Zylbert’s Wild Card Over/Under: Will Seahawks-Cowboys Exceed Scoring Expectations?
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: (left) Jarran Reed (90), end Frank Clark (55), Ezekiel Elliott (21), Dak Prescott (4).
Betting odds: Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys
Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
Zylbert’s 2018 NFL Over/Under Betting Record: 9-8-2, Even
Last Week’s Result: Chargers-Broncos Over 41 (loss)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit
There’s no denying that the Cowboys and Seahawks are built well on both sides of the ball, showcasing success through their offense and defense that, on the surface, makes this affair a tough matchup to decipher regarding the side and the over/under.
Russell Wilson just enjoyed arguably his best campaign as a pro, recording career-bests in passer rating (110.9) and touchdown passes (35) — those numbers actually ranked him in the top three in each category. Additionally, Wilson matched a career low with just seven interceptions.
Wilson is 8-4 for his career in the playoffs, remarkably winning at least one game in each of his six previous trips to the postseason. He’s just a winner whom can always be trusted in pressure spots.
While he has to go up against a solid defense, it’s one Wilson is capable of handling. Seattle yields a lot of sacks (51), but Dallas was a middle-of-the-pack team in that department this season.
The strength of their pass coverage was in generating targets in tight windows from opposing quarterbacks, doing so on 34.4% of pass attempts, according to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, which placed them first in the league.
However, Wilson was the most-proficient quarterback throwing into tight windows this season, ranking first in yards-per-attempt (8.4), passer rating (103.4) and passing touchdowns (nine) when dealt such obstacles.
The Seahawks’ running game is the best Wilson has had since Marshawn Lynch’s departure. Interestingly, the Seahawks actually churned out the most yards on the ground in all of football (160 per game), and much of that was due to the emergence of Chris Carson, who enters this encounter on a sizzling run.
Carson tallied 447 yards over his last four ballgames to close out the season, scoring five touchdowns within that span. For the season, Carson finished fifth in the NFL in rushing with 1,151 yards.
The Cowboys have some notable firepower of their own that can help get this game geared toward an over. That effort starts with Dak Prescott, who is also coming off a successful regular season.
After a disappointing 2017, Prescott posted something more in line with his fabulous Rookie-of-the-Year campaign two seasons ago. The 3,885 yards he registered were the most he’s compiled, and he also completed 67.7% of his passes to go along with a 22/8 TD/INT ratio in etching a desirable 96.6 passer rating.
Prescott will be making his second-career start at this stage and we’ll hope it mirrors his postseason debut versus the Packers a couple of seasons ago. In that game, the Mississippi State product connected on 24-of-38 passes for 302 yards with three touchdowns and a pick.
The chances of a similar performance taking place increase when Prescott is suiting up at Jerry’s World based on his home-and-road splits. Fortunately, that is where this Wild Card showdown will be taking place, as Prescott has typically been more consistent in his starts at AT&T Stadium.
In fact, that tendency was on full display in ’18, as Prescott strung together a passer rating nearly 25 points higher in his home outings (109.5) compared to his starts away from Dallas (85.6).
Yes, when these two clubs met during the season back in Week 3 — a 24-13 home victory for the Seahawks — Prescott ended up with his lowest-rated outing of the season.
However, the Cowboys are a much different team from that early juncture, particularly with the addition of wide receiver Amari Cooper, who has been tremendous in his new digs. In nine games with the former Oakland Raider, Prescott finished with a passer rating below 99.0 only twice — both on the road, too.
Most important to this Dallas offense has to be its star running back Ezekiel Elliott, who just wrapped up another campaign leading the NFL in rushing yards for the second time in his three-year career.
What may make Elliott most dangerous to this Seattle defense is his ability to catch passes out of the backfield. The man otherwise known as Zeke actually led the Cowboys during the regular season with 87 receptions, and considering the Seahawks surrendered more catches to running backs than two-thirds of the league, this is an area Elliott can thrive.
I was able to get my over bet in at 43, and for those who see 43.5 from their book, I recommend buying the half-point.
Play: OVER 43 (-110)