Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Week 7: Dallas at Hawks

Dallas Cowboys: 4-2
2004 Away Record: 2-6
2005 Away Record: 2-1

Offense:

Quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck (1495 yds, 8 TDs, 3 INTs) vs Drew Bledsoe (1663 yds, 11 TDs, 4 INTs)
This is a difficult call that shouldn't be difficult. Who has given the "unsuck" juice to Drew Bledsoe this season? He's not this good, and hasn't been this good for about five years. Still, the stats just don't lie. Bledsoe may be the best quarterback statistically in the NFC so far this year. He is making good decisions (only 4 INTs), finding open receivers, and has shown enough escapability to not get his bell rung ten times a game. He did start showing some warts against the Giants, and not having Julius Jones puts more of an emphasis on the passing game than he is comfortable with at this stage of his career. At the end of the day, Bledsoe has been everything Dallas has wanted him to be and is the primary reason they are 4-2. As for Matt Hasselbeck, he didn't have much of a game against Houston, and didn't really have to. When you're getting almost 10 yards a run, it doesn't make a lot of sense to focus on the pass. Hasselbeck also finally threw one of his "what in the world?" interceptions, and thankfully it came in that rout. He will have to really show up on Sunday and have a game similar to that he had against the Rams. Linebackers dropping back into coverage seem to give him problems, and the 3-4 defense employed by Dallas could give him more problems than normal on our short crossing patterns. So with all that, I'm going to make an unpopular decision. Hasselbeck, prove me wrong. Advantage: Dallas

Running Back: Shaun Alexander (715 yds, 12 TDs) vs Anthony Thomas/Tyson Thompson/Marion Barber (219 yds, 1 TD)
I just checked the injury report again to see about the status of RB Julius Jones, and it looks like he is going to be forced to sit this one out, which is good news for a Seahawks defense that let him run rampant last year (and when the Legend of Isaiah Kaczyvenski was born). The above combination of backs will tag team a running attack for the Cowboys that was definitely below average last week. Anthony Thomas will probably get the bulk of the carries. Marion Barber is a receiving threat out of the backfield, and Tyson Thompson has good up field speed. None of them can hold a candle to Shaun Alexander, who is quite simply ripping the NFL a new one. He continues to run through people, find the end zone, block effectively, essentially becoming the back we have desired for the past few years. This is an advantage that has to be called huge. The run game for the Hawks can keep Dallas' defense on the field. Huge Advantage: Seattle

Receivers: Seattle (241 receiving yards/game) vs Dallas (262 receiving yards/game)
This is another situation where last week's game against Houston doesn't really mean squat. We didn't focus on the pass. So Joe Jurevicius isn't a one-week wonder. DJ Hackett didn't disappear. We just ran the ball all night long. The one nice thing about last week's performance was the appearance of Peter Warrick, who we've been waiting on all year. Again, we will miss Bobby Engram and Darrell Jackson, but the wait is almost over. This is the final time we will be without both, and I believe our receivers will be up to the task. The Cowboys are led by the aging wonder Terry Glenn, who is really enjoying his reunion with Bill Parcells. Keyshawn Johnson and his mouth are still around as well, and he is still a very dependable every down receiver. Glenn has shown some speed that has added a needed dimension to the Cowboys' attack. Their big loss is third receiver Patrick Crayton, which will be a significant loss. Still, enough injuries on both sides to call this one a toss-up. Advantage: Push

Offensive Line: Seattle (166 rushing yards/game, 13 sacks) vs Houston (112 rushing yards/game, 13 sacks)
Let's repeat myself again as I do each and every week... our offensive line is good. While they seem to have some huge gaffes each week that lead to 3 sacks, when they bear down there isn't a single defense that can stop them. It's too the point that we can just pick who is facing Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson and pencil them in for 0 sacks and a generally frustrating afternoon. Today's winners will be detailed below. Lost in the crunch is the impressive performance of Sean Locklear on the other side of the line. Locklear has been very steady, and it's too the point of Shaun being able to run through the right side as easy as the left. That's even with Chris "weak link" Gray. Dallas will be dealing with yet another significant offensive injury to Flozell Adams, who could possibly be their best lineman. At some point you have to think these injuries will add up. The rushing numbers haven't been all that impressive all year for Dallas, and these numbers start to perhaps show why Dallas is slightly overrated. If you only run for 112 yards a game, you have some issues controlling the line of scrimmage. We'll see if we can take advantage, but the call here is easy. Advantage: Seattle

