S.N.T. (Saturday Night Texas)



SEAHAWKS: They’re back playing postseason football for the first time in two years. When they won the NFC in back to back seasons, everyone thought we were beginning to see the start of a new dominant team run the conference. It hasn’t panned out that way, but they’ve always been in the hunt for the playoffs and haven’t gone down without a fight. Remember when training camps kicked off and all the predictions were taking place before the season even started? This was a rebuilding year for the Seattle Seahawks. This is what their off-season consisted of: They released Richard Sherman, traded Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor didn’t play this season and Earl Thomas got injured early in the season and would end up missing the rest of the year. It’s been a collective team effort to replace some key guys. What’s been the key for the Seahawks and their success this year? They finally have a consistent running game they can lean on so Russell doesn’t have to throw the ball almost 50 times a game. When they pound the rock and control the clock, good things will happen for this offense. It’s been nice to see how Russell has developed into an all-pro quarterback. When he first came into the league, he was taught to just manage the clock. Now, he’s become one of the best at the position and has no issues at all with taking a game over with his feet or his arm. Another thing that’s made their offense so good is they don’t turn the ball over. They finished the season with 11 turnovers which is the fewest of any other team in the league, Although the defense lost some firepower, they are still one of the better units in the league that thrives on takeaways and making stops. They kick off the NFC Wild Card round with a rematch against America’s team (as they all say).

COWBOYS: Way back in September, I was very critical of their offense for obvious reasons. They didn’t have another playmaker outside of Ezekiel Elliott and as a former defensive player, you load the box up with additional men and force Dak Prescott to beat you but here was the thing: The Cowboys had no true playmaker on the perimeter to create space and get down the field to make a play. They released Dez Bryant during the off-season, Jason Witten retired so who would step up. The Cowboys would then make a move to acquire Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders and that’s when things began to look up for the team. The offense was more aggressive and Dak developed a nice chemistry with Coop. Entering their game Sunday against the New York Giants, the Cowboys had the NFC East clinched and were locked into the four seed so why play your guys, right? I agreed with Jason Garrett deciding to let Prescott play and the decision paid off because Dak had his best game of the season throwing for 387 yards and four touchdown passes. This performance allowed him to build up his confidence. He also made some of the best passes I’ve seen him make since coming into the league. The Dallas defense has been excellent this year with a consistent defensive line that can mix it up with exotic looks and pressure up front, a linebacking core anchored by two young stars in Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch and the secondary wasn’t great, but they do enough to make a stop or two. You just never know with this NFC East division each year. They’ll host their first playoff game since that epic battle with the Packers in the divisional round back in 2017.

SEAHAWKS PLAYER TO WATCH: Jarran Reed– The best defensive linemen are the ones who are scrappy up front and do all the dirty, that’s Jarran for you that I discussed. He can get into your quarterback’s face, disrupt his pocket and pressure, but he’s at his best when he’s attacking the line of scrimmage and stopping the run.

COWBOYS PLAYER TO WATCH: Tyrone Crawford– There’s nothing flashy about this guy. He just plays football and he’s an important piece to that Dallas defense. He plays the edge as a defensive end and can also play inside as a defensive tackle. He disrupts, gets pressure, contains, tackles, and leads as good as any the team. The sack numbers aren’t great but it’s not always about sacks. It’s about the quality of play and he brings that to the table.

FINAL ANALYSIS: This was the game I was most intrigued by after I saw each of the playoff games on the schedule. Both teams are so like one another. They both like to run the ball and they each play with that old-school mindset, so expect this game to be a physical battle throughout. Seattle will do everything in its power to make Dak beat them by throwing the football. The Seahawks offensive line has been hit by injuries, so I see Dallas throwing a lot of exotic looks at them with their defensive front. I couldn’t help but think of the last time these two met in the playoffs back in 2007 when Tony Romo botched the snap and the Cowboys weren’t able to kick the field goal. There’s nothing like a primetime game at Jerry World.