the ball to 24 more.
Dez Bryant is active for the Cowboys, for the first time since the All-Pro wide receiver broke a bone in his foot in the opener. Plan-C quarterback Matt Cassel will be throwing to him, and Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman is likely to be following him all over the field.
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Here is my game advance from today’s News Tribune.
And my keys to the game, key players and the pick. If the Seahawks are on their business, they should win this almost comfortably. Dallas is in disarray.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (3-4) at DALLAS COWBOYS (2-4)
Sunday, 1:25 p.m., AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
TV: Channel 13 Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM
Live chat: thenewstribune.com/sports, 12:40 p.m.
Line: Seahawks by 6.
The series: Dallas leads the regular-season series 10-5, including six wins in eight games in Texas plus last season’s upset win in Seattle 12 months ago. The Cowboys haven’t lost to the Seahawks at home in 13 years, since Oct. 27, 2002. Shaun Alexander and Emmitt Smith traded fourth-quarter touchdown runs before Rian Lindell’s 20-yard field goal with 25 seconds left won it that day for the Seahawks. Seattle has won the only postseason meeting, in January 2007 when Tony Romo dropped a hold on a try for the game-winning field goal.
SEATTLE’S KEYS TO VICTORY
Capitalize on all this: The Seahawks are finally feeling whole on defense, with even reserve DT Jordan Hill expected back from injury. This first day of November begins a month in which the Seahawks play a team that’s been a mess through four straight losses. They then have their bye and three home games. If the offense can even be semi-productive over the next four weeks, Seattle should be 7-4 entering December. If not, this championship-minded team will have only itself to blame.
Sherman vs. Bryant: It’s as star-powered a faceoff as the Seahawks will have this season. Their All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman opposite Dallas All-Pro wide receiver Dez Bryant, who is expected back from a foot injury for his first action in six games. Last season in Seattle an injury to then-Seahawks CB Byron Maxwell put Sherman of Bryant for 48 snaps, six targets and two catches. This expected showdown will be the best game within this game. But beware: It would leave Terrance Williams on Seattle’s up-and-down CB Cary Williams.
Handle the blitz: Dallas doesn’t do it much; Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable says the Cowboys pick their spots. Oh, yeah, this is a spot they will choose. Seattle’s line with starters in three new positions has allowed an NFL-high 31 sacks. Each foe has been sending everybody except the equipment guy at Russell Wilson, who’s been running for his well-being if not yards, avoiding at least a half-dozen sacks each week. There has to a game the Seahawks begin solving what they know is coming – doesn’t there?
The pick: Seahawks 16-9. The offense will run Marshawn Lynch just well enough to overcome its ongoing issues in pass protection. The defense will make Matt Cassel wish he was Pete Carroll’s backup at USC again. Just can’t see Seattle getting beaten by a third-string QB that wasn’t even with Dallas when this season began.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
25 Richard Sherman CB 6-3 195 fifth
Brighter the lights, bigger he usually plays –and talks. They will be glaring if he shadows Dez Bryant.
72 Michael Bennett DE 6-4 274 seventh
NFC’s defensive player of the week after 3½ sacks at SF chases not-exactly-fleet, fill-in QB Matt Cassel
24 Marshawn Lynch RB 5-11 215 ninth
1 yard from 9,000 career rushing yards. 41 yards from 11,000 total yards from scrimmage.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
88 Dez Bryant WR 6-2 220 sixth
Expected return of its best player is Dallas’ best chance to stem its disarray
20 Darren McFadden RB 6-1 220 eighth
Was last week’s 152 yards at NYG a return to prominence? Or an Oakland flashback/mirage?
76 Greg Hardy DE 6-5 279 fifth
Perhaps he shouldn’t be on any field, but he is—and will attack SEA’s biggest weakness, pass pro