The opening round of the 2018 NFL Playoffs kicks off on Saturday with a dynamic double header wrapping up with a key NFC showdown at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The NFC East champs the Dallas Cowboys welcome the Seattle Seahawks in a Wild Card weekend rematch of their week 3 matchup. Now the Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott will look to respond while Russell Wilson and company will look to pick up a second win against the same team to move on to the division round of the 2017 NFL Playoffs.
In that contest the Seahawks dominated nearly every aspect of the contest on both sides of the ball in route to a 24-13 win. While that contest was at Century Link Field where the Seahawks continue to dominate, the overall performance of the Seahawks has many fans and sports handicappers wondering if the Cowboys have enough to pick up this win at home. Since that meeting two things have changed, Dak Prescott has played much better at quarterback and the Seahawks will be without Earl Thomas.
For Prescott, in the loss the Cowboys quarterback struggled completing just 19 of 34 passes for 168 yards while throwing just one touchdown to two interceptions. Both of those interceptions were recorded by Thomas. Thomas who was key to the success of the Seahawks in this contest, suffered a season ending injury a week later against the Arizona Cardinals. While Prescott struggled, Elliott added 127 yards on the ground but also lost a key fumble. In the win, Russell Wilson threw 192 yards with two touchdowns while Chris Carson added 102 yards and a touchdown.
Here are the keys to the game for both the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys on Saturday January 5th, 2019 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
NFL Keys to the Game
Seattle Seahawks – Shut down Ezekiel Elliott
After a dominating win against the Dallas Cowboys back in Week 3, the Seahawks focus leading into their Wild Card weekend showdown should be in shutting down the Cowboys running attack led by Elliott. Despite allowing 166 rushing yards in the Week 3 matchup, the Seahawks found a way to win due to three costly turnovers. This time around, the Seahawks should look to shut down Elliott as well as the Cowboys entire rushing attack while forcing Prescott to beat you with his arm something he has struggled to do at times over his young NFL career.
Dallas Cowboys – Protect the Football
For the Cowboys the success on Saturday will come down to how well the team protects the ball. In their first meeting the Cowboys turned the ball over three times compared to the zero turnovers the Seahawks committed. While the turnovers led to zero points for the Seahawks, the Cowboys were on the Seahawks side of the field on two of the three drivers prior including being inside the red zone. Both drivers prior to the turnover were over 50 yards with the team moving the ball. In order to win this game, the Cowboys must protect the football while allowing them to capitalize both in the time of possession as well as putting points on the scoreboard.
NFL Betting Trends
Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks enter this contest as a solid pick for any sports fan or sports handicapper despite playing on the road. Entering this contest, the Seahawks posted an impressive 11-5 mark against the spread this season including covering the spread in seven of their last ten contests to finish the season. Along with that success the team has covered the spread in three of their last five contests against teams with a winning home record. Despite all that success the team struggled on the road this season covering the spread in just four of eight road contests. The team has also struggled in the playoffs and January covering the spread in just one of the last six contests.
Dallas Cowboys – After a disappointing 2017 NFL schedule, the Cowboys responded during the 2018 NFL season winning 10 of 16 contests to win the NFC East title. Along the way, the Cowboys posted a 9-7 record against the spread including covering in six of their final ten contests. The Cowboys also dominated at home this season winning seven of eight contests at AT&T stadium while covering the spread in five of those matchups. The success doesn’t stop there as they have covered the spread in five of their last six contests following a team win. Much like the Seahawks though the Cowboys have struggled in the playoffs failing to cover the spread in five of the last six January Playoff games as well as in six of their last eight overall playoff contests.
Head 2 Head – The series has been one sided with the Seahawks winning four of their last five overall meetings. Despite the head to head results, the underdog has dominated the head to head meetings covering the spread in five of their last six overall meetings dating back to the 2011 NFL Season.