With how evenly matched the Seahawks and Cowboys are, their NFC wild-card showdown will be decided by the players who can separate either side from the other. Here are more to watch.
QB Russell Wilson
Saying a quarterback is an impact player might seem obvious. It’s also impossible to ignore. In all the searching for reasons for Seattle’s surprising success this season, Wilson remains at the top of the list, having turned in the most efficient, if not the best, statistical passing season of his career. He has a franchise-record 35 touchdown passes and a career-high passer rating of 110.9. Wilson has been a little spottier in the playoffs in his career, though, with a 12-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 12 postseason games. He needs to avoid mistakes for Seattle to go far.
RB Chris Carson
SEAHAWKS vs. COWBOYS
NFC Wild Card
Saturday, Jan. 5 | 5:15 p.m. | FOX
Carson is emblematic of Seattle’s return-to-form this season, having gained 1,151 yards, the first Seahawk since Marshawn Lynch in 2014 to top the 1,000-yard mark. Carson capped the regular season with three consecutive 100-yard-plus games. Seattle was 6-2 when Carson had 83 or more yards this season, 3-3 when he had less (he missed two other games), the two defeats were the close shaves against the Rams.
MLB Bobby Wagner
The seventh-year linebacker had maybe the best season of his career, making 138 tackles while not being officially charged with a single miss. Wagner also took on an even greater leadership role this season in the wake of the departures of Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, and then Earl Thomas four games into the season. Wagner will need to be the same sure-tackling, steadying force for Seattle to beat the Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott, who led the NFL in rushing this year with 1,434 yards.
RB Ezekiel Elliott
Elliott led the NFL with 1,434 rushing yards this season, and he didn’t even play in the Cowboys season finale. Oh, 127 of those yards came against the Seahawks in Week 3. Ken Norton Jr.’s group will need to keep Elliott in check Saturday night.
LB Leighton Vander Esch
This rookie linebacker led all rookies and was third in the NFL with 140 tackles this season. He and Jaylon Smith form perhaps the NFL’s most formidable linebacker duo. That partnership will be focused on slowing the Seahawks’ running game Saturday.
WR Amari Cooper
Cooper was not a Cowboy when the Seahawks conquered Dallas in Week 3. But when he did meet the Seattle secondary as a member of the Raiders, Cooper was held without a catch in London. He’ll need to make more of an impact if the Cowboys hope to reach the divisional round.