Well, here’s what i have:
1) Taking Advantage of Poor Offensive Lines: Similar to their previous opponents, both teams will be bringing mediocre offensive line units up against dangerous defensive fronts. Although not well known, the Seahawks bring a great combination of run stoutness and quarterback disruption to the table. Chris Clemons is a speed demon around the edge and will have the opportunity to take advantage of a still-transitioning Tyron Smith and a slower right tackle in Doug Free. Jason Jones will also provide a strong push up the middle while Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane are quite tough to run on. Flipping the script we’ll see a similar setup for Dallas with strong pass-rushing options in DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher along with Jay Ratliff at the nose if able to go (Appears Doubtful). Anthony Spencer and Marcus Spears will provide excellent run stuffing abilities. This group will try and continue to make life difficult for a struggling Seahawks O-Line with a shaky Russell Okung and a rookie RG in J.R. Sweezy who had an awful start to his career last week. Center Max Unger will need to continue his solid play in the middle to help settle things down for the Hawks.
2) Pre-Snap Challenges and the 12th Man: This potential advantage for Seattle warrants a separate analysis simply due to how impactful it can be to the Dallas offense regardless of line play. The Cowboys had four more offensive penalties than any other NFL team in Week 1, and while some un-disciplined false starts and slow-play calling contribute greatly, their hope is that Ryan Cook getting 10 days to work into his new role with Dallas will help alleviate much of their issues. Going into a stadium that once registered on the Richter Scale is going to test the unit all game long if fans continue to have something to cheer about.
3) Two Punishing Running Backs: Everyone knows now what Marshawn Lynch is capable of, and the Cowboys should certainly remember after giving up 120 yards to him in the previous year’s contest. A bruiser who can one-cut with the best of them, Lynch will have to be contained by on the edges by the Dallas OLB’s as well as Sean Lee and Bruce Carter between the hashes. DeMarco Murray is slowly establishing himself in the league after another strong finishing performance last week. Unlike the Giants however the Seahawks are much stingier against the run as evidenced by their humiliation of Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams in their first game. Cowboy HC Jason Garrett was wise enough against New York to allow the pass to establish the run instead of abandoning it all together. It’s entirely possible the same situation could occur in Seattle, albeit a tougher one to pull off.
4) Dallas Passing Attack Versus Formidable Seattle Secondary: Giants backup cornerbacks this Seahawk bunch is not. Most fans know of Earl Thomas, who from a coverage perspective is best suited with keeping up with Jason Witten. Kam Chancellor however has the size and pop to make receivers who try to work the middle pay for it. Either way Witten appears to be primed for a challenge while continuing to recover from his spleen injury. In addition to this, Seattle is coming to work with two underrated cornerbacks and an established one playing nickel. On the outside Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman are physical enough to play Miles Austin and Dez Bryant at the line as well as contest passes. Austin’s speed and Bryant’s body positioning are both good enough to beat virtually any corner, but execution will need to be precise. Although Kevin Ogletree is the Cowboy’s number three receiver, Austin did play some in the slot last week. This means that Ogletree will either spend some time against Seattle’s outside corners or their Nickel CB Marcus Trufant. Despite losing a step over time, Trufant can still play at a good level so Ogletree will have his work cut out for him.
5) Special Teams: On the plus side, Dallas does not give up big returns as often as people may think. What they are guilty of however are maddeningly dumb moments in other aspects of special teams. Blocked punts, missed assignments, kicker freezing, types of plays that are huge momentum shifters. Reference the Jets and Cardinals games from 2011 for proof. This weekend they face Leon Washington, who had big returns against Arizona and is always capable of a game changer. Young Dallas punter Chris Jones will need to build on his week 1 performance and kicker Dan Bailey may just want to boot his kickoffs as far as humanly possible. The Cowboys have no kick return game unless Felix Jones is cut or decides to be fast again. Dez Bryant returning punts is as risk/reward as they come, given his dynamic ability coupled with the chance of injury.