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Week 8 Preview: Seahawks at Cowboys

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Seattle Seahawks (3-4) at Dallas Cowboys (2-4)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas – TV: FOX

*TV announcers: Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman, Peter Schrager

*Keys to the game: To put the struggles of the Seahawks’ offensive line in perspective, QB Russell Wilson – known as one of the most elusive players in the NFL – has been sacked 31 times through seven games. That’s six more (19 percent) than any quarterback. The good news is RB Marshawn Lynch is finally fully recovered from a hamstring injury and showed his old form in rushing for 122 yards against San Francisco in Week 7. Wilson is also developing chemistry with TE Jimmy Graham, particularly on the move, and it’s the big completions on busted plays that must concern Dallas the most.

Well, at least defensively. Offensively, there is plenty to be concerned about until QB Tony Romo returns next month. Matt Cassel took the reins and threw three picks in the second half of last week’s winnable game against the Giants. RB Darren McFadden is coming off a 29-carry performance and the Cowboys now have four running backs in the mix – including former Seahawks second-round pick Christine Michael. Dallas had a 41-27 run-pass ratio last week and will again attempt to establish the ground game against Seattle’s sixth-ranked run defense in an effort to set Cassel up in manageable situations.

*Matchup to watch – Seahawks LT Russell Okung vs. Cowboys RDE Greg Hardy: Hardy has made headlines for mostly the wrong reasons since making his Cowboys debut in Week 5, but he has also been very effective on the field with three sacks in two games. Dallas is second in the NFL with sacks on 12 percent of QB drop-backs in games he has played. Okung must hold up on his own against Hardy due to the struggles across the rest of the line.

*Player spotlight – Cowboys WR Dez Bryant: The All-Pro returned to practice mid-week and the team hopes he can play for the first time since breaking his foot in the opener. If he does, the Seahawks may shadow Bryant with Richard Sherman similar to an in-game switch they made against the Bengals’ A.J. Green.

*Fast facts: Seahawks WR Ricardo Lockette is the first rookie in NFL history with a receiving touchdown, punt return touchdown and a 100-plys-yard kickoff return touchdown through his first seven games. … Cassel is 2-0 in his career as a starter against Seattle. … Hardy has 12 sacks in his past six games.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

Anything could happen between two talented but disappointing teams who opened the season as NFC title contenders but now face each other with Super Bowl aspirations close to being on life support. Slight edge goes to the Seahawks with a play-making quarterback and three days of rest from a Thursday night thrashing of the 49ers that instilled some confidence.

*Our pick: Seahawks 20-17.


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