The NFC East champion Cowboys (10-6) host the Seahawks (10-6) on Saturday evening in a rematch of their Week 3 clash in Seattle.
The last time the Cowboys met the Seahawks, Dallas fans coveted Earl Thomas, who had been tantalizingly hinted was available in a trade for the right price.
Thomas-to-Dallas talks were shut down prior to the game, the Seahawks clamped down on the Cowboys’ offense for a 24-13 victory, and a week later Thomas broke his leg, ending his season.
That was mid-September and much has changed around Cowboys’ headquarters.
While Cowboys fans viewed Thomas as a crowning jewel in a championship-level defense, Dallas ultimately felt the first-round-pick price on Thomas was too high. And while Thomas played a massive role in shutting down the Dallas passing game the first time around — he had a pair of interceptions and seven tackles — it served to spotlight the Cowboys’ big problem on offense.
Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott completed just 19 of 34 passes for 168 yards with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. Either he couldn’t find receivers or they couldn’t get open and it stunted the Cowboys’ offense as they failed to score a touchdown until the fourth quarter. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 127 yards in a losing effort.
The Cowboys problems in the passing game persisted through the first half of the season as they fell to 3-5.
But then Dallas made a move to acquire wide receiver Amari Cooper from the Raiders and, after a brief adjustment period, the Cowboys began to click on offense. Dallas went 7-1 in the second half of the season to win the NFC East by a game over the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles.
That all leads up to the huge question that will likely determine which team advances to the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.
Will the home field advantage and Cooper’s presence loosen up the Seahawks defense?
Las Vegas thinks so and so does ESPN’s Matchup Predictor. The Cowboys are a 1.5-point favorite and the matchup predictor gives Dallas a 57.3-percent chance to win.