Scout's Eye: Seahawks-Cowboys key matchups

Cowboys OTs Doug Free and Tyron Smith vs. Seahawks DEs Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock: Clemons and Brock are the Seahawks’ most dangerous defensive players. Free and Smith were the most exposed in the Eagles game when Trent Cole and Jason Babin were able to get up the field quickly and work their outside shoulder or use a spin move underneath.

Through the first seven weeks of watching Smith play, the one area of concern is not when he uses his athletic ability to take rushers wide, but when he has to deal with the inside pressure. There have been games where Smith gets beat when the defender spins on him. Last week against the Eagles, Babin was able to get him by going hard up the field, getting his weight on his outside foot, then spinning hard inside. When Smith tried to adjust back, he was a one-legged football player and way out of position.

When watching these Seahawks ends, you see them play with explosiveness up the field. The real strength of Clemons and Brock is their ability to get up the field. Free has had his moments where he has been technique poor this season, so how he and Smith are able to adjust to the Seahawks rushers will go a long way to how successful the Cowboys will be able to move the ball.

Cowboys CBs Terence Newman and Orlando Scandrick vs. Seahawks WR Sidney Rice: The Seahawks do have receivers that can make plays down the field, but their biggest problem has been at quarterback, where they have struggled to be accurate with their passes. When Tarvaris Jackson has had success throwing the ball, it has usually been to Sidney Rice, who is the Seahawks’ best playmaker.

Rice is a vertical player that has the speed and quickness to create opportunities for this offense. Rice does a nice job of releasing off the line if you try to play press against him. He is an outstanding route runner and knows how to work the sidelines. If given free access, Rice will come hard off the ball to sell the route, getting the defender on his heels, then break hard to the inside or out.

Rice really does a nice job of adjusting to the ball when thrown his direction, and when Jackson throws the ball, there is plenty of chances to have to make circus catches. Rice is a slippery receiver with the ball in his hands.

Both Newman and Scandrick have the ability and speed to run with Rice, who will take them all over the field.

The best throw that Jackson can make is the deep, vertical pass with touch. The Eagles didn’t take a vertical shot last week, but these Seahawks will. Rice can get vertical, as the Cowboys discovered in a playoff game in Minnesota a couple of seasons ago.

The Cowboys cannot allow Sidney Rice to be a dominant player in this game.

Cowboys front seven vs. Seahawks OL: Last week against Philadelphia, the Cowboys front seven was embarrassed by the Eagles’ blockers. The Eagles’ offensive line physically took it to the Cowboys, both run and pass.

Marcus Spears, Jason Hatcher, Kenyon Coleman and Sean Lissemore were awful. It was surprising how bad this group of defensive ends struggled in the game. The Eagles dominated these ends at the point of attack. Spears, Hatcher, Coleman and Lissemore couldn’t get off blocks. They struggled to get push when Michael Vick went back to pass.

The Seahawks are starting three offensive linemen that have two or less years of experience as starters. On the right side, the Seahawks are starting two rookies in guard John Moffitt and tackle James Carpenter. That is the side of the line where the Seahawks have struggled the most.

Marshawn Lynch is a talented back and you can see the frustration when he gets stopped for no gain. The Cowboys’ line and linebackers need to dominate this game much like they were dominated last week. Anything thing else would be disappointing.