This Sunday, the Cowboys have yet another key conference game against the Atlanta Falcons. But before they go to Georgia to take on the reigning NFC champions, running back Ezekiel Elliott will likely learn his status for the remainder of the season.
The 2nd Circuit Court will hear the case on Thursday, and most expect a decision by the end of the week. With the talent Elliott has and the workload he bears each week, his absence or presence is obviously vital to the Dallas Cowboys.
But, this week, there is a chance Dallas can get away with not having Elliott, even if Atlanta is thought of as one of the better NFC teams nationally.
Of course we all know how strong the Cowboys rushing attack is. Their offensive line is playing their best football of the season, with play calling adjustments allowing their linemen to play to their strengths.
Scott Linehan has also allowed Dak Prescott to be creative in the running game, breaking out a speed option play on third down against Kansas City last week. Elliott is clearly important to the Cowboys run game, as he is much more likely to make up for poor blocking than Alfred Morris or Darren McFadden are. But, even these replacement backs should be able to have success against the Falcons.
Simply put, the Falcons run defense has been bad this season. Atlanta is 29th in adjusted DVOA against the run, and allows 114.5 yards per game on the ground. Their front seven has been built to rush the passer and protect leads given by their explosive offense. But as their offense has faltered, their defense has been put in some tough situations.
Now sitting at .500, the Falcons are nowhere near as impressive as they were expected to be. And with their biggest weakness being the Cowboys' biggest strength, it's quite possible that Dallas controls this game from the opening kickoff.
It is also possible the Cowboys will be without Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott, and Terrance Williams. This is far from ideal and will handcuff the offense to a certain extent. But by running their offense through Cole Beasley, Ryan Switzer, and Dak's favorite target Brice Butler, the Cowboys could still muster up enough through the air to complement their ground game.
The Atlanta Falcons run defense has no business stopping the Cowboys offense, and I think this should hold true with or without Ezekiel Elliott.