Seahawks vs Cowboys: 5 matchups to watch

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Oct 11, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Richard Sherman vs. Dez Bryant

The Seahawks have changed their defensive philosophy a bit in the last couple of weeks. After years of leaving Richard Sherman on one side of the field, they’re now asking him to shadow certain receivers.

That will almost certainly be the case this week if Dez Bryant plays for the Cowboys. Bryant is questionable for the game as he recovers from surgery. He broke his foot back in Week 1, and the receiver hasn’t played since then. He is optimistic that he’ll be able to play on Sunday.

The Cowboys are still without quarterback Tony Romo, but nothing can make an awful quarterback look competent like a good offensive line and a dominant receiver. Dallas has the offensive line, and now Matt Cassel will have Dez Bryant as well.

It’ll be up to Richard Sherman to erase Bryant from the stat sheet. If Sherman can do that, Dallas will struggle to score points.

Marshawn Lynch vs. Sean Lee

Because of Seattle’s difficulties in pass blocking, the Seahawks must establish the run. They Cowboys are built to rush the passer and lack true run stuffers in their front seven. One one exception is middle linebacker Sean Lee.

Lee is one of those players who cleans up mistakes made by his teammates. He has a knack for finding the ball carrier in the hole and making a sure tackle.

The Seahawks counter Lee with one of the toughest RBs to tackle in the entire NFL. Marshawn Lynch’s combination of power and agility makes him one of the best RBs in the league, and gives him the ability to break tackles with authority.

Seattle’s ability to establish run and dominate on the ground will likely depend on Lynch’s ability to make Lee miss near the line of scrimmage. If Lynch can win that battle, it’ll make things much easier on Seattle’s offense.

Next: 3 things we must see from Seattle against Dallas

Michael Bennett vs. Doug Free

Dallas has a great offensive line, but the weakest link is right tackle Doug Free. Free isn’t a bad player by any means. He can still hold his own in pass protection, but he isn’t as dominant as many of the other guys on that line.

Seattle’s Michael Bennett will line up against Free for most of the game. The versatile and dominant pass rusher currently leads the entire NFL in sacks.

If the Seahawks can get pressure on Matt Cassel, he’s bound to turn the ball over. The problem will be getting consistent pressure against Dallas’ offensive line. If the Seahawks are going to do that, it’ll have to come from Bennett against Free most of the time.

If the Seahawks can pressure Cassel regularly, it’ll be a long game for Dallas offense.