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Cowboys News: Cowboys hope to rev up the run game on offense, stop it on defense

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With Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee in the lineup, the Cowboys hope to have success running the ball and stopping the run.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Scout’s Eye: Evaluating Dez’s Opposition; Hoping Sean Lee Can Fix The Run Defense -Bryan Broaddus- Dallas Cowboys
Here are my two primary matchups that I think will go a long way in deciding Sunday’s game against San Francisco.

This is where Sean Lee is going to have to shine. He will need to be that steadying force that this defense has missed the last two weeks while allowing opponents to rush for an average of 164 yards per game. As a unit, they’ve not been good enough, executing their assignments and finishing plays.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not naïve enough to say that Lee can cure all the ills that are currently with this defense, but his return does give me a little hope to slow down the run. Do that and I’ll take my chances against Beathard -- who is making his first NFL start.

How will the Cowboys settle these two roster questions this week? -VAfan- Blogging The Boys
The Cowboys only have 52 players on their roster, and one of them will force the team to pay a conditional draft pick if he’s a game-day active again this year.

The Cowboys have three defensive linemen on their current practice squad — Richard Ash, Lewis Neal, and Jarron Jones. The latter two are rookies. Ash was a late-season addition to the Cowboys line last year. He only played in the end-of-season Philadelphia game to relieve linemen who were resting for the playoffs. Neal seemed to show the most promise in preseason and was thought by many to be a candidate for the Cowboys’ season-opening roster.

Cowboys defense up to 213 snaps without a takeaway- Todd Archer- ESPN
The Cowboys entered the season with the admittedly lofty goal of 40 takeaways but after going 13 quarters without they're back to square one.

“The biggest thing we want to do is just keep focusing on what we need to do to get those takeaways and how we can coach it better, how we can execute it better,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We focus on that each and every day, and obviously takeaways are a big part of being a successful defense. We’ve done a good job of that in the past, and it really helps our football team. Obviously, by nature you're eliminating an opportunity for one of their eight, 10, 12 drives in the game. You’re taking one of them away, and you’re giving your offense hopefully a favorable opportunity. We place a great premium on that, and we’ll continue try to do better at it.”

Why game at 49ers is absolutely a must-win for the Dallas Cowboys -Kevin Sherrington- SportsDay
Kevin Sherrington, sports columnist for SportsDayDFW.com and The Dallas Morning News, calls Cowboys-49ers tilt a must-win for Dallas.

Sherrington: He obviously helps, but, as I wrote last week, the Cowboys have to get their OL problems worked out. That group has to be dominant for the Cowboys to win, because they don't have enough pieces on defense to make a difference.

Teammates upbeat about Zeke's return -Drew Davison- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The Dallas Cowboys face the winless San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.Having Ezekiel Elliott in the lineup keeps the locker room upbeat for the matchup.

Added right guard Zack Martin: “It’s great to have him. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but as long as he’s here, we’re happy about that. He’s a huge asset to our team.”

Mailbag: Biggest Draft Needs? Favorable Matchups Against SF? -David Helman & Bryan Broaddus- Dallas Cowboys
Broaddus and Helman take an early look at draft needs and if the Cowboys defense may feast on rookie 49ers quarterback, C.J. Beathard.

Bryan: First off, the 49ers could beat you with that rookie quarterback. This defense has had its struggles creating turnovers, so to say because it’s the 49ers they’re going to all the sudden happen is a wrong approach, as well. When you’re a poor tackling team, you don’t create turnovers. That’s where this club is right now. Tackle better and you’ll see more turnovers, no matter who you play.

Cowboys @ 49ers: The San Francisco defense faces a red-hot Cowboys offense - Dave Halprin-Blogging The Boys
Can the 49ers defense slow down the cooking Cowboys offense?

The Cowboys will want to continue to establish their running game, something that has improved recently. That is their identity and is paramount to their winning formula. But the 49ers are pretty stingy against the run on a per attempt basis. Instead, the Cowboys may need to go to the air early to open up some room. If Rueben Foster doesn’t play, or is not 100%, the Cowboys may want to attack the middle of the field with running backs and tight ends.

Dallas Cowboys hope to keep run success going against 49ers- Todd Archer-ESPN
The Cowboys think they turned a corner with their running attack before the bye week, and aim to keep Ezekiel Elliott chugging against the 49ers.

"I think we did," Elliott said. "I think we were definitely in a groove. That's the closest we looked like to last year. I think it's good that we finally kind of hit that stride."

Sources: Ezekiel Elliott's team, NFL have discussed the possibility of a settlement-David Moore- SportsDay
Ezekiel Elliott wants to fight for his name.The NFL wants to ensure the commissioner's disciplinary powers remain strong.

It can be argued both sides have inflicted enough harm on the other at this stage to be amenable to a settlement. Elliott can claim a reduced suspension is an admission that the NFL overreached, not an admission of guilt on his part. The NFL can acknowledge it made procedural mistakes in the investigation and process and avoid a potential negative ruling that would undermine future discipline.

With all due respect to David Moore, Zeke’s reps are hearing nothing of the sort:

Ezekiel Elliott case is a legal morass for one reason: Roger Goodell -Sally Jenkins- The Washington Post
NFL commissioner could have given Cowboys running back any suspension he wanted, but he owed him a fair process.

“This has been a persistent and consistent theme in the NFL’s scorched-earth tactics against its players” in disciplinary hearings, sports attorney Daniel Wallach said. “It continually trips over itself when it doesn’t need to. It is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory with ham-handed litigation tactics.”

Dak Prescott says no time to panic -Drew Davison- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Dak Prescott believes that everything the Cowboys' want to achieve is most certainly still attainable despite 2-3 start.

"I'm not comparing my play to last year," Prescott said. "It's a completely different me. It's a completely different team. Me individually and where this team is headed, we're going in the right direction. We're definitely getting better. When we're balanced and we're all doing our job, it's a lot [better]."

Roger Goodell has presided over unprecedented drop in NFL TV ratings -One.Cool.Customer- Blogging The Boys
Ratings dropped by 8% last year and are down another 7.5% this year.

If I were an NFL owner, I'd have some serious questions for the commissioner about why the heck ratings are dropping for the second straight year, and perhaps wonder if Marc Cuban was right after all: this is entirely a home-made problem.

Elliott, Cowboys Look To Maintain Run Game Rhythm vs. Underrated 49ers-Rob Phillips- Dallas Cowboys
The last time Ezekiel Elliott carried the football in game action – the fourth quarter Oct.8 against the Packers – he gained 85 of his 116 total rushing yards in the Cowboys’ last-second loss.

Elliott and the Cowboys will try to maintain that momentum Sunday against a 49ers defense that has played the run better than the statistics indicate.

San Francisco ranks 18th in run defense, allowing 112.8 yards per game. But they’re allowing just 3.4 yards per carry, tied for the third-lowest average in the NFL. And they have forced 19 minus-runs by opponents, tied for the third-most in the league.

The Redskins averaged 2.8 yards per carry in a 26-24 over San Francisco last Sunday.