IRVING, Texas -- It's only been about a year since this matchup took place at CenturyLink Field last season, but it feels like so much longer.
Obviously, we know all about the differences with this Dallas offense -- highlighted by the loss of Tony Romo. But it's really interesting to me that this defense handled the Seahawks' offense so well last year, and it should only be better equipped to do so this time around.
Here's my breakdown of Seattle's players to watch this week.
Nemesis: Russell Wilson, QB
This is one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the league to defend. His improvisation is second to none. Plays with outstanding awareness and anticipation, and he is able to pull off plays that others would not even attempt.
Durable and tough. Can process the situation quickly and make the necessary adjustments, and he is not afraid of delivering the ball in some tight spots. Will rip the slant without hesitation. Will make throws with all different types of arm angles. Has the rare ability to throw the ball on the move, whether moving to his left or right. Has had to make more throws on the move due to the club's struggles in pass protection.
Wilson likes to dip his shoulder and move forward in the pocket to deliver the ball. Accuracy going forward is better than when he is falling backwards. If defensively you can get him to retreat – you have a better chance of making him throw the ball poorly. He has beautiful downfield accuracy and touch when he can set up in the pocket and let it fly. When throwing the deep ball, he's likely to go in the direction of Tyler Lockett who has the speed the stretch the field.
He'll take the snap, set up in the pocket and make his read. If he doesn't like what he sees, he will take off running. Slippery in the pocket. Hard guy to get on the ground. Surprising strength for his lack of height. Lateral movement and escape are rare. Has the knack when playing poorly to make that one clutch play for his team.
Weapon: Earl Thomas, S
Has a tremendous passion for the game. You can tell just by studying him on tape that he loves to play. Thomas demands respect from his teammates and plays in a way that they give it to him. He is physical and mentally tough.
You can count on this guy to be on the field regardless of his health. Outstanding football intelligence. Playing speed is very good. Shows range and quickness. When he sees it, he is gone. Recovery speed is one of his best traits. He's a reactionary athlete in every sense of the word -- rare body control and balance for the position.
Plays with lateral agility and quickness. Can explode on his break and into the ball carrier. Will strike with a thud as a tackler. Very good at playing with the awareness to understand the situation in the game and make the play in space that gets his team off the field. He can match up and cover when he has to. Can put him in man or zone and he is going to have success.
Thomas isn't afraid to play down in the box and support the run. Reads his keys well and reacts to the play. Puts himself in position to create turnovers. Always talking with his teammates. Emotional player when things don't go right. Had back-to-back plays in the Cincinnati game where Kam Chancellor busted the coverage and he was all over him. Ton of pride in the way he plays.
Under the Radar: Frank Clark, DE
If you remember back to the spring, this was one of my favorite players from the 2015 NFL Draft. He had some serious off-field questions about his character, but if you just graded the tape – he was one of the best defensive ends in that draft.
He has some snap to his punch. When he hits blockers you can see them rock back. Outstanding initial quickness off the snap. Can change direction. Dip and close. Plays with a burst. The more that he is in space and off the edge, the better a player he is. Tackles think they can throw him and they just can't -- he has that much upper body strength and power. Does a nice job of playing with his hands. Can play off blockers. Very good functional strength. Lateral speed and quickness is his best trait. Knows how to avoid blocks. Gets on the blocker right away and plays with balance.
There is consistency with his get-off. Has a nose for the ball. Can run from the backside and cause problems. You have to account for him when in the game. Can beat blockers at the point. Good against the trap. Reactionary athlete. Can get to the edge as a pass rusher. Relentless. Can retrace steps and get back in on play. Can really sharpen the corner and can really cover some ground when he runs. Will rush from either side of the defense. Will cause problems in the pocket if he beats the tackle. Have to worry about him going after the ball in the pocket.
Be there when the Cowboys take on the Seahawks November 1. Tickets start as low as $49 for their match up this Sunday at AT&T Stadium. Instant ticket download available.Click here to purchase.