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Cowboys News: Who's Your Choice For MVP, Dak Prescott Or Ezekiell Elliott?

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Latest Cowboys headlines: The incredible 2016 draft class; Tony Romo expected to play on Sunday; likely date and time for Cowboys' playoff opener.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Dak Prescott nabs Times’ Sportsperson of the Year - Roy Lang, Shreveport Times
Louisiana's Shreveport Times hands out their award for Prescott out early.

Prescott was a Heisman Trophy candidate as a junior at Mississippi State. Now, at 23 years old, he’s an NFL MVP candidate. In 2010, he earned The Times’ All-City Player of the Year. Now, he has the top honor, the 2016 Sportsperson of the Year.

The south Louisiana native hasn’t cracked despite the unparalleled national attention that accompanies Dallas’ quarterback. Although Prescott’s been all business in front of the media, he’s having the time of his life. The chemistry with fellow rookie Elliott is off the charts.

"I have great playmakers around me that allow me to have fun out there," Prescott said.

A fast track to success hasn’t made Prescott forget about his roots. His twitter bio begins with "Louisiana pride" and he’s been giddy at the sight of surprise visits from former Haughton players and coaches throughout the season.

If the season ended today, this Cowboy would get my vote for MVP - Rick Gosselin, SportsDay
Unlike the Shreveport Times, Gosselin likes Ezekiel Elliot for MVP.

I have a vote in The Associated Press MVP balloting and the two Cowboys are on my radar. But it's a crowded field heading into Week 17. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan also are also in the mix as are Derek Carr and Matthew Stafford. Quarterbacks, one and all.

My ballot isn't due until next Tuesday, but heading into the final weekend, I'd probably stack the candidates Elliott, Rodgers, Carr, Brady, Prescott, Stafford and Ryan. That list is in pencil right now, not ink. I'm still hashing over a few other variables -- plus the results of this weekend's games.

I favor Elliott for the same reason I cast my MVP ballot for DeMarco Murray in 2014. I thought his legs were the difference in a team that went from 4-12 in 2015 to 13-2 this season. The Cowboys became a run-first team with Elliott -- one of only two NFL teams that ran the ball more (478) more than they threw it (454) this season. And Elliott was on the business end of 322 of those handoffs.

Will Cowboys let Ezekiel Elliott go for rookie rushing record? Jerry Jones weighs in - SportsDay
Will they or won't they? Jerry Jones doesn't seem to know.

"We'll probably be pretty reasonable about how we approach that thing. ... We'll see how it goes. He certainly will play and play a lot. You can't ever tell. We might find a good running situation up there and he approaches that record."

The incredible 2016 draft class, plus more thoughts - Jeff Sullivan, Dallas Cowboys
Sully offers up a collection of season-ending thoughts, one of which is about this year's draft class.

The only three NFL teams with more than 50 starts by rookies this season are Cleveland (67), Chicago (62) and Dallas (51). The Browns and Bears are a combined 4-26. That’s mind-boggling. And these have been world-class starts for the Cowboys as well: Zeke and Dak in the mix for NFL MVP, Anthony Brown the highest-rated cornerback on the team the last two months and Maliek Collins leading all rookie defensive tackles with 5.0 sacks. Along with the Bears’ Leonard Floyd, Collins is also one of two rookies with at least five sacks, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.

And Stephen Jones told me last week that the team expects second-round pick Jaylon Smith to be 100 percent for the start of training camp. He was fifth on the Cowboys’ original draft board before his knee injury in Notre Dame’s bowl game last year. Just incredible to think about this draft class and what they could be going forward, never mind just this season.

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Dallas Cowboys expected to play Tony Romo in Sunday's regular-season finale - Todd Archer and Adam Shefter, ESPN
The Cowboys apparently have decided that Tony Romo will see some game action after all on Sunday against the Eagles. Archer and Schefter are reporting that the Cowboys will use Romo in some capacity on Sunday.

Tony Romo is expected to play when the Dallas Cowboys end the regular season Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, sources told ESPN. Romo has not played in a regular-season game since Thanksgiving 2015, when he suffered a broken left collarbone.

Dak Prescott will start for Dallas (13-2) and can set the NFL record for wins by a rookie quarterback. Romo and fellow backup Mark Sanchez are also expected to play.

Cowboys’ plan is to play Tony Romo but OL injuries could affect plan - Charean Williams, The Star-Telegram
Amid all the "will he or won't he" headlines, this is the first article that actually makes sense. Williams argues that with Tyron Smith out for Sunday’s game, and Ron Leary questionable, the status of the O-line may be the final determinant as to whether the Cowboys risk Romo’s health.

The Cowboys want to be cautious with putting Romo — injured in three of the past five games he has played, including the preseason — behind a makeshift offensive line.

The Cowboys will make all three quarterbacks active for the first time this season, with Dak Prescott making his 16th start of the season. Third-stringer Mark Sanchez, inactive the past six games, also is expected to play.

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Think finale is meaningless? Why Cowboys have a lot to gain by playing to win vs. Eagles - David Moore, SportsDay
Moore makes a case for why the Cowboys should play to win - and play their healthy starters in the process.

The game against Detroit is a great example. The outcome didn't impact the Cowboys' playoff position. What if head coach Jason Garrett had pulled his starters to start the second half with the score tied at 21? What if the Lions had gone on to win the game?

How differently would you view this Cowboys team heading into Sunday's game? It wouldn't have the swagger or confidence it does now. It would be a team that had lost two of its previous three games and struggled in victories over Washington and Minnesota.

"We want to go play really good football and go out there and play to our standards,'' Witten said. "It's as simple as that.''

