As always, here's a look at the two biggest matchups I have my eye on heading into this wildcard game.
Whoever handles these battles better should have a serious leg up in advancing to the next round of the playoffs.
Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper vs. Seattle Seahawks CB Shaquill Griffin
The Cowboys played the Seahawks before Amari Cooper arrived in Dallas, so this will be the first meeting of the season since Cooper was traded.
Cooper is an accomplished route runner while Griffin is one of the best corners in the league when it comes to playing the position. Griffin will test Cooper when it comes to his release off the line. Griffin is a square player that shows the ability to use his hands and feet in order to maintain balance and positioning initially in the route.
Where receivers have had some success against Griffin has been at the top of the route. Griffin doesn't have the power to hang in there when a receiver bullies him. This is how you get separation on him. Back in September, Allen Hurns was stuck in his route but kept fight up the field – then, just at the top of the route, he was able to shove Griffin off him and come back for the ball. It was just that split second that gave Hurns the space he needed for the reception. Cooper is physical enough to present the same type of issues for Griffin. But where Cooper is different than Hurns is that he can win much earlier in the route, which will put Griffin in chase mode.
Another noticeable thing about Griffin's game is that he will play on both sides of the field. If opponents put multiple receivers on one side of the field, Griffin will walk over to play in coverage. He will also occasionally line up in the slot, so there is always that possibility of him going with your best receiver during the game.
Dallas Cowboys DE Tyrone Crawford vs. Seattle Seahawks OT Duane Brown
The last time these two teams met, Tyrone Crawford was lining up at defensive tackle. In this matchup, Crawford will be the starter at right defensive end. His opponent this week is the veteran tackle Duane Brown.
When you study Brown's game, he's not the type of blocker that's going to impress you with his power. His technique is "catch and steer," all while attempting to maintain his position throughout the block. The strength of his technique is that Brown does play with balance. It's not often that you see him on the ground. Taco Charlton and Randy Gregory took the majority of the snaps against him in Week 3 and had problems with him in this area. They just couldn't get him to overextend or reach on his blocks.
Where Crawford will have an advantage is that he does play with enough quickness off the snap to get into Brown, but it's his power that will give him the majority of the problems. There were snaps in that game where Crawford was in a wide enough technique and Brown was unable to cut him off from the play. Crawford just powered himself in the direction of the ball and Brown couldn't do anything about it.
The Seahawks like to run the ball on the edges, so how well Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence handle those attempts will be a real key here. Tyrone Crawford played one of his best games of the season against these Seahawks and I don't expect anything different as these two teams meet again.