e Seahawks are 94% to get the 5-seed so yes https://www.theseahawksfanshop.com/hats , let’s talk about this matchup briefly. Or at least, let’s talk about the Cowboys.Dallas is on a five-game winning streak, improving from 3-5 to 8-5 as the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington footballs fail into nothingness this season. This all but assures the Cowboys the NFC East following a win over the Eagles on Sunday. Dallas is also now second in points allowed, fourth in yards allowed, and first in yards per carry allowed as they develop a reputation as the “new dominant defense” in the NFC. This is not me saying that the Cowboys are overrated, this is me asking: Why does FootballOutsiders say that the Cowboys are overrated?Despite a hot streak, Dallas is still only 17th in weighted DVOA (putting more emphasis on a team’s most recent games) and actually ranked below the collapsing Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, and New York Giants. We should take a closer look at why DVOA would not care much about their winning streak.First of all, just before the win streak, the Cowboys lost back-to-back games to Washington (on the road) and the Tennessee Titans (at home). The Titans won 28-14 and shutout Dallas in the second half. In that game, Dallas had a negative offensive performance by EPA and their second-worst defensive performance of the season, failing to keep Marcus Mariota from going 21-of-29 for 240 yards and two touchdowns. He consistently tore through the Cowboys secondary in that game and it did come in Dallas.But the Cowboys haven’t lost since.Dallas next went on the road and beat the Eagles 27-20, again posting a negative EPA on defense. The game was tied 20-20 late as a 75-yard touchdown drive gave the Cowboys a lead with 3:19 left. Carson Wentz had two more opportunities, but both drives fell short. Note: Dallas did a terrible job of putting the game away on the final drive, losing six yards and running off just :16 seconds as Philly had all three timeouts. The Eagles are 20th in DVOA and 21st in weighted DVOA.Next, they beat the Falcons in Atlanta, 22-19. They blew a 19-9 fourth quarter lead as Matt Ryan found Julio Jones in the end zone to tie it with 1:52 remaining. Dak Prescott led a game-winning drive (42-yard field goal), but the Falcons are 22nd in DVOA and 20th in weighted DVOA. Atlanta is 4-9, 3-4 at home, and have lost five straight.On four days rest, the Cowboys next hosted Washington on Thanksgiving. Washington started Colt McCoy at QB, his first start since 2014. We’ll never know how good McCoy really could be this season, it was his only full game, but he had two touchdowns in the first 36 minutes as Washington led 13-10 midway through the third quarter. Then Dallas reeled off 21 straight points and asserted dominance. It got out of hand when Prescott got a 90-yard touchdown to Amari Cooper, then McCoy was picked off two plays later which eventually turned into seven more points for the Cowboys. They closed the gap to 31-20 early in the fourth quarter and I’ll note again that Dallas couldn’t get the game-sealing type drive they wanted: 3 plays, 0 yards, :28 seconds off.Washington is 26th in DVOA and 27th in weighted DVOA.Now the game most people will point to: 13-10 win over the New Orleans Saints. And let’s point out one weird thing — this game was also on Thursday. The NFL set up both the Cowboys and Saints for a Thursday Night game with seven days rest in order to try and avoid those awfully short turnarounds they usually force on teams. But I think playing on Thursday could be weird either way. Not to ignore the job they did on Drew Brees, who went 18-of-28 for 127 yards Seattle Seahawks Hoodie , one touchdown, and one interception.Strangely, Brees fell flat again the next week too against the terrible Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 24-of-31, 201 yards, one touchdown, one interception. It’s fair to ask if something is up with Brees or that offense right now.Perhaps most importantly, Dallas did a number on containing Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, holding the Saints to a by far season-low of 10 points. Prescott, on the other hand, went 24-of-28 for 249 yards and one touchdown. Still, this was a very close game, and Dallas had one of their worst offensive performances of the season, not even scoring a point in the second half. That’s the dark lining on the cloud, but they beat the team ranked fourth in DVOA and third in weighted DVOA. That’s not to be discounted.Finally, they beat the Eagles this