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The Opposing View: An Insider's Look At The Seahawks' Week 13 Opponent, The Dallas Cowboys

Five questions from about this week’s opponent, five answers from FOX Sports’ David Helman.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) passes against the Washington Commanders during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) passes against the Washington Commanders during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

The Seahawks head to Dallas this week to face one of the hottest teams in the league, a Cowboys squad that has won five of its last six games, including three straight by a combined margin of 127-37. To help you learn more about this week's opponent ahead of Thursday night's game, we reached out to David Helman of FOX Sports with five questions about the Cowboys.

After some recent good seasons, is this the Cowboys team that can get over the hump and be a Super Bowl contender, and if so what is the difference with this year's team? And on a related note, how big is this stretch of games (Seattle, Philly, Buffalo, Miami) in determining how good the Cowboys are?

Helman: My recurring question for the Cowboys this season has been "if not now, then when?" If this Dallas team can't put a run together, I'm not sure when it's going to happen. They have a top tier defense that's only going to get more expensive in the years to come. They have a quarterback who's playing as well as anyone in the league - and his contract is going to become an issue starting in 2024. They've got an All-Pro receiver, a solid offensive line and a Pro Bowl running back. Even their kicker is having a wonderful season. It's hard to pinpoint some glaring weakness that would hold them back. The only thing left is to show it. As you pointed out, their next five games are all against playoff contenders. They're currently 0-2 in those games this year. It's time for them to step up and show why this year could be different.

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Dak Prescott looks like he's taken his game to another level; what's been the difference for him this year?

Helman: As a long-time Dak Prescott apologist, I'd argue that he's been playing at this level for the majority of the last four years. His interceptions spiked last year due to a combination of pressing and bad luck, but they're back down to their usual levels now. If there is a difference in his level of play, two things stand out: for starters, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy has empowered him to be the engine of the offense. We're seeing Dallas throw to set up the run much more often this season, whereas the Cowboys have often wanted to go ground-and-pound in years past. And secondly, Dak looks much more confident on the move this year. He's not a running quarterback, but he has good enough mobility to extend plays and make big-time throws off schedule. He's doing that with regularity this year, and it's paying off. Now comes the fun part: we get to see if he can maintain against a higher level of competition. The Cowboys' last three opponents are a combined 9-26, so the Seahawks will present a meatier challenge than what we've seen recently.

Five interception-return touchdowns in 11 games is just absurd, how is DaRon Bland doing this? And big picture, how big has his emergence been for that defense, particularly with Trevon Diggs out for the season?

Helman: I wish I had a better answer, because it's one of the crazier things I've ever seen. Bland has officially made NFL history and he didn't even need the 17th additional game to do it - not even close. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said last week that he liked Bland's ball skills coming out of college, but having him learn from a great intercepter in Trevon Diggs has clearly paid off. Obviously, Diggs won't be back this year after tearing his ACL in September. But the Cowboys have to be incredibly excited about potentially starting a pair of All-Pros at corner in 2024. Paired with that pass rush, they could be a special duo for a long time.

Aside from the obvious big names, what player/players could you see being an x-factor in this game?

Helman: How's this for a hunch? Special teams loomed large for Seattle last week, between Dee Eskridge's big kick return and DeeJay Dallas' muffed punt. The Cowboys have had solid special teams all season. Pete Carroll loves him some special teams, and Cowboys special teams coordinator John Fassel is one of the NFL's best. Here's guessing we'll see something wild - whether that's a big return or a fake. Should be a fun chess match about the game's forgotten third component.

What matchup or matchups are you most looking forward to seeing play out on Thursday?

Helman: I feel like I say this every week, but I think most Cowboys' matchups can be boiled down to how well the opponent deals with the Dallas pass rush. Charles Cross is healthy again and looks like he's playing at a high level. Hopefully Abe Lucas is back from injury this week, as well. Seattle having both of its young tackles available to face off against Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence would be must-see TV.

Seahawks practice inside at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, Wash. on Nov. 26, 2023.

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