With all kinds of playoff scenarios on the table, the Dallas Cowboys (8-6) and Seattle Seahawks (8-6) have a crucial meeting on Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
Heading into the game, both teams are on the outside looking in.
A win won’t cure everything, but it keeps the winner in the conversation. A loss will likely end all realistic hope, moreso for the Cowboys than the Seahawks.
Here are five storylines to watch:
The Seahawks had their worst performance of the season Sunday, getting pounded at home by the Los Angeles Rams 42-7. Russell Wilson had more incomplete passes than completions (14 of 30 for 142 yards with one touchdown) and was sacked seven times. Seattle finished with 149 yards of total offense, its fewest of the season by nearly 100 yards.
Doug Baldwin is among the better receivers in the game and is having a solid season. But he is coming off one of the worst games in his career, hauling in one catch for 6 yards against the Rams. Baldwin has been hit and miss for the Seahawks, as he has just two 100-yard receiving games. Still, he’s the Seahawks’ biggest threat with 866 receiving yards and five touchdowns. In the red zone, Jimmy Graham is the go-to receiver as he has a team-leading nine touchdowns.
The Seahawks’ defense has been hit with injuries. Standout starters such as Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril are on injured reserve. Seattle is far from its “Legion of Boom” dominance. The Seahawks rank 15th in total defense and have given up more than 350 yards the past three games. They gave up 509 yards of total offense to the Houston Texans in Week 8. This defense is not what it’s been in recent years.
The Seahawks have plenty of players whose names should ring a bell with the locals. In fact, two of their starting offensive linemen are from Texas A&M. Arlington’s Luke Joeckel is trying to resurrect his career at left guard, and Germain Ifedi is playing right tackle. On defense, the Seahawks boast former Texas A&M standout Michael Bennett (who has 7.5 sacks) and former Texas safety Earl Thomas (who has two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown). Guard Rees Odhiambo, a former Mansfield Legacy standout, is on injured reserve.
Much like the Cowboys, the Seahawks are holding onto fleeting playoff hopes. But the Cowboys have won three consecutive games. The Seahawks have lost two consecutive games. Still, Seattle has been a staple in the playoffs of late. They have made five consecutive trips to the postseason and need to win to stay in the hunt for a sixth consecutive season. The last time the Cowboys had that long of a playoff run? They had six consecutive postseason berths from 1991-96.