I don't think anyone anticipated that this matchup, this far into the season, would be one of two teams that are both below .500, but here we are. While Dallas is struggling to find their identity sans Romo and Bryant, the Seahawks have had an entirely different set of circumstances. After last Thursday's win, can you confidently proclaim that "The Hawks are back"?
Optimism is certainly higher after last week's victory in San Francisco -- the Seahawks most thoroughly dominant performance of the year -- but it is important to keep in mind that Seattle's three wins have come over opponents with a combined record of 5-15.
The return of Marshawn Lynch has given the Seahawks their identity back. His powerful running masks Seattle's relative inexperience along the offensive line and is likely to create better opportunities down the road for Jimmy Graham.
Defensively, Seattle isn't as sharp in the secondary but is getting more pressure on quarterbacks. The special teams play has been brilliant with rookie Tyler Lockett taking both a punt and kick back for touchdowns already and both punter Jon Ryan and placekicker Steven Hauschka enjoying Pro Bowl caliber seasons, thus far.
Russell Wilson has been sacked a league-high 31 times through 7 games, which bodes well for Dallas' recently discovered pass rush. Is the offensive line play eroded that badly in pass protection or does a lot of the blame go on Wilson?
Frankly, there is plenty of blame to go around. With three new starters on the offensive line, the Seahawks knew there would be some growing pains and each of those players have struggled, at times. Former right tackle turned left guard Justin Britt has predictably been a bit vulnerable to initial quickness. Former tight end turned right tackle Garry Gilliam doesn't currently possess ideal strength. Former defensive tackle turned center Drew Nowak is powerful and tough but is still learning to read blitzes and communicate quickly to his linemates the adjustments needed to deal with them.
Perhaps partially due to the obscured vision that comes with his height behind an offensive line that averages 6-4, 310 pounds, Wilson does often resort to second and third reads or scrambling. The extra time Wilson takes does put significantly more pressure on his linemen and has inflated the Seahawks sack numbers.
Dallas gave up a back-breaking kickoff return to former Cowboy Dwayne Harris last week, and their kick coverage has been suspect at best when giving a returner a chance to advance the ball. What has Tyler Lockett brought to the table for Seattle?
Lockett has been the big play waiting to happen that the Seahawks thought they were getting with Percy Harvin a few years ago... and more. While possessing a slight frame, Lockett is aggressive in running through traffic and he possesses a remarkable combination of vision, agility and acceleration. He sets up his blocks well and has the speed to outrun pursuit angles.
The surprise has been Lockett's effectiveness as a receiver. He was terrific at Kansas State, leaving as the school's all-time leading receiver, but few anticipated that he'd soon quickly develop an early rapport with Wilson, including on third down.
Dallas is very familiar with Cary Williams from his NFC East days. In preparation for Dez Bryant's likely return in some fashion, what's the current state of the Seattle secondary. Is the Legion of Boom still achieving previous levels of dominance?
Richard Sherman has shadowed receivers more this season than in the past so if Bryant plays, we'll likely get treated to a thrilling one-on-one matchup between two All-Pros.
Williams possesses the length and fluidity Seattle loves at cornerback and he's played very well, at times. He has been caught out of position on other occasions. He's not as physical as former Legion of Boom stars Brandon Browner or Byron Maxwell but with the physicality of Kam Chancellor and speed of Earl Thomas, Williams is arguably putting forth a better 2015 than either of his predecessors with their new clubs.
We know the major names; Wilson, Lynch, Graham, Avril, Bennett and the DBs. Give our readers a few names that they might not be familiar with now, but they will be once the final whistle blows on Sunday evening.
As mentioned previously, Lockett is a player to know. Given that Dallas is likely to run the football often in this game, Pro Bowl middle linebacker Bobby Wagner should play a key role. Perhaps the most underrated player on Seattle's defense is outside linebacker K.J. Wright, whose length, fluidity and instincts make him the Seahawks best linebacker in coverage.