Game Preview - Seahawks vs. Cowboys

Dallas holds a 6-4 edge over the Seahawks in their all-time regular season series. Seattle has narrowed that over the last few seasons, winning three of the last four meetings. Thursday will also be the 3rd time the Seahawks will play the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. The teams have split the previous two meetings.

Injury Report

Seattle Seahawks

Out: G Mike Wahle (shoulder)
Doubtful: S C.J. Wallace (hamstring)
Questionable: DT Red Bryant (ankle), C Chris Spencer (back)
Probable: QB Matt Hasselbeck (back), WR Koren Robinson (knee)

Dallas Cowboys

Out: WR Miles Austin (knee), CB Mike Jenkins (hamstring), RB Felix Jones (toe), G Kyle Kosier (foot)
Questionable: TE Martellus Bennett (ankle), LB Justin Rogers (back), S Patrick Watkins (neck)

Stats & Rankings

Seattle Seahawks

Offense

Total: 31st (251.5 yards per game)
Passing: 31st (140.4 yards per game)
Rushing: 17th (111.1 yards per game)
Scoring: t-25th (18.8 points per game)

Defense

Total: 29th (381.2 yards per game)
Passing: 31st (259.2 yards per game)
Rushing: 22nd (122.0 yards per game)
Scoring: 26th (25.2 points per game)

Turnover Ratio: t-22nd (-4)

Dallas Cowboys

Offense

Total: 10th (348.2 yards per game)
Passing: 9th (236.1 yards per game)
Rushing: 16th (112.1 yards per game)
Scoring: 12th (24.1 points per game)

Defense

Total: 8th (294.5 yards per game)
Passing: 11th (196.2 yards per game)
Rushing: 10th (98.4 yards per game)
Scoring: 21st (22.8 points per game)

Turnover Ratio: 27th (-6)

Five Things to Watch

Here are five items to watch when the Seahawks visit Texas Stadium on Thursday:

Julius Jones Returns to Big D – Jones returns to Dallas with a chip the size of something you might see floating down Broadway during the Macy's parade on his shoulder. Jones is coming off a two-carry outing against the Washington Redskins, which left many questioning whether or not he was benched. Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren put those questions to bed by naming Jones the starter for the Cowboys game. After the way Jones exited Dallas after 2007, expect to see a very motivated Jones on Thursday.

Steve Vallos – Chris Spencer is questionable with a back injury, so second-year offensive lineman Steve Vallos could make his 1st career NFL start at center. Vallos saw extensive action at center during the pre-season, and played pretty well. Fortunately for Vallos, Dallas' starting nose tackle Jay Ratliff is 6-4 and weighs 298 pounds. That's significantly smaller than prototypical nose tackles like Shaun Rogers, Kris Jenkins or Vince Wilfork, who tip the scales at nearly 350 pounds.

Walter Jones vs. DeMarcus Ware – Put this one in the "Fun to Watch" category. There aren't many left tackles in the NFL better than Walter Jones, and there are few pass rushers in the NFL as consistent as DeMarcus Ware. In 11 games this season, Ware has at least 1 sack in 10 of them. Jones has had a very solid season himself. He did an excellent job against Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter earlier this month, and last week, he tossed Redskins defensive end Andre Carter around like a rag doll. Laying off the turkey, and it's nap-inducing tryptophan, would be worth it to make sure you don't miss a play in this battle.

Get Your Popcorn Ready – Dallas boasts the NFL's 9th-ranked pass offense, which could have a field day against the Seahawks' 31st-ranked pass defense. Williams (9 catches, 110 yards, 1 TD in 4 games) hasn't been real involved in the Cowboys offense since being acquired from Detroit, but Owens is coming off his first 200-yard receiving day since 2000. The last time the Seahawks' secondary faced a pair of receivers with this much size and talent (11/16 vs. Arizona) both receivers had over 150 yards.

Handling the Short Week – Both teams had just three days to prepare for today's Thanksgiving Day game, with Dallas having the added benefit of not having to spend one of those days traveling. The team that better handles the short week of preparation, and more importantly the short week of rest, should come out victorious.

Programming Notes

FOX's "A" team will be working on Thanksgiving. Joe Buck will handle the play-by-play, with the always brilliant Troy Aikman providing the analysis. Pam Oliver will work the sidelines.

Prediction

No aspect of today's works in the Seahawks favor. Players who would normally be practicing for the first time in a regular work week (Matt Hasselbeck, Walter Jones, Koren Robinson), are being asked to go out and play a game. Seattle's also playing on the road against a good team. Even during good years, winning a game like this would be a small miracle. The Cowboys have won 25 of 40 Thanksgiving Day games. They know how to handle games like this, and because of that, I think they'll get Thanksgiving Day win #26.

Prediction: Cowboys 34, Seahawks 23


Brian McIntyre lives in the Boston area. In addition to writing for Seahawks.Net, Brian maintains his own blog (www.macsfootballblog.com) and charts games for Football Outsiders. If you'd like to e-mail Brian, you may do so here.


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