The Seattle Seahawks are on the road to take on the Dallas Cowboys this weekend. This is a crucial game for Seattle. They must pick up a win to keep their playoff aspirations alive. A loss to a Tony Romo-less Dallas team would drop the Seahawks to 3-5, and signal that they are no long a contender this season.
With that in mind, there are five matchups that will ultimately determine the outcome. If the Seahawks win those matchups, they’ll win the game. If they lose them, coming home with a win will be extremely difficult.
KJ Wright vs. Jason Witten
The biggest weakness Seattle’s defense has had this year has been in covering tight ends. The Cowboys have one of the best from the last decade in Jason Witten. Witten is a receiving threat that has the potential to give the Seahawks a lot of problems.
The Seahawks will use a variety of coverages to try and stop Witten. The bulk of the responsibility though will land on outside linebacker KJ Wright.
Wright is a long and rangy linebacker that has been great in coverage throughout his entire career. He was the key component when the Seahawks were able to shut down Jimmy Graham and other TEs in past seasons.
For a number of reasons, Wright has not been as effective in that role this season. Part of it was the lack of Kam Chancellor for the opening two games of the year. Wright playing out of position at MLB for one game didn’t help either.
The Seahawks and Wright were able to shut down Vernon Davis last week. While he’s clearly not at the same level as Witten, that is still a sign that Seattle is starting to get this figured out.
Witten presents a definite challenge for Seattle’s defense. If the Seahawks can shut him down, it’ll signal that they are finally back to playing defense like the did last season.
Russell Okung/Alvin Bailey vs. Greg Hardy
It is no secret that Seattle’s pass protection has been poor this season. Now left tackle Russell Okung is hurt. He’ll either play on an injured ankle or be replaced by backup Alvin Bailey. Either way it’ll bad news for quarterback Russell Wilson.
This situation looks even worse when you realize that the rushing on that side of the line will be defensive end Greg Hardy. Hardy is a dominant pass rusher, which is why he’s been able to continue to find employment in the NFL despite the fact that he’s an awful human being.
Seattle must find a way to slow down Hardy. If they can do that with whoever plays LT that’ll be outstanding, but that is probably an unreasonable thing to ask. If those guys cannot get it done, then the Seahawks will need to provide help with a back or TE to make sure the Wilson survives the game.
Next: The other 3 matchups are on page 2!