Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks (-5.5, 44 o/u)
Preseason football doesn’t provide much excitement most of the time. But things will be a little different when the Dallas Cowboys (1-1, 0-1 away) travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks (1-1, 0-1 home) at CenturyLink Field on Thursday (10:00 PM Eastern).
Not only will Cowboy fans get another look at the surprisingly effective Dak Prescott, but they’ll also get their first taste of the team’s first-round pick (and popular Rookie of the Year pick) Ezekiel Elliott.
This preseason has indeed been an encouraging one for Dallas. After going just 4-12 last season with Tony Romo sidelined, pundits were questioning their QB situation. The team did not have a serviceable backup last year, and were rolling into this season with an untested rookie (Prescott) backing up Romo. But Prescott has been all-world in the first two preseason games. In Week 2, he went 12-15 for 199 yards and two majors against Miami, finishing with a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
He’s now 22 of 27 for 338 yards, four TDs, and zero interceptions through two weeks.
Yes, it’s just the preseason, but everyone from El Paso to Houston has to be liking what they see from the Mississippi State product.
The guys who are expected to lead this team also looked good against Miami. Romo saw his first preseason action in Week 2 and went 4 of 5 for 49 yards. Dez Bryant caught two passes for 46 yards and a touchdown.
The Dallas running game did it’s part behind the team’s vaunted offensive line. Free agent acquisition Alfred Morris ran for 85 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries, averaging 6.5 yards per carry.
The only real bad news for Dallas heading into Week 3 is that Bryant suffered a concussion in practice on Monday. He’s apparently feeling much better today, but he’s not expected to suit up for Thursday’s game.
Unlike Dallas, Seattle hasn’t liked what it’s seen from their own veteran/rookie QB combo, especially in Week 2. Russell Wilson was just 5 of 11 for 77 yards and four sacks, while first-year man Trevone Boyking was 10 of 20 for 127 yards, a pick, and two more sacks.
The constant pressure on the quarterback is a holdover issue from last season and could signal another tough year for the offensive line, at least in the passing game. Seattle was sixth-worst in the league last year, surrendering 46 total sacks.
The O-line did look good on the ground. Running back Christine Michael was able to put up 55 yards on ten carries, while Troymaine Pope had 86 yards and a major on ten totes.
Second-year back Thomas Rawls, who was a revelation last year filling in for Marshawn Lynch (before suffering his own season-ending ankle injury), was a full practice participant on Sunday. He’s not expected to play this week, but Week 1 of the regular season looks very promising.
“[Rawls] looks really good and I think the signs are very positive that he’s going to be ready in a couple weeks to play,” said Pete Carroll.
These preseason games are always tough to predict. Teams look so different from one week to the next as rookies get familiar, starters either see more time or ride the pine, and coaches try different things. That said, the entire Dallas team has looked pretty darn good, and 5.5 points is a big spread for an exhibition game, even if it is at “the Clink.” I’ll roll with Dallas.
Pick: Dallas (+5.5).
Photo credit: Keith Allison (Flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].