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Will Cowboys Be Able to Overcome Seahawks In Prime Time?

The opening night of the NFL playoffs on Saturday will have two similar teams squaring off in the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys. Both teams are built behind the running game and strong defenses and each has lost only once since mid-November. The Cowboys have home-field advantage but that doesn’t seem to be a huge benefit when facing a Russell Wilson-led squad when the lights are the brightest. The Seahawks are an astounding 5-0 ATS in the last five games as an underdog in a prime-time game and 25-6-4 ATS in their last 35 games at night.

The Cowboys opened as 1-point favorites (since moved to -2.5) with a total of 41.5 (since moved to 42.5).

  • The Seahawks lead the NFL in rushing yards per game (160.0).
  • The Cowboys are 7-1 SU and 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 games.
  • The OVER has hit in 7 of the Seahawks’ last 8 games.

Seahawks vs Cowboys Game Center

Based on Night Game Trends, Seahawks Should Be the Fave

For anyone who has followed OddsShark over the years and read a betting preview involving the Seahawks, you will have read a lot about how they fare in prime-time games. The Seahawks have been rock stars for bettors when getting to play at night and before I gush about them for two more paragraphs, here is a quick rundown of betting trends that paint a great picture for Seattle’s chances to not only cover but to win outright:

  • 11-2 SU in last 13 prime-time games.
  • 11-2 ATS in last 13 prime-time games as an underdog.
  • 25-6-4 ATS in last 35 prime-time games.
  • 12-3 ATS in last 15 prime-time games vs teams with winning records.
  • 22-5-1 SU in last 28 prime-time games with Russell Wilson as the quarterback.

That last trend really speaks to me because Wilson will be the key reason if the Seahawks win on Saturday. Russ has thrown an incredible 52 touchdowns and only 14 interceptions in those 28 contests while averaging 8.1 yards per passing attempt. In his career vs NFC East teams, he’s 11-2 SU with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions but one of those losses was to the Cowboys back in 2014. Wilson’s ability to scramble and take off with the ball is integral to Seattle’s rushing attack that leads the NFL in rushing yards per game (160.0).

The main nagging factor for why I think the Seahawks could get themselves in trouble is their defense. They lead the league in turnover differential at +15 but somehow allowed both the Cardinals and 49ers, who both rank in the bottom five in points scored per game, to score over 20 points on them in Weeks 15 and 17. If they don’t clamp down on the Cowboys and allow Wilson to get sacked repeatedly (the Seahawks are 25th in the NFL in sacks allowed this season), these prime-time trends will need to be curbed.

Is the Cowboys’ Recent Surge a Mirage?

I was at the Cowboys game when they hosted and lost 28-14 to the Titans in Week 9 and fell to 3-5 SU. I turned to my friend after the game and basically muttered some curse words and said the season was all but over. Well, happily, I was wrong as the Cowboys proceeded to go 7-1 SU and 6-1-1 ATS in their remaining eight games. But I knew they would be in trouble if they had to play a team like the Seahawks because there is so much pressure for the Cowboys to get a lead early.

During that 7-1 run, the Cowboys scored first in each win and their lone loss was a spanking by the Colts when the offense looked completely inept and got shut out for the first time since 2003. I know that seems like a hollow trend but I think the Cowboys offense is so predictable that if they can’t get an early lead, their defense hasn’t proven to be strong enough to hold teams off while the offense finds a groove.

When these teams faced each other in Seattle in Week 3, the Dallas offense was limited to 13 points and QB Dak Prescott had arguably his worst game as a professional. However, with this game being played in Arlington, Prescott may have more of a fighting chance. His stats at home this season are much more encouraging for bettors planning to back Dallas, with 14 touchdowns to only three interceptions and a decent 8.04 yards per attempt.

With these teams being so similar, I’d stay away from the spread on both sides and stick to the moneyline, and Cowboys backers will be happy to know they’re 11-3 SU in their last 14 games as a prime-time favorite. They also haven’t lost at home since I left Texas so that has to count for something, right?

When Seahawks Take the Field, the OVER Seems to Follow

The total opened at 41.5 (since moved to 42.5) and while these teams lead with defense and rushing attacks, trends are pointing to an OVER for this wild-card game. The OVER has hit in seven of the Seahawks’ last eight games with an average combined score of 53.8 points per game. The OVER has also hit in five of the Cowboys’ last seven games at home with an average combined score of 45.2 points per game.

My Pick Is…

To take the OVER. I’ve gone back and forth on each team’s moneyline and while I lean to the Seahawks, I think the OVER is the smarter play. The Cowboys offense has proven to be much better at home this season and the Seahawks haven’t scored less than 20 points since Week 9.