Nothing is set in stone just yet, but the likelihood of Ezekiel Elliott missing the next six games is at an all-time high. This news didn't sit well with a lot of Cowboys Nation and for good reason. This entire situation seemed like a witch hunt from the beginning, but there was hope Elliott would be exonerated and play the entire 2017 season. That doesn't seem to be the case now, but Elliott's suspension could end up being a blessing in disguise.
Now, I fully understand the mindset a lot of us have regarding Elliott's suspension. I've heard it all and probably thought the same way myself. You know, “Let's throw in the towel now because the Cowboys can't win without Elliott” or “Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden are more than capable of filling in during Elliott's absence”. But, I can promise you this. I truly believe the suspension is going to be a blessing in disguise.
But there is a catch. There always is. Right!?
In order for Ezekiel Elliott's suspension to become a blessing in disguise, the Dallas Cowboys have to keep themselves in playoff contention through these next six games. I truly believe that's doable because of the six teams they will face during Elliott's absence. Let's take a look.
Week 9 – Kansas City Chiefs
Week 10 – @Atlanta Falcons
Week 11 – Philadelphia Eagles
Week 12 – Los Angeles Chargers
Week 13 – Washington Redskins
Week 14 – @New York Giants
As you can see, this isn't the worst time for Ezekiel Elliott to serve his six-game suspension. The Dallas Cowboys could easily be 4-1 in the NFC East division and go 4-2 during this stretch in the schedule. That would keep their playoff hopes alive, which would be ideal with the start of the postseason right around the corner.
Luckily, that's not all…
During this time while the Dallas Cowboys are trying to keep their playoff hopes alive, Ezekiel Elliott isn't taking a pounding and will be fully rested upon his return December 17 against the Oakland Raiders. That means he will be at full strength for the final three games of the season and the freshest of any starting running back heading into the playoffs.
Having Ezekiel Elliott at full-strength or as near to it as possible would absolutely be a blessing in disguise for the Dallas Cowboys heading into the playoffs. This is especially true considering the unreal workload the Cowboys were giving him.
After seven games, Elliott has racked up 690 rushing yards on 164 carries, 19 receptions for 210 yards and eight total touchdowns. He was on pace for 418 touches, which seems like an astronomical number.
As unreal as that number may seem, it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility those numbers could've been inflated even more. In 2014 for instance, the Dallas Cowboys gave DeMarco Murray 449 touches. They made the playoffs that season, but Murray was noticeably worn down.
So, as much as we hate to lose Ezekiel Elliott these next six games, it could actually benefit the Dallas Cowboys in the long run. Of course, this all depends on whether or not they can keep themselves in the playoff race during Elliott's absence. I for one am not counting them out just yet.