Even since I took over 12th Man Rising, I’ve been looking for a creative and fun way to go predictions and that isn’t being done by every other site on the net. I’m still looking, but for the next few weeks I’m going to try out using the advanced stats from Pro Football Focus to detail out how the teams stack up and thus some of what we can expect.
This week, I’m stuck with just one week’s worth of data, so small sample size problems cloud the outcome. It was still fun to look at, and I hope you enjoy it and get a feeling for what will come over the next few weeks once the data gets more complete.
When Seattle Has The Ball
The Seahawks offense had the 2nd worst rated performance last week at -25.9. (Cardinals were the worst at -30.4) The Dallas defense on the other hand was better at +5.5. This suggests that the Seahawks are likely to struggle to move the ball at times, since the Dallas D is better than the Seahawks O.
Breaking it down further though gives some hope to Seahawk fans. The bulk of that negative rating came from one player, guard JR Sweezy, who scored a -7.5. Sweezy likely wont be playing this week with the return of starter John Moffitt, which should provide a nice lift to the Seahawk offensive line.
The strength of the Cowboy defense was in just 2 players, RE Jason Hatcher and ROLB DeMarcus Ware, who both scored a +3.5 last week. They will run into the strongest part of the Seahawks, in Paul McQuistan and Russell Okung (assuming he plays). This should hopefully nullify some of what is the strongest part of the Dallas defense.
You might have noticed that, other than Hatcher and Ware, the rest of the Dallas defense had a net negative day last week. This is especially true of the secondary. If the Seahawks can find a way to slow down the right side of that defense, the Seahawks should be able to find some success offensively.
Make no mistake, even with that Dallas will still have the advantage here. It will be up to Russell Wilson to make turn a few broken plays into positive yards if the Seahawks are going to win.
When Dallas Has The Ball
Overall, the Seahawks Defense had the best performance of any team last week with a +30.7. (Second best was the Browns at +23.8). The Dallas offense on the other hand, ended up on the negative side of the ledger with a -3.2. This suggests that the Seahawks defense should have huge advantage in this phase of the game.
It’s tough to find an area when Dallas has the ball that doesn’t favor the Seahawks. The Dallas offensive line is a collection of mostly negative scores vs the Seahawks defensive line that was the best in the NFL last week looks a big matchup problem for the Cowboys.
The receivers vs the Seahawks secondary is another major problem for the Cowboys. The one problem for the Seahawks is Tony Romo. Good, smart QB play can go a long way to negate defensive advantages.
The special teams performances last week are fairly comparable. Dallas was slightly better overall. They didn’t have the big returns that Leon Washington gave the Seahawks, but they also didn’t give up a blocked field goal either. The numbers are close enough to call it a wash.
Obviously, the data suggest a low scoring and ugly game. Both offenses will struggle. It will come down to which QB can make adjustments and make something happen. With that being the base, I have a hard time choosing a rookie coming off a game in which he struggled over a guy like Romo.
Cowboys 16 – 13 Seahawks.