(Editor’s Note: The start of the 2017 season is still a few months away, but it’s never too early to prepare. The Cowboys face a daunting schedule this year, highlighted by the AFC West and NFC West, as well as their traditional rivalries in the NFC East. Over the next two weeks, Bryan Broaddus will preview what to expect from all 13 of their upcoming opponents. The series concludes with Week 16 and the Seattle Seahawks).
Series Record:Cowboys lead, 10-7
This Year’s Matchup:Dec. 24, AT&T Stadium
Best Draft Pick:For a team that has struggled with their offensive line over the years, I like what the Seahawks did with their second round selection of Ethan Pocic and the flexibility he brings to the lineup. At LSU, he played all the offensive line positions and did it well. Pocic will likely line up at right tackle and battle former first-round selection Germain Ifedi for that spot. The loser could be in line for one of the starting guard spots. Pocic has already caught the eye of the front office and coaching staff with his ability to “Lock In” and focus. Pocic is super smart and his attention to detail was widely known from his days in Baton Rouge.* Best Free Agency Move:* Luke Joeckel, was the No. 2 overall pick out of Texas A&M by Jacksonville in the 2013 NFL Draft. The Jaguars did not pick up his fifth-year option, which left Joeckel looking for a job. Instead of trying to work out something short term, Joeckel went out and signed a one-year, prove it deal with the Seahawks. Joeckel is coming off an ACL and MCL injury he suffered in the Jaguars game in London. According to reports from the front office, he is way ahead of schedule and has been already working in OTAs and mini camps. Joeckel has played tackle and guard while in Jacksonville and is now doing the same for the Seahawks. There are those around the league that feel he might be a bust, but sometimes with young offensive linemen you have to give them a chance to learn how to hold/trip/clip before they develop.
Most Troublesome Matchup:It’s never easy to deal with Michael Bennett coming off the edge. He is one of the better players in the league when it comes to rushing the passer but also playing the run. His length is troubling for blockers due to the fact that he can keep them off his body as he works down the line. Along with Earl Thomas, he is the emotional leader of the defense. When they’re rolling as a unit, it’s usually due to his play.
Most Favorable Matchup:We talked about the changes within the offensive line and their new additions. If guys like Pocic and Joeckel make a difference, then they will improve on a unit that was ranked 27th when it came to sacks per attempt. Opponents that have given the Seahawks trouble over the years are the ones that control the line of scrimmage and make Russell Wilson play backward. Rod Marinelli has had some nice success in the past dealing with Wilson and this Seahawks offense.** Unsung Storyline: *It was a complete turnover at running back for the Seahawks. Can Eddie Lacy give this offense what Marshawn Lynch once did – a physical running game? If he can accomplish that, then the Seahawks will be favored to win the NFC and make a return trip to the Super Bowl.