Whelp. It's here. Ezekiel Elliott is suspended. Right or wrong, it was bound to happen eventually, and now the Cowboys must face the Falcons in Atlanta without arguably the biggest piece of their offense. Are they up to the task?
Right now it's a toss-up figuring out who will be given the bulk of the carries. Alfred Morris seems to be the favorite among the coaching staff, though I have my doubts. I've said it all year, Darren McFadden has earned the second spot behind Elliott. He's answered every call for this team and stayed healthy, a big surprise considering his history. But McFadden has been inactive all season.
Rod Smith is a guy many know about, thanks to his brother Jaylon Smith and the journey he's had up to this point. He's a monster on special teams and the few times he's been given the ball during a game, he's been quite explosive. His level of energy alone is enough to say he should be given a solid chance to do something over these next six weeks.
Last week against the Kansas City Chiefs… I don't know about you but that was a fun game. Maybe it was hearing Tony Romo's play-by-play, but that whole game was just fun. So fun that the injuries during the game didn't really even register, especially not the two late injuries to Terrance Williams and Dez Bryant. Bryant says he's going to play this week, while Brian price, who was also hurt last week, is now on IR.
But perhaps the bigger injury story right now is left tackle Tyron Smith. He's been battling back issues for a couple of years now, even missing time last year, and he's out for this contest as well.
The discussion surrounding Chaz Green this season has been all about left guard, not tackle, even though he was drafted as a swing tackle and projected at that position until Ronald Leary left for Denver. Green recently lost the starting LG job to Jonathan Cooper, who seems to be an integral part of the Cowboys' surging running game of late. Now it looks as though Green will get the nod in Smith's absence.
ITS Junior Writer Mauricio Rodriguez broke down Chaz Green's play at left tackle in the NFL to give us an idea of how he'll do tomorrow. Check it out if you missed it this morning.
The Cowboys are healthy across the rest of the offense. Yes, Geoff Swaim is injured, but he isn't a big part of the game plan, even with an increased role these last few weeks. Dak Prescott, Cole Beasley, Jason Witten, Zack Martin, all healthy and ready to go. Zeke is a special runner, no doubt, but it's time for the next man up.
What about the defense? They've strung together an impressive set of performances lately, surpassing I'd imagine even the coaching staff's expectations. Are they great? Nah. But they're getting the job done. They'll need to be on top of their game to stop Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, not to mention Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
As always, I encourage you to add your own predictions for the game in our comments section below.
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No Zeke, No Problem
The Cowboys are getting ready to play their first game without Ezekiel Elliott since 2015. It's going to be a challenge. Fortunately, the Falcons are not the threat we expected at the beginning of the season and I'm confident in Dak Prescott's ability to lead the Cowboys to victory as he scores three touchdowns. Mauricio Rodriguez – @PepoR99
Cowboys 24 – Falcons 20
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Never had a chance
Bottom line? The chances of winning without Zeke and Tyron are greatly diminished and if Dez is limited at all, those odds shrink closer to zero. Goodell cackles wildly in the distance as the Cowboys are completely dominated by the Atlanta Falcons who are back on the playoff track. The combination of Freeman and Coleman wreak havoc in the second level of this Cowboys defense that stayed on the field way too long; looking as tired as us fans are of the seemingly unlimited legal proceedings and this awful CBA. Brace yourselves for panic in big D. Christopher Wätjen – @SingForTheDay
Cowboys 17 – Falcons 35
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Cowboys March Through Atlanta
It'd be easy to dismiss the Cowboys now that Ezekiel Elliott is out, but the Falcons are just 18th against the run. However the carries are distributed between Dallas' three RBs, they should be effective. Jason Garrett is a master motivator, and I predict the Cowboys will rally behind Zeke's absence. Jess Haynie – @CowboysAddicts
Cowboys 34 – Falcons 28
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Dak Prescott Carries Cowboys on His Back in Offensive Shootout
Of course, as we all know, Ezekiel Elliott will not be on the field Sunday as the Cowboys take on the Falcons. While that is an enormous blow for the offense, Dak Prescott is playing out of his mind. I'm really starting to wonder if this offense can take it to another level when Dak Prescott is running the show. I expect a huge game from Dak Prescott, maybe his career best. Connor Livesay – @connorx147
Cowboys 38 – Falcons 35
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Pass Rush Prevails, Cowboys Win Fourth Straight
The National Football League is impossible to predict. A year ago, the Dallas Cowboys were a win away from setting up an NFC Championship game against these Falcons at AT&T Stadium. I thought all along that, should they have beaten the Packers, the Cowboys would have had a very hard time beating that Falcons team. Now, they are set to face them on the road without Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith – yet I'm picking them to win against a banged up Atlanta team. I am completely sold on this pass rush being good enough to win games, and with that, Dak Prescott and Alfred Morris can score just enough to keep this momentum rolling in Dallas. Sean Martin – @SeanMartinNFL
Cowboys 21 – Falcons 17
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Cowboys Soar Over Falcons Without Ezekiel Elliott
The Atlanta Falcons aren't the same team we watched play the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. They have struggled on both sides of the ball this season and I think the Dallas Cowboys can take advantage of that. Even without Ezekiel Elliott, I believe the Cowboys will lean on the running game and control time of possession. This strategy will once again lead them to victory. Brian Martin – @BrianMartinNFL
Cowboys 28 – Falcons 20
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Dak and Lee Lead the Way
When LB Sean Lee is in the game, Dallas only allows 18 points per game. If you remove the Denver game that number drops to 13. While Ezekiel Elliott's absence will be noted, Dak Prescott and the defense are the differences in this one. John Williams – @john9williams
Cowboys 28 – Falcons 17
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I think this is going to be an important game for the Cowboys going forward. If they can compete, and potentially win on the road against the Falcons, it will do wonders for their confidence without Ezekiel Elliott. It's going to be a tall task, but I think the Cowboys are just a better team than Atlanta. Kevin Brady – @KevinBrady88
Cowboys 30 – Falcons 27
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Leave Alf in the 90s, Where He Belongs
Nothing would please me more than watching the Cowboys ball out without offensive centerpiece, Ezekiel Elliott, nothing. I just don't like what I've been seeing behind Zeke. I have zero confidence in Alfred Morris to get the job done, and yet I know he'll be the lead back tomorrow. Dak looks good right now, but Alf is going to be too much for him to overcome. Players before scheme, Dallas. Bryson Treece – @BrysonTreece
Cowboys 20 – Falcons 23
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So we're mostly behind the Cowboys, going 7-2 for the win. Whatever happens tomorrow, the only thing I know for certain is that it won't go exactly as any of us expect. We've never seen this team execute a game plan without Zeke. Last time it happened, Elliott was still at Ohio State. So we've got to wait and see.
Share your game picks below and, as always, Go Cowboys!