Local and national media make their picks for Saturday's Wild Card playoff matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys.
Elliot Harrison, NFL.com: Cowboys 25, Seahawks 17
Harrison: Seahawks RB Chris Carson might be the most interesting player in this game. Unless David Moore starts the game off by hauling in a 50-yard Wilson moonball for a touchdown, the Seahawks' methodical approach on offense might be the most important factor in this juicy matchup. Seattle led the NFL in rushing this season, and as long as Carson finds creases, he will present the same issue that Elliott presents -- less chances for the opposing offense. Thus, we could be staring at a 17-13 kind of game here. One problem for Seattle: The Dallas LB trio of Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch and (when healthy) Sean Lee is now an NFL brand. Those guys aren't gonna be easy-peasy to run on, even if Lee continues to play a limited role.
Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com: Cowboys 23, Seahawks 20
Prisco: This should be a physical game between two teams that want to run it and play good defense. ... Look for the Cowboys defense to come up big in this one, much like they did in a home victory against the Saints earlier this year. Cowboys take it.
Will Brinson, CBSSports.com: Seahawks 17, Cowboys 14
Brinson: Another situation where the coach and quarterback for one team are probably better than the other and that's why I lean towards Seattle. I've been down on the Cowboys for much of the season, and it turns out I was wrong about them and how they would incorporate Amari Cooper and improve the offense with a true No. 1 wide receiver. Ezekiel Elliott sat out Week 17 and still led the league in rushing. He's been dominant down the stretch. The Cowboys offensive line is a problem for anyone and Seattle's front seven isn't the dominant unit it used to be, although Bobby Wagner might currently be the best middle linebacker in football. Seattle's strength is its run game and Dallas is actually good at stopping the run. That's a serious cause for concern. But are Brian Schottenheimer, Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson just going to run into a brick wall over and over without some success? I don't think so. They'll be a little more creative in this spot with the offense out of the gate. Wilson's been so efficient down the stretch -- he completed 65 percent of his passes in the final seven games (Seattle went 6-1), while throwing 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He only averaged 211 passing yards per game, but his 9.3 yards per attempt is eye popping. I don't see this being a blowout and I want to side with Carroll/Wilson over Jason Garrett/Dak Prescott if that's the case.
Michael David-Smith, ProFootballTalk.com: Seahawks 20, Cowboys 17
MDS: Although the Cowboys’ offense got better after the Amari Cooper trade, I think Dallas has to be a little worried about its ability to move the ball against the Seattle defense. I also think the Seahawks’ run-first offense is going to be able to protect an early lead. I like Seattle to pull off the road upset.
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com: Cowboys 20, Seahawks 16
Florio: The Cowboys play better at home, and so do the Seahawks. Advantage home team, especially since the No. 5 seed is 4-4 away from the raucous, earthquake-inducing sounds of the Twelves. Dallas dismantled the Saints in Texas, and the Cowboys formula should work against a team with a very similar approach.
Scott Engel, RotoExperts.com: Seahawks 23, Cowboys 21
Engel: I see both running backs having very productive days, as Elliott will seize the spotlight and Carson is so physical at the point of attack and is very tough to slow down even against the best defenders. Cooper may have a few sizable gains and Beasley will keep the ball moving as well. This one is so evenly matched, though, that it will come down to QB play in the clutch, and that is where Wilson will prevail.
Jim Moore, 710Sports.com: Seahawks 23, Cowboys 20 (OT)
Moore: I’m hoping the team facing the most pressure will feel it as the game goes on, and that’s Dallas. Jason Garrett always seems to be on a hot seat, and the Cowboys’ season will be considered a disappointment if they don’t win at least one playoff game. The Seahawks? They’re playing with house money. Even if they lose, it would still be a terrific season with plenty of hope for the future. Not many thought they’d even make the playoffs.
ESPN.com: Six experts think the Cowboys will win, while five experts pick the Seahawks to win.
Field Yates, ESPN NFL Insider: These teams are similar stylistically, as both want to run the football on offense. The Seahawks led the NFL in total rushing yards and rushing attempts, while Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott led all players in rushing yards and rushing attempts. This might prove to be a low-scoring affair, but the difference-maker is the home-field edge; the Cowboys -- catalyzed by a young and improving defense -- have won seven of eight games at home this season.
Kirstie Chiappelli, Sporting News: Seahawks 20, Cowboys 16
Chiappelli: Despite the Cowboys' late surge behind quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott, the Seahawks still boast the league's top rushing game, thanks in large part to Chris Carson running for 1,151 yards and nine scores this season. The experience Russell Wilson brings to the table also can't be discounted, as the quarterback has played in six of Seattle's past seven playoff appearances.
Bob Condotta, Seattle Times: Cowboys 31, Seahawks 27
Condotta: These are two of the hottest teams in the NFL. While Seattle has won six of its last seven, the Cowboys have won seven of their last eight. Each also has a rusher among the top five in the NFL (Ezekiel Elliott, Chris Carson) and a passing attack that is more opportunistic than prolific. It's tough to bet against Russell Wilson — he's 8-4 in the postseason in his career. But this could be a bad matchup for Seattle going against a Dallas defense that ranks fifth in the NFL against the run and is playing at home. Seattle has beaten Dallas twice in the past year in the regular season, holding a 3-0 turnover edge in each game. If that continues, chalk up another win for the Seahawks. If not. ....
Mike Vorel, Seattle Times: Seahawks 24, Cowboys 20
Vorel: These teams mirror each other in a lot of ways. Both are determined to establish the run, both have stars on the second level of their defense and both enter the playoffs riding a wave of momentum. But only one has Russell Wilson. Only one has a collection of guys – albeit fewer of them than in previous seasons – that understands how to win playoff games. The Cowboys, meanwhile, have all the pressure in the world. They’re expected to win. If they don’t, there will be consequences. These young upstart Seahawks have so little to lose, and that’s why they’ll win.
Larry Stone, Seattle Times: Seahawks 20, Cowboys 17 (OT)
Stone: These teams appear to be extremely evenly matched in talent, momentum and M.O., so it stands to reason that they’ll need extra time to decide this one. In the end, I give the edge to the playoff experience and big-game history of Russell Wilson. Sebastian Janikowski’s leg will prove decisive once again.
Matt Calkins, Seattle Times: Cowboys 24, Seahawks 23
Calkins: I can't quite match the football analytical skills of Skip Bayless, who dismissed Russell Wilson's rushing skills this season because he didn't run for a touchdown, but I do know the power of home field in the NFL. On a neutral site, the Seahawks would be the Cowboys more often than not, but in a league of parity, that home environment is usually the difference in a game between two fairly evenly matched teams.
The Seahawks and Cowboys will meet for the second time in the postseason this Saturday in Dallas. Take a look back at photos from past games played between the two teams.