NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys
It's probably not breaking news to you that the NFL is a passing league these days. Just five teams attempted fewer than 500 passes this season: Buffalo (499), Arizona (495), Miami (455), Tennessee (437) and Seattle (427). The first four all missed the playoffs.
While most NFL playoff games will likely be won by the team that throws for the most yards, it's probable the club that runs for the most yards Saturday night in Dallas wins between the Seahawks and Cowboys.
Neither Seattle nor Dallas was a playoff team last year, with both finishing at 9-7. The Cowboys were eliminated from 2017 wild-card contention with a 21-12 Week 16 home loss to Seattle despite the Seahawks having just 136 total yards. While that victory kept the Hawks' playoff hopes alive, they didn't get the result they needed in Week 17 to extend their postseason streak to six straight years.
Saturday is the first postseason meeting between these teams since a Jan. 6, 2007, wild-card game in Seattle. It looked like Dallas was going to win on a field goal with just over a minute left, but Tony Romo bobbled the snap and was stopped just short of the goal line on a desperation lunge. Seattle escaped 21-20 but would lose the next week in Chicago. I'm bummed this game is on Fox instead of CBS because I'd love to hear Romo the announcer's take on that.
Seahawks at Cowboys Betting Story Lines
Coach Pete Carroll still has one of the NFL's best quarterbacks in Russell Wilson, and he set a career high with 35 passing TDs this season. However, Carroll remade his offense this season to feature a heavy running attack behind a three-headed tailback rotation of Chris Carson, rookie Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis. Just Baltimore (547) had more running attempts than Seattle (534), and the Ravens only passed the Seahawks at the end when they changed their style to suit Lamar Jackson. Seattle led the league in rushing yards (2,560).
On the flip side, history has shown that the Cowboys are almost surely going to win whenever Ezekiel Elliott rushes for at least 100 yards or gets a minimum of 28 touches between carries and receptions. Elliott led the NFL in rushing (1,434) for the second time in his three seasons despite sitting Week 17. Elliott had five games this year with at least 28 touches, and the Cowboys beat the Lions, Falcons, Redskins, Saints and Eagles.
Elliott had seven 100-yard games and Dallas was 6-1. That loss was Week 3 in Seattle, 24-13, when Elliott had 127 yards on 16 carries but was a non-factor in the passing game. I don't take too much from that game because the Seahawks were desperate at 0-2 and the Cowboys hadn't yet traded for No. 1 receiver Amari Cooper. Plus, Seattle had star safety Earl Thomas then - he had two interceptions of Dak Prescott - but doesn't now due to a broken leg.
For what it's worth, the Cowboys ranked fifth in the NFL this season in rushing yards allowed and Seattle 13th. Both defenses generally played much, much better at home.
The winner of this one goes to New Orleans for the Divisional Round unless Philadelphia upsets the Bears on Sunday. If so, the winner goes to the Rams.
Seahawks at Cowboys Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , the game is a pick'em with a total of 43.5 . On the moneyline, Dallas is -123 and Seattle +103. Among the alternate lines: Cowboys -3.5 (+150), -7.5 (+247), Seahawks -3 (+150), -3.5 (+165). The Seahawks were 9-5-2 against the spread this season (4-3-1 on road) and 9-7 "over/under" (4-4 on road). The Cowboys were 9-7 ATS (5-3 at home) and 7-9 O/U (5-3 at home).
Seattle is 5-1 ATS in its past six vs. teams with a winning record. It is 4-1 ATS in its past five wild-card games. Dallas is 6-1 ATS in its past seven vs. the NFC. It is 1-4 ATS in its past five home playoff games. The over is 7-1 in the Seahawks' past eight. The under is 7-2 in the Cowboys' past nine vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings and the underdog is 5-1 ATS in those.
Seahawks at Cowboys Betting Prediction
I'll be taking the home team in three of the four games this weekend because that's the simplest way to bet when most everything else is equal. I give the Seahawks the edge at quarterback with Wilson over Prescott (0-1 in playoff career), and that's usually the trump card, but I think Dallas is better everywhere else - at least at home. Plus, the Seahawks are just 2-4 in road playoff games under Carroll (6-0 at home).
For Jason Garrett's sake, he better win because another one-and-done at home probably ends his coaching tenure in Big D. Go Cowboys on the moneyline and the under.
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