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49ers Defense to Pose Problems for Cowboys Running Game

The Dallas Cowboys have struggled to put together any kind of consistency week to week in 2020. Even before Dak Prescott was injured, the offense was still struggling with turnovers and poor play from the offensive line that often they weren’t as efficient as they should have been. Things haven’t been playoff good enough in 2020, but they’ve made some interesting strides with Andy Dalton at QB.

The Cowboys running game, led by Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard has struggled to find running room this season behind an offensive line that has just Connor Williams and Joe Looney as projected week one starters in the league.

The San Francisco 49ers defense comes in with the most total expected points added against the run in the NFL. Robert Saleh’s defense is allowing just 3.9 yards per carry, which is tied for third in the NFL. Their 105.8 rushing yards per game allowed is eighth in the league.

On the Dallas Cowboys side of things, the running game hasn’t been able to find any consistency this season. Though they’re 11th in the NFL in rushing expected points added, they’re 18th in the NFL in rushing yards per game. The Cowboys are tied for 17th in the NFL in yards per attempt at 4.2 yards per carry. That’s a far cry from the dominant running games the Cowboys have rolled out since 2014.

Even against the Cinncinati Bengals last Sunday the Cowboys struggled to get anything going consistently on the ground.

If the Dallas Cowboys have a desire to win this football game they might have to find another way than on the ground. If starting running back Ezekiel Elliott is unavailable for this Sunday or is limited then more will be placed on Tony Pollard’s shoulders to carry the running game.

Tony Pollard is averaging 4.5 yards per carry on the season and has 19 runs for a first down and nine runs of 10 yards or more. He’s averaging 3.63 yards per carry after contact, which among running backs with at least 59 carries on the season, puts Pollard at fifth in the NFL. For reference Ezekiel Elliott is 39th in the league this season.

San Francisco may not be the team that we saw make it to the Super Bowl this past February, but they are still a well-coached team with a ton of talent on the defensive side of the football. Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh will have the 49ers ready to slow down the Dallas Cowboys running game this week. The Cowboys have to figure out a way to get the ball moving on the ground so they aren’t so reliant on Andy Dalton and the passing game.

What do you think?

John Williams

Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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