What to watch in Thursday’s game between the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks

The season starts now for the Dallas Cowboys and everyone knows it.

Sure, they are 8-3 and riding high as winners of five of their last six games.

Quarterback Dak Prescott is playing as well as any quarterback in the league. The Cowboys lead the NFL in scoring offense.

And the Cowboys are second in the NFL in passing defense.

But the Cowboys have no wins against teams with winning records and begin a stretch against the Seattle Seahawks (6-5) Thursday where they will play five straight games against teams with records of .500 or better.

After the Seahawks, the Philadelphia Eagles (10-1), Buffalo Bills (6-6), Miami Dolphins (8-3) and Detroit Lions (8-3) are on the schedule.

When asked earlier this week about his hot play and presence as an MVP candidate, Prescott basically said his attitude is “he hasn’t done (expletive).”

“The challenge is just staying true to that process, not getting ahead, not getting overwhelmed, understanding what I say to myself is I haven’t done (expletive),” Prescott said. “Numbers are great, getting wins, that’s what’s most important. “But at the end of the day we’re trying to stack and keep growing this team to get better each and every week.”

It’s the same attitude many people have about the Cowboys success. They haven’t done anything because they haven’t beat anyone with a winning record.

Now is the time for them prove who they are, starting with Seattle (6-5).

“The teams we’ve played ... their records haven’t been great,” Prescott said. “But I can promise everybody that comes in and that we play, we do get their best shot. As we move forward with teams with better records, we’re going to get their best shots. So it’s important for us to continue to grow and build on what we’ve done and understand that yeah, we’ve won some games. We’ve won some games in a tough league. But at the end of the day it’s about the next game, and right now a good Seattle team is coming in.

Prescott said the Cowboys have played well of late because they have focused on themselves and their own journey. They will continue to do the same in this next stretch, starting with Seattle.

“So once gain we know we’re going to get people’s best shot but not only that they’re playing for a lot more this latter part of the season. And so are we,” Prescott said. ”I mean everything that we wants is still in front of us. As long as we control what’s on our hands or on our plates, that’s our focus and our goal. And that’s what we’re going to do.”

What to watch in Thursday’s game:

Protecting AT&T Stadium

No one has played better at home in 2023 than the Cowboys, who have won 13 straight at AT&T Stadium. They are also the first team in NFL history to win each of their first five home games by 20-plus points.

Again none of their previous five opponents having winning records.

Thursday’s matchup against Seattle is the second of three straight games at home and the first of two against team with winning records.

Edge rusher Micah Parsons says this is a stretch where the Cowboys need to continue their home dominance and prove something to the rest of the NFL.

“For sure. It’s a chance, especially with some of them at home and get some statement wins where we got to start learning how to win on the road and things like that,” Parsons said. “So we got some good opportunities coming up here during this stretch and keep dominating at home.”

Can DaRon Bland continue DPOY run

Parsons came into the 2023 season as the league-wide favorite for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

He was the runner up in each of the past two seasons and with him playing in the edge for majority of the team in 2023, he was expected to rack up extraordinary numbers and run away with the award.

Parsons is having a great season with 11.5 sacks and 23 quarterbacks hits. And he is a big reason why the Cowboys are second in the NFL in sack percentage.

But another Cowboys player has stolen his thunder in terms of overwhelming defensive play.

Cornerback DaRon Bland, who replaced the injured Trevon Diggs in Week 3, has taken the league by storm. He has made NFL history with five interception returns for touchdowns. He leads in the NFL with seven interceptions and has now has Parsons’ vote for DPOY.

“I’m super excited. It’s kind of weird because me and (Trevon Diggs) had a big bet against each other on who was going to win,” Parsons said. “To see him go out and then now I’m like, ‘I lost Tre, I got this in the bag.’ And then I see DaRon Bland the dark horse. He’s always the dark horse that comes out of nowhere. It’s always fun.

“I think there’s a lot of greatness on this team. When you get to witness greatness and things that haven’t been done before, I think that kind of triumphs the type of personal or small goals that you have in mind. I always say, ‘I love greatness in any sport.’ So right now I’m amazed about DB and I’m kind of all DB right now.”

Cowboys bracing for physical game vs. Seattle

Thursday’s game against the Seahawks is arguably the most grueling of a an arduous stretch of three games in 12 games . It’s been physically and mentally taxing for the Cowboys.

It started with the 33-10 victory at the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 19 and then the 45-10 victory against Washington Commanders on Nov. 23.

And while there are seven days between the Commanders game and the Seattle game, the totality of it all is still struggle.

Making the task even tougher is the Seahawks’ style of play. The are a run-oriented team and will be physical on both sides of the ball.

“It’ll start with our run defense being challenged, when they line up with the ball.” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy. “I think both teams take a lot of pride in how we play. We’re looking at this as it’s gonna be an extremely physical, active football game.”

The good news is that once the Cowboys get past Seattle they have 10 days before they host the division-leading Philadelphia Eagles Dec. 10.