The Cowboys shouldn't take any unnecessary risks Sunday. They don't have to play every healthy starter the majority or the entire game. But they can't be afraid to do so, either.

Cowboys' 'meaningless' game vs. Eagles will still be broadcast to 79 percent of country - Barry Horn, SportsDay
Horn with the media numbers:

The meaningless Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles game at noon on Sunday, features Fox's "B team" with Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch in the booth with Pam Oliver working the sidelines. The game will be broadcast to 79 percent of the country, the largest percentage of Fox's seven games.

NFL not saying yet, but here's the very likely date/time/network for Cowboys' playoff opener - Barry Horn, SportsDay
You're wondering when the Cowboys will play their first playoff game? Horn with the lowdown.

The answer to that is simple. The Cowboys will play in the Marc Chagall of windows: the late Sunday afternoon time slot. You know, the one that should have the most eyeballs in front of TV sets from coast to coast.

The Cowboys are more than likely to play their first playoff game in the late afternoon window on Sunday, Jan. 15 with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman calling the game for Fox. That would be sometime around 3:30 p.m. at AT&T Stadium.

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Rating the health of 2016 NFL playoff contenders - Kevin Seifert, ESPN
Losing your starting quarterback in the preseason usually spells the end for most NFL teams' seasons, but the Cowboys were able to overcome the loss of Tony Romo. Outside of that injury, they have been remarkably healthy, and it's no surprise that the two teams with the best records this seasons, the Patriots and Cowboys, are also two of the healthiest.

The Cowboys will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed with enough time to get almost all of their injured players healthy. That includes cornerback Morris Claiborne, who hasn't played since Week 8 because of a groin/hip injury, and left tackle Tyron Smith, who sprained his knee in Week 15. The most prominent player to remain sidelined is guard La'el Collins, who was lost for the season after three games because of toe surgery. Veteran Ronald Leary has filled in capably, and the Cowboys' offensive line has not missed a beat. And let's not forget the Cowboys have two healthy high-level quarterbacks on their roster, the unexpected consequence of Tony Romo's preseason back injury. Dak Prescott ranks second in the NFL with an 81.9 QBR, but the Cowboys' title hopes wouldn't be dashed if he gets hurt -- a true rarity among NFL teams.

Cowboys already rule seven out for Sunday - Darin Gantt, ProFootballTalk
Todd Archer reported it, PFT headlined it.

Via Todd Archer of ESPN.com, the Cowboys have already ruled seven players out for Sunday’s game against the Eagles.

Defensive linemen Demarcus Lawrence, Cedric Thornton, Tyrone Crawford and Terrell McClain are out, along with linebacker Justin Durant, cornerback Morris Claiborne, and left tackle Tyron Smith.

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Brice Butler finding niche in Dallas Cowboys' offense - JJ Taylor, ESPN
Butler, who will be a free agent after the season, has emerged as a big-play threat for the Cowboys.

Butler caught a 21-yard touchdown on the Cowboys’ first series in their 42-21 win over Detroit on Monday night. In the previous game against Tampa Bay, his 21-yard catch along the sideline in the second quarter moved the ball to the two-yard-line and set up a touchdown that gave the Cowboys a 17-10 lead.

He’s caught 15 passes -- five have gone for at least 19 yards -- for 216 yards and three touchdowns.

"Our offense is really good when we spread the ball around," Butler said. "I’m telling you, when we give it to Zeke [Elliott] and throw it to [Jason Witten] and Dez [Bryant] and Bease [Cole Beasley] and Terrance [Williams], we’re really hard to stop on offense."

Barry Church's return has sparked Dallas Cowboys defense - Todd Archer, ESPN
The Cowboys defense is on a roll since Barry Church came back.

In the last four games, Church has 38 tackles and two pass deflections, but the Cowboys have recorded five of their nine interceptions, five of their 11 fumble recoveries and 14 of their 34 sacks during that span.

"He’s always had a knack for being around the ball and has made a lot of plays on the ball throughout his career," coach Jason Garrett said. "I do think he’s the kind of player that positively impacts his teammates. He’s got great energy. He’s a really good communicator. I think guys respond well to him.

"There’s no question he has a positive impact on our team. Other guys have certainly stepped up and taking the ball away is important. He’s had a knack for it, and hopefully he’s inspired other guys to do that as well."

Scott Linehan could be sought after based on work with Dak Prescott - Todd Archer, ESPN
Archer writes that Linehan might be a prime target for other teams seeking a head coach.

With an offense succeeding with a rookie quarterback and running back, Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan could be one of the more sought-after head-coaching candidates in 2017.

Three teams have vacancies at the moment – the Los Angeles Rams, Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars – and more could come open. With the Cowboys having earned the first-round bye, Linehan will be eligible to interview with teams next week.

Witten Closing In On Another Franchise Milestone - Rob Phillips, Dallas Cowboys
Another milestone game for Witten tomorrow.

Jason Witten has already set two franchise records this season that highlight his durability as a 14-year veteran: he surpassed Ed "Too Tall" Jones’ for most career starts and Lee Roy Jordan for most consecutive starts.

Now, another record is within reach that reinforces Witten’s productivity all these years in the Cowboys’ offense.

The 10-time Pro Bowl tight end needs 27 yards to pass Michael Irvin (11,904) for the most receiving yards in franchise history.

Ravens awarded wide receiver Vince Mayle on waiver claim - Jeff Zrebiec, Baltimore Sun
Cowboys players are in high demand this season. RB Darius Jackson was picked up by Cleveland, DE Zach Mooore was signed by the 49ers, and now Mayle is claimed by the Ravens.