Sunday, but offensive struggles continued. They managed just six points in the first half (that’s six points and zero touchdowns over a stretch of four quarters if going back to New Orleans) and led 9-6 going into the fourth quarter. Then: scoring. It was 16-9, 16-16, 23-16, and 23-23 after a touchdown pass by Wentz with 1:39 remaining. On the final drive in regulation, they got as close as the PHI 41, but despite two timeouts remaining at the start of the drive, poor ball control (fumble), protection (final play was a sack) hurt Dallas, while a critical defensive holding call gave them a first down.The Cowboys were the only team to have the ball in OT, using an eight minute drive, a conversion on 3rd-and-9, and a conversion on 4th-and-1 to finally get a game-winning touchdown from Dak to Cooper. And that’s a review of the five-game winning streak. Oddly, I don’t see a strong defensive performance in any of these games other than against by far the best offense they faced. How do you quantify the value of that? These are five wins over four teams, three of which are bad teams, and one of whom is great. Three of the wins are also at home Earl Thomas III Color Rush Jersey , where the Cowboys are 6-1 outside of that weird loss to Tennessee. Four of the wins were close enough to go either way, and I actually wouldn’t say Dallas played great fourth quarters in any of them. The offense could have done more in the game in Philly, the game in Atlanta, and at home vs New Orleans, while the defense couldn’t get a stop in the rematch against the Eagles.This is not me telling you the Cowboys are overrated, this is me going over why DVOA might suggest they are overrated with an evaluation of their five-game win streak. At home they are certainly better and that’s where any wild card playoff game will take place ... which could be the Seahawks, unless maybe the Chicago Bears fall a notch.That’s a whole different article. This week is being dominated by the focus on Richard Sherman’s return to CenturyLink Field. For that reason, it’s descended into a weird blend of sadness and heartache. Nobody seems to know how to behave. Indeed, people are debating what reception the future Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor member should receive. Oh, and PLEASE DON’T TEST HIM, BRIAN SCHOTTENHEIMER. Wasn’t that win over the Panthers fun though?! Let’s return to that joyous area of solace one more time. For me personally, that win was needed. Some context:Having coached defensive backs for a British university game in a disappointing loss, I was faced with the prospects of a bitter wind and a three hour long trip back home. I was miserable. The Seattle Seahawks kicked off in 30 minutes. Worse, my cell data was running out. Rather than risk my lack of data on a train journey that was sure to disrupt my phone service, I decided to seek shelter in a nearby Wetherspoons.For those who don’t know, Wetherspoons is a cheap British pub chain. Think Buffalo Wild Wings. Except it doesn’t have American beer, wings, or football. It’s not really like a BWW at all. It’s lovably crap, like Tanner McEvoy. (Sorry Tanner!) Plus it’s cheap. It was pleasant settling down by a plug and using Wetherspoons’ complimentary Wi-Fi. (Get in touch about sponsoring Seahawks on tape) Gradually thawing and re-hydrating with a pint of English Ale, I watched my five inch screen in wonder. Hyperventilating as Sebastian Janikowski came good, a startled pub was left staring at this strange fanatic.The game finished at 9.30 PM UK time. Due to cancelled trains and various mishaps, I ended up getting home at 3 AM—ah, the magic of time zones. Yet, it was all worth it!The shear amount of ridiculous, scheme beating plays Seattle made was particularly enjoyable. This iteration of the Seahawks are one of the toughest. They do not quit, even in the most testing and difficult circumstances. Against Carolina, nothing epitomized this more than Bobby Wagner limiting a screen gain and Tre Flowers stopping a mesh short.Scheme beating WagnerPete Carroll’s take:Viewing on my cell, this was the type of play where I thought I’d missed something at first:A forever desperate Seattle pass rush attacked Newton up field. The under center formation freed the edge rushers from the shackles of having to stay disciplined for a read-option keeper. They hungrily hunted.Norv Turner’s playcall was ahead of the Seahawks. The man coverage was run off by routes downfield. Austin Calitro turned his back on the play when desperately trying to get underneath deep over routes. Wagner