Cowboys Countdown: Top 10 Storylines For Seahawks Visit ... By The Numbers:
10 -- Dallas' place league-wide for most sacks from Weeks Five to Seven. Since defensive end Greg Hardy's return, the Cowboys have amassed seven sacks. Remember that Dallas had a bye week in Week Six, so even if they had their new average of 3.5 sacks post-Hardy, the total would be 10.5, tied for second-most.
Sitting on top would be the Seahawks with 13.
Hardy's positive influence is why Jerry and Stephen Jones are both on record as wishing to retain the controversial pass-rusher Hardy. ... even as Fish points out that it might be a "longshot'' to do so.
9 -- The number of offensive holding penalties Seattle and Dallas have, tied with seven other teams for 13th-most in the NFL. Last year, Dallas had 27, the most league-wide while Seattle had 20, tied with Minnesota for the 15th-fewest. Referee Carl Cheffers doesn't put up with much holding, averaging 3.8 offensive holding penalties per game, the seventh-highest among active referees this season.
8 -- The number of games Jason Witten has played against Seattle. In eight games against the Seahawks, Witten has a 5-3 record, including playoffs. One of his top-10 best games happened on Nov. 27, 2008 when Dallas hosted Seattle for Thanksgiving. Witten caught nine passes for 115 yards and a touchdown in the Cowboys' 34-9 victory.
Meanwhile, Witten takes on a load in another area ...
'We've done a good job as leaders,'' Witten said this week when addressing "The Randle Scandal'' and the numerous sidebar issues that chase this team's chase of not being 2-4 anymore. "It's a close group that works hard at it. Things come up in the course of a season. You gotta stay together.''
More on a certain RB situation next ...
7 -- The Cowboys' league rank in yards per attempt with 4.5. Despite having a bureaucracy at running back and the offensive line playing below its lofty standards, somehow Dallas has averaged nearly five yards a carry in 2015. Running back Darren McFadden carried the ball 29 times for 152 yards and a touchdown last week in New York, who also had a stout run defense. Dallas will need a similar effort from McFadden and maybe ex-Seahawk Christine Michael if they are to improve to 3-4.
6 -- The number of sacks the Seahawks have given up in one game. It has happened twice this season: Week One against the Rams and then Week Four against Detroit on Monday Night Football. The last time Dallas had six sacks in a game was Sept. 22, 2013 against the Rams, although they did sack Tom Brady five times in Greg Hardy's Cowboys debut on Oct. 11 this year.
There are some issues with health and talent in the Seattle O-line. The Cowboys want to make sure Russell Wilson isn't able to step up and is somehow contained from throwing on the run. Rookie rusher Randy Gregory might be a big contain/pressure help here. ... and another rookie, Byron Jones, must live up to the responsibility of shadowing big tight end Jimmy Graham.
5 -- The jersey number of Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey. Bailey is 10/10 on field goals through six games, his best start to a season in his five-year career. Bailey is 6/6 against Seattle through three games kicked against them, though it does bear mentioning that in the Sept. 16, 2012 game at CenturyLink Field, Dallas didn't even attempt a field goal.
4 -- Marshawn Lynch's career yards per carry. The number is actually 4.3. In 2015, Lynch has only been able to average 3.7 yards per carry. Last week against San Francisco, Lynch had a 4.5 yards per carry, appearing to regain his strength as one of the league's best rushers. Against the Cowboys, Lynch has a lifetime 4.9 yards per carry. His best against Dallas was 6.1 last year, but it came in a 30-23 loss.
Said Sean Lee in this Cowboys Q-and-A:
"They want to run the football. They want to run it with him. And he’s a great running back. Physical, great ability to cut and make plays. That’s another aspect we’re going to have to stop. Combined (with Russell Wilson), it’s really, really tough."
3 -- The rank of Seattle's defense in terms of total yards. Kam Chancellor may have held out, the Legion of Boom may be 3-4, but as Sean Lee once told me: "There are no bad teams, just bad records." The Seahawks give up 294.1 yards per game. Certainly, that is 30 yards more than the 2014 defense and 20 yards more than the 2013 defense gave up, but still better than the 2012 defense (306.1).
Yards still are hard-earned against Seattle.
2 -- The number of pick-sixes Seattle linebacker Bruce Irvin has in his career. Cowboys quarterback Matt Cassel threw one last week to Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and he better watch out again this week. Irvin only has one turnover to his credit: a fumble recovery against the Rams on Opening Day. Irvin has also been adding to the Seahawks pass rush with 3.5 sacks this season.
Cassel is the QB today. But Romo can start being the QB again pretty soon ...
1 -- The number of sacks Greg Hardy has against the Seahawks, which came against Russell Wilson on Oct. 7, 2012 in Carolina's 16-12 loss at home. Hardy has also notched 12 tackles against Seattle in his three career games against them, all with Carolina and compiling an 0-3 record. Hardy's teams are 16-10 when he gets a sack compared to 11-29 when he does not.
Hardy pressuring Wilson is an essential ingredient to a Dallas win. In fact, that's the case across the board for the Cowboys defensive front.
“He’s got great instincts for the game, a great feel for the game. We obviously want to try to contain him as best we can,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said of Wilson. “He adds so much to their offense because of his ability to run that offense, the different things they ask him to do, but also when he gets out of the pocket and creates. It’s the same issue that each of the teams that face him every week go through. You just want to minimize his ability to make big plays both from the pocket and once he escapes.”