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3 bold predictions for Cowboys-Seahawks: CeeDee Lamb won’t just get his first career TD -- he’ll pull down two

Also: Here’s how the Dallas defense could create interception opportunities against Russell Wilson and Co.

It’s going to be hard to top Week 2′s win against the Falcons, but Cowboys-Seahawks on Sunday is just as exciting of a matchup.

Both quarterbacks are playing at extremely high levels -- Dak Prescott is coming off a four-touchdown game in which he threw for 450 yards, while Russell Wilson has accumulated nine touchdowns with just 11 incompletions in two games.

Both defenses are struggling -- the Cowboys gave up 39 points to Atlanta while the Seahawks have allowed the most total yards (970) in the NFL so far.

Both teams have already been hit by the injury bug, but the Cowboys' injuries at cornerback could really compromise their ability to slow down Seattle’s offense.

Anthony Brown is on injured reserve and Chidobe Awuzie has been sidelined for multiple weeks by a hamstring injury, which is worrisome enough without mentioning that rookie Trevon Diggs missed practice Wednesday because of a shoulder injury.

Luckily for the Cowboys, Diggs is still expected to play Sunday, according to The Dallas Morning News' Michael Gehlken.

This means Diggs and Jourdan Lewis will be primarily responsible for covering Seattle’s potent wide receiver duo of D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. That matchup clearly favors the Seahawks, so the Cowboys need their pass rush to finally step up to even the odds, or things could get ugly for coordinator Mike Nolan and his defense.

In any case, this game projects to be a high-scoring affair between two of the league’s best offenses.

With that in mind, let’s get bold and make some predictions for Cowboys-Seahawks.

Pre-snap disguise leads to INT for Cowboys' defense

It was a rough day at the office for the Cowboys' defense last time out, when it struggled to stop quarterback Matt Ryan and the Falcons' offense for much of the game.

That said, the defense did do an excellent job with pre-snap disguises aimed at confusing Ryan as he dropped back.

Here’s an example:

On this play, the Cowboys match Atlanta’s 3-by-1 shotgun formation (three eligible receivers to one side, one eligible receiver to the other) with a Cover 1 shell (man coverage with a deep safety).

The key to this pre-snap disguise is Xavier Woods.

Woods follows Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst on his short motion, indicating to Ryan that the Cowboys are playing man coverage. But just before the ball is snapped, Woods bails deep to a split-safety role, revealing that Dallas is actually playing a drop-eight, Tampa 2 coverage concept -- three-deep, five-under coverage with two split safeties and the middle linebacker protecting the center of the field.

Once Ryan drops backs, it becomes obvious he was flummoxed by the Cowboys' pre-snap disguise, as he was not prepared for zone coverage after everything had indicated man. The defensive line didn’t do a good job with its rush lanes, giving Ryan an easy escape route for a first down, which just goes to show that one little mistake can ruin a great scheme against talented offenses.

Against the Seahawks, expect the Cowboys to use similar pre-snap disguises to try to confuse Wilson. And after lacking pass-rush coordination last week, expect the defensive line to do a better job with its rush lanes in hopes of containing Wilson in the pocket.

Combine effective pre-snap disguising with proper rush lane management, and that could lead to an interception opportunity or two against the aggressive Wilson.

Dallas O-line allows fewer than 5 pressures and 2 sacks

Although Dallas' pass protection has been concerning at times, it matches up well against Seattle’s pass rush -- or lack thereof. The Seahawks have registered just three total sacks this season, two of which came on blitzes by Jamal Adams.

Seattle simply lacks the pass-rush talent to be effective with just its front four, which is why it’s blitzing at a much higher rate so far (35.9%) compared to years past.

Benson Mayowa is an adequate pass rusher, but the fact he’s Seattle’s premier edge rusher shows how shallow the defensive line is from that standpoint. On the other side of Mayowa is former first-round pick L.J. Collier, of TCU, who has just three pressures so far.

Jarran Reed definitely deserves the Cowboys' respect along the interior -- he’s Seattle’s best defensive lineman and has a history of pass-rush success, recording 10.5 sacks during the 2018 season. That said, he’s a much easier defensive tackle to block than Aaron Donald and Grady Jarrett, players Dallas had to deal with in Weeks 1 and 2.

Nose tackle Poona Ford, of Texas, can be a big problem in the run game. He’s not very effective as a pass rusher, generating zero pressures so far.

All of this is to say that Prescott should have plenty of time to throw the ball, especially if left tackle Tyron Smith returns to the lineup. If Smith doesn’t, the Cowboys can continue to use chip blocks and play-action to help inexperienced tackles Brandon Knight and Terence Steele on the edge.

The Seahawks are going to have to rely on blitzes to create pressure, which leaves them susceptible to big plays with fewer defenders in coverage.

Still, I expect Dallas' offensive line to put together its best performance of the season -- especially in pass protection.

CeeDee Lamb posts 100-plus receiving yards, 2 TDs

The Seahawks' defense has struggled mightily against slot receivers this season.

Atlanta’s Russell Gage made nine catches (on 12 targets) for 114 receiving yards in Week 1, and New England’s Julian Edelman posted eight catches (on 11 targets) for 179 yards in Week 2.

Don’t be surprised if that trend continues when Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb matches up against diminutive slot defender Ugo Amadi (5-9, 201 pounds).

Though just a rookie, Lamb has been one of the most effective slot receivers in the league, logging 10 catches (fifth among slot receivers) for 132 yards (third) from that alignment, according to Pro Football Focus.

Much of Lamb’s production has come against off and zone coverage. He’s displaying a knack for finding open spaces against zone, which Seattle uses regularly in its Cover 3-heavy defense.

But when the Cowboys needed someone to get open against press-man coverage in the fourth quarter of the Atlanta game, Lamb created separation before making an acrobat catch through contact due to a slightly inaccurate pass from Prescott (above clip).

And while Lamb has been effective before the catch, defenses should be really worried about what he does afterward -- he ranks third in yards after the catch per reception (7.5) among receivers with at least 10 targets, according to PFF.

With Quinton Dunbar and Shaquill Griffin providing an above-average cornerback duo on the outside, don’t be surprised if the Cowboys look to exploit Amadi with Lamb frequently. Lamb should dominate the smaller Amadi at the catch point, which could lead to a couple of touchdown opportunities in the red zone.

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Dallas Cowboys

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  • Offensive Coordinator: Kellen Moore
  • COO: Stephen Jones
  • Executive Vice President/Chief Brand Officer: Charlotte Jones Anderson
  • Chief Sales and Marketing Officer/Executive Vice President: Jerry Jones Jr.
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  • Owner: Jerry Jones
  • Defensive Coordinator: Mike Nolan

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