was the only player with eyes on McCaffrey. McCaffrey’s quick catch and turn up field saw him have three offensive linemen leading, and Wagner 15 yards away from the ball. However, Wagner’s approach was superb in both its speed and patience. He came downhill aiming for the outside blocker while keeping his outside shoulder free. This angle of attack was designed to turn McCaffrey back inside to where there were more Seattle defenders.Wagner’s ability to get closer to McCaffrey quickly and avoid a double team meant that the running back had to slow behind his blockers. The delay saw McCaffrey clearly become wary of cutting back inside because the pursuing defensive line managed to get up field. Having maintained his outside-in leverage Marshawn Lynch Color Rush Jersey , Wagner was then able to disengage from Trai Turner’s block, one that he’d been controlling for some time, and then wrap a shifty McCaffrey for just an 8-yard gain. Not even a first down! This type of play should have been a touchdown for the Panthers!Scheme beating FlowersPete Carroll’s take:Like Wagner, Flowers was not supposed to make this play. Like Wagner, Flowers somehow got it done. He broke the rules and logic of football: another scheme beater.Carolina was in a 3rd and 7 situation. They had the chance to end the game with a first down. Turner called the perfect play against press Seahawks cover-1 pass defense, a mesh call designed to create separation with the two crossing routes. As Carroll said, the Panthers were trying to pick off Flowers with the shallow crossing route of Jarius Wright. Yet, as Flowers ran across the field chasing the crosser of D.J. Moore, he showed an awareness far above his rookie experience to avoid the pick and stay in phase with Moore. Wagner’s green dog blitz removed any chance of the Newton throwing the ball deeper, forcing the quarterback to settle for Moore. Flowers first tried to swat the pass incomplete and then sharply brought the elusive receiver down in the open field. This vanquished what would have been a game-ending first down and more. Carolina was left settling for three points that never arrived, following Graham Gano’s miss. For the second successive game, Seattle ran a cover-1 press against trips on the crucial third down, and their defenders executed. Some perspectiveDespite the pair of covered scheme beating plays, we must not become deluded from reality: the Seahawks’ defense struggled last Sunday. Turner’s smart game plan saw Seattle give up the most yards they’d allowed all year. The Seahawks surrendered 8.4 yards per play. Cam Newton completed a staggering 83.3% of his passes facing a flaccid pass rush. The pass coverage was stressed and couldn’t work out the communication needed for the deep over routes in behind the linebackers. The run defense was also limp. All year, backup linebackers have struggled to get over the top of linemen into gaps to turn the play back. Meanwhile, defensive linemen have been pushed out of their gap.Particularly troublesome was the Panthers using orbit motion to create triple option looks. Leaving the defensive end unblocked to crash inside, Carolina blocked the overhang EDGE and ran inside the two on read-option keepers. As Seattle started fast flowing and keeping the defensive end at home, the Panthers hit them with the reverse plays. Essentially, the Seahawks had little answer to the orbit triple option look and deep crossers. In fact, Turner can be criticized for not running these plays more frequently. The orbit triple option look inside the redzone didn’t happen, despite Carolina experiencing great difficulties inside the 20.The wildcard team no one wants to face?That important, large caveat addressed, the two remarkable plays from Wagner and Flowers were still bright moments. Right now, the defense right is one that manages to tighten inside the redzone and make big plays. As a young secondary grows more familiar with each other, the coverage effectiveness will grow. As Mychal Kendricks returns and Nazair Jones continues to be involved, the run defense should get better too. That’s the most exciting aspect to the defense, and the team overall. Seattle can only get better. And they’re certainly improving. The playoff run for the Seahawks has begun; these types of scheme beating plays are just one small part of what makes 2018 Seattle deadly. Their outlook has become spicier than the upcoming matchup against Richard Sherman. The Seahawks now look like the wildcard team absolutely no one wants to face—not opposition fans, players or coaches.