Defense:
D-Line: Seattle (102 rushing yards/game, 18 sacks) vs Houston (95 rushing yards/game, 20 sacks)
I would say that our defensive line has yet to truly step up. I'm still a little disappointed. Two of our three sacks against an abysmal Houston offense came in their final possessions. Yes, this is because they were only doing three step drops, but still. Grant Wistrom finally bagged his first, and we definitely need more. Rocky Bernard has been more valuable than Marcus Tubbs. That has to stop. The stats above are fairly impressive, but I don't feel that the defensive line is the reason for them. Dallas has an excellent nose tackle in La'Roi Glover, a man who is definitely able to take up the space asked for in the 3-4 alignment. On the left side (our Walter Jones victim o' the week) is Greg Ellis, who won't improve on his 3.5 sacks. The right side is the weaker side as well, with Kenyon Coleman. With the acknowledgment of the difference our offensive line makes, I'll make another interesting call. Advantage: Seattle (prove me right boys)

Linebackers: Our linebackers continue to improve, continue to impress. DD Lewis will be back for this affair, which means we may not see as much of Leroy Hill as I would like. What impressed me last week was this group's ability to defend an offense that was attacking their zones of responsibility (five/six yard passes and runs). They would not let Houston dink and dunk their way down the field, which was nice to see after that darn Washington game. Lofa Tatupu and friends are going to need to force Dallas to throw the ball... make sure that the above group of running backs is not able to gain any confidence. Another plus? They actually look like they can blitz. Dallas has an excellent group of linebackers, although yet again they are dealing with a major injury, this time to Dat Nguyen. DeMarcus Ware is a freak of nature, and I don't think Matt Hasselbeck will attempt any passes in his general direction after what happened in the preseason. These linebackers are the main reason why Dallas managed to hold both Philadelphia and New York down. They are fast, fill holes, put pressure on the quarterback, and allow for multiple configurations designed to confuse opposing offenses. Hasselbeck is going to have to do a good job of recognition and response. Advantage: Dallas

Secondary: Seattle (201 receiving yards/game, 3 INTs) vs Dallas (198 receiving yards/game, 6 INTs)
How our secondary performs is going to depend on two key questions. One, can Marquand Manuel step in for Ken Hamlin and be the enforcer over the middle? He looked good when Michael Boulware was hurt against St Louis. Two, is Andre Dyson going to play? If not, Kelly Herndon will step in again. X-factor who hasn't gotten enough praise yet? Backup corner Jordan Babineaux, who we rarely see picked on. He helps us have the confidence if Dyson doesn't play. The Cowboys are led in the secondary by their best defensive player, S Roy Williams. Williams can get beaten by the deep ball, as shown against the Redskins, but since we have no one to stretch the field, this shouldn't be an issue for the Cowboys. Terence Newman is a terrific cover corner, although he will be at a size disadvantage against Jurevicius. These secondaries will be tested, but how Seattle's performs may decide this game. Advantage: Push

Special teams: Even if the opposing kicker is one Jose Cortez I can't give us an advantage. We seem to screw up one way or another. Just give us time. Advantage: Dallas

Prediction: What an enormous game this is. The winner will have the inroads to home field advantage in the playoffs. The loser will be called overrated. Pete Prisco will either shine or be vilified in the streets. Something to remember... Dallas barely beat San Francisco on the road. They barely beat San Diego on the road (only won because Marty Schottenheimer forgot he had LaDainian Tomlinson). They lost to Oakland on the road. What does this mean? We have the advantage. The Hawks beat Atlanta at home. They are on a roll. They are going to push aside the distraction of Ken Hamlin and play tough. The Cowboys have too many injuries to overcome. We need it. Let's take it. Hawks by 10.

posted by Gavin @ 6:51 PM  0 comments

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