The Seahawks try to regroup quickly against the Cowboys, who are still in the playoff hunt, and get star running back Ezekiel Elliott back from a six-game suspension.
2017 record: 8-6, second in NFC East.
Coach: Jason Garrett (66-52 in eight years with the Cowboys and overall).
Series record: Dallas leads it 10-6 and has won four of the last six dating to 2005. Seattle is 2-2 against Dallas in the Pete Carroll era, including a 13-12 win on the road in 2015.
Early line: Cowboys by 4½ points.
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QB Dak Prescott: Prescott has struggled more in his second year after a breakout rookie campaign in which he emerged as the successor to the now-retired Tony Romo. Most alarmingly from a Dallas perspective is that Prescott has thrown 11 interceptions this year in 426 attempts after tossing just four last season in 459. His yards per attempt is also down markedly, from 8.6 to 6.8. But not having Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield to deflect attention has obviously played a role. Prescott threw seven picks in the six games Elliott was suspended.
RB Ezekiel Elliott: Yep, Elliott will be back for the Seahawks after serving a six-game suspension as a penalty for a domestic violence incident. Elliott’s numbers were also down a bit from his rookie year before his suspension, averaging 4.1 yards per carry as opposed to 5.1 in 2016. He still leads Dallas with 783 yards on 191 carries and seven touchdowns. He is said to have spent his time off working out in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, returning to the Cowboys’ practice facility Monday afternoon. He is also reported by TMZ to have bet former NFL running back great Eric Dickerson that he would rush for 200 yards in his return with Dickerson betting him a jersey if he gets it. So there’s that.
TE Jason Witten: The 15-year vet has the fourth-most receptions in NFL history with 1,145. He also on Sunday passed the 500-yard mark in receiving for the 14th straight year, becoming just the fifth player in NFL history to accomplish that feat.
Strong safety Jeff Heath: Seahawks fans may remember Heath for his hit on Ricardo Lockette on a punt that ultimately ended Lockette’s career. Heath was mostly a special-teams player then but this season has emerged as Dallas’ starting strong safety and leads the team in interceptions with three and has 59 tackles. He also made a season-saving play for Dallas on Sunday with his tackle of Oakland quarterback Derek Carr in the final seconds that forced a fumble and a touchback to preserve a 20-17 win.
Fresh off its worst loss in seven years, Seattle has to travel to Dallas to face a Cowboys team that appears to be finding its stride and now gets maybe its best player back in Elliott. The Cowboys were 5-3 when Elliott was suspended and the team set a goal to stay in the playoff hunt until he returned. That looked dicey when Dallas lost the first three games following his suspension to Atlanta, the Eagles and Chargers all by at least 20 points. But Dallas relied on its defense and a softer schedule to stay alive for the postseason with three straight wins against Washington, the Giants and the Raiders, not allowing more than 17 points or 330 yards against any of the three. Even without Elliott, the Cowboys were a decent running team, averaging 121.3 yards in the six games he missed. They averaged 148.2 in the games Elliott played, and will undoubtedly seek to control the game on the ground against Seattle. Prescott has been a more effective runner this year than last season, averaging 6.3 yards per carry in 2017 compare to 4.9 as a rookie, and is just 24 yards away from breaking the team’s season record for rushing yards by a quarterback set by Roger Staubach in 1971 (Staubach had 343, Prescott has 320). Dallas’ defense, while being stingy of late, has done it without making a lot of big plays. The Cowboys haven’t had a sack in four of the past five games after notching 25 in the first seven of the season, and Dallas also has not forced a turnover in three of the past five games. Dallas’ return to defensive form coincided with the return of linebacker Sean Lee, who missed three games at midseason with a hamstring injury. A first-team All-Pro pick last year, Lee has 80 tackles in nine games this season.