Saturday’s NFC wild card matchup features two teams that overcame slow starts to return to playoff contention, as the Dallas Cowboys host the Seattle Seahawks, opening as slim 2.5-point favorites.
The Cowboys punched their playoff ticket as the NFC’s No. 4 seed by virtue of a first-place finish in the NFC East, while the Seahawks silenced the naysayers by marching to a 10-6 SU record and claiming the conference’s top wild card and No. 5 seed.
Kickoff is set for 8:15pm on Saturday, January 5th at AT&T Stadium.
The Seahawks opened the NFL campaign amid low expectations after finishing 2017 on a 4-5 SU run and out of playoff contention for the first time since 2011.
Pegged as a lengthy +150 bet to win OVER 8.0 games this season, Seattle stumbled out of the gate with consecutive losses before rebounding to become one of the NFL’s most reliable wagers.
The Seahawks stumbled out of the gate with consecutive losses before rebounding to become one of the NFL’s most reliable wagers
A sturdy defense spearheaded the Seahawks’ early-season rebound, limiting opponents to just 16 points per game during a 4-1 SU and ATS run that lifted the team back into the playoff picture.
However, it was the rediscovery of an offensive touch that had eluded them since last season that proved to be the difference in the Seahawks’ drive back into contention.
.@JohnClaytonNFL reviews the @Seahawks' Week 3 win with a look at five things that are working, including the best safety tandem in the league in Earl Thomas and Bradley McDougald. https://t.co/THZho4zd4Z
— 710 ESPN Seattle (@710ESPNSeattle) September 25, 2018
Led by quarterback Russell Wilson’s midseason stretch of eight straight games with multiple touchdown passes, combined with the NFL’s leading rushing game, the Seahawks racked up 28.6 points per game over their final 12 regular-season outings, scoring 30 or more points on five occasions.
The unexpected offensive explosion has contributed to a 7-1 run for the OVER in totals betting, and has also made the Seahawks darlings at the sportsbooks, where they have gone 8-3-1 ATS over their past 12.
— Seattle Times Sports (@SeaTimesSports) December 31, 2018
However, Seattle has struggled with consistency on the road.
With their narrow 27-24 win as hefty 14.5-point chalk last weekend in Arizona, the Seahawks closed out the season with a middling 4-4 SU record away from CenturyLink Field, 3-4-1 ATS.
The Seahawks have also been dismal playoff road performers, going winless SU and ATS in their past two while being outscored by an average margin of 11.5 points, and just 2-11 SU in 13 playoff road games since 1983.
Seahawks vs Cowboys Statistical Comparison
|26.8 (T6th)||PPG||21.2 (22nd)|
|353.3 (18th)||YPG||343 (22nd)|
|160 (1st)||Rushing YPG||122.7 (10th)|
|193.3 (27th)||Passing YPG||221.1 (23rd)|
|21.7 (11th)||PPG Allowed||20.3 (6th)|
|353.3 (16th)||YPG Allowed||329.3 (7th)|
|113.2 (13th)||Rushing YPG Allowed||94.6 (5th)|
|240.1 (17th)||Passing YPG Allowed||234.7 (13th)|
|+15 (1st)||Turnover Differential||+3 (12th)|
The Cowboys looked poised to take a step back from last season’s 9-7 finish following a 3-5 start.
But a 7-1 SU stretch run, fueled by four crucial wins over divisional rivals, was all the Cowboys needed to claim their third divisional title in five years, and the No. 4 seed in the NFC.
While the Seahawks built their second-half success on surprising offense, it has been a ferocious defense that enabled the Cowboys to turn the corner.
Dallas limited opponents to fewer than 20 points per game in the seven outings prior to last weekend’s meaningless 36-35 win in New York, highlighted by a stifling 13-10 win over the conferencing-leading New Orleans Saints as a 7.5-point home underdog in Week 13.
The #Seahawks may own a Week 3 win over the Cowboys, but there are a lot of reasons why Saturday's wild-card playoff game will play out differently, as Jim Moore (@cougsgo) breaks down.https://t.co/7PIrkvvhn8
— 710 ESPN Seattle (@710ESPNSeattle) December 31, 2018
The Cowboys have been dominant on home turf this season, tying the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams with a conference-leading 7-1 SU record.
With outright wins in five of six overall as betting underdogs, the Cowboys have also regularly paid out at the sportsbooks, going 6-1-1 ATS over their past eight and 9-6-1 ATS on the season.
Playoff success has eluded the Cowboys since their last Super Bowl victory 23 years ago
Playoff success has eluded Dallas over the past two decades. The Cowboys are a dismal 3-9 SU in 12 playoff contests since their last Super Bowl victory 23 years ago.
Each of those three victories came at home on Wild Card Weekend, with their most recent win coming four years ago, a 24-20 victory over the Detroit Lions as 6-point chalk.
The Seahawks hold the upper hand in recent meetings between these two teams, winning three straight, 2-1 ATS, capped by a 24-13 victory as 1-point home chalk in Week 3.
Seattle has also limited the Cowboys to just 14.8 points per game while going 4-1 SU over their past five meetings, including low-scoring wins in their past two trips to AT&T Stadium that extend the UNDER’s reliable run to 10-3 in 13 matchups since 1998.