Well, the time is finally here for the Dallas Cowboys. After a roller-coaster regular season of ups and downs, the playoffs are upon us. Dallas will begin their playoff run at home on Saturday night when they host the Seattle Seahawks. Dallas and Seattle have already met once this season with Seattle getting the win. However, that game was in Week 3 and both teams are different now than they were then. Dallas didn’t have Amari Cooper, and Seattle did have All-Pro safety Earl Thomas. Thomas had two interceptions in the game. That first meeting also took place in Seattle, this one will take place in Arlington. So how does Dallas turn the tables on Seattle this time around and get the victory? Here are my five keys to a Cowboys win.
1. Fast start
It is imperative that the Cowboys get out of the gate fast. They started slowly in Seattle and were down 17-3 at halftime. In the only other playoff game of the Dak and Zeke era, they got behind Green Bay 21-3. Dallas isn’t built to come back from big early deficits. They can’t win the game in the first quarter, but with a slow start, they could lose the game in the first quarter.
2. Get Amari Cooper going early
Dallas saved their season when they traded for Amari Cooper. He had a three-game stretch that began on Thanksgiving day where he was simply unstoppable. He had 26 catches for 473 yards and 5 touchdowns. However, in the final three games, Cooper had 13 catches for 83 yards and zero touchdowns. Dallas needs Cooper to have a huge game on Saturday and getting him involved early and often is the way to do that.
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3. Feed Zeke
Ezekiel Elliott had an incredible season. He carried Dallas for much of the year while winning his second rushing title in three years. Dallas elected to rest Zeke in the season finale against the Giants. He should be itching to get out there after the week off and should have an extra boost to his game early. Zeke needs to have a big game rushing and receiving if Dallas is going to get the win.
4. Pressure Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson is one of the most elusive Quarterbacks in the league but Dallas will need to find a way to get pressure on him. Dallas needs to figure out a way to make Wilson uncomfortable. Dallas needs to mix in some blitzes from time to time as well. If they give Wilson time he will pick the secondary apart.
5. Stop the run
In the past Seattle has relied heavily on Russell Wilson. This year they have relied much more on their running game. In the first matchup, Chris Carson carried the ball 32 times against Dallas for 102 yards and a touchdown. For the season Seattle leads the NFL in rushing yards. The Seahawks average 160 rushing yards per game. Dallas’ Defense allows 94 yards rushing per game. If Dallas holds Seattle under 100 yards rushing they will win the game. The Seattle Seahawks are a tough opponent and they likely won’t beat themselves, but if Dallas can do these five things they will have a great chance to get the victory and extend their season at least another week.