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Cowboys News: Can Cowboys break Falcons offense like they broke Chiefs offense?

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Latest Cowboys headlines: How the Cowboys broke the Chiefs offense; why Dak Prescott is a Top 5 QB; more

NFL: Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Week 10 NFL matchup must-win index - Kennth Arthur, Sports on Earth
Arthur ranks all teams in action this weekend based on how essential a win is going forward at this point in the season. The Falcons and Cowboys come in at No. 1 and No. 2 on his index.

1. Falcons

The reigning NFC champions might lose their chance to defend that title if they lose this game. Falling to 4-5, which could put them as many as three games back of the Saints, would basically be the end of 2017 for the Falcons. They travel to Seattle next Monday night, with games against the Vikings and Panthers plus a pair against New Orleans still looming. This is as close to "must-win" as you can get in Week 10, especially for a team that surely thought it would be doing a lot more winning this season in general.

2. Cowboys

The biggest game of the week features the Cowboys traveling to Atlanta, with a loss sending either team to the edge of desperation while the winning team gains an edge in momentum for the home stretch. The biggest thing on the line for Dallas is getting an in-conference road win in the first of six games without Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys would prove a lot with a win, but they'll feel a ton of pressure if they take an ugly loss and drop further behind the Eagles. Luckily, Zeke is not the best player on the Cowboys.

Week 10 NFL predictions - ESPN Staff
Todd Archer likes the Cowboys for the win today.

Just how important is this game for the Cowboys? According to FPI, if they beat the Falcons they have a 66 percent chance of making the playoffs. If they lose, it goes down to 33 percent. The last time the Cowboys won six of their first nine games in back-to-back seasons was a five-year stretch from 1991 to 1995, so history is not on their side. But their running game gives them an edge. In three of their past four games, the Falcons have given up at least 138 rushing yards as a defense. The Cowboys have run for at least 131 yards in their past five games. Even with Ezekiel Elliott out, the Cowboys believe their running game will travel. Cowboys 31, Falcons 23


VIDEO: How the Cowboys broke the Chiefs offense - Brett Kollman
In this must-see video, Kollmann explains how the Cowboys out-schemed the Chiefs offense by loading the box at all times, alternating pre- and post-snap looks, and having corners that are not afraid to play the run.

You really, truly couldn't call a better game against Kansas City than Rod Marinelli did last Sunday.

Every team the Chiefs play from here on out are going to be looking at this game and trying to emulate what Dallas did that day.


Who's the best of the Cowboys' running backs with Ezekiel Elliott suspended? - Tom Pelissero, NFL.com
That question will likely be answered over the course of the next six games, but Pelissero already has an answer ready.

I asked a few NFL scouts this question in the aftermath of Thursday's ruling, and one veteran executive was blunt: "Nobody." Alfred Morris probably is the best pure runner of the group, Rod Smith runs hard and Darren McFadden has a little juice yet (though not enough to suit up on game days until now). Morris and Smith have each performed well in very limited opportunities this season. Compared to Elliott, though, they're just guys. That puts more pressure on quarterback Dak Prescott, whose 102.4 passer rating since the start of last season ranks fifth among all QBs (min. 500 attempts) and third among QBs in their first 25 career games, behind only Hall of Famers Kurt Warner and Dan Marino, according to NFL Research. Sunday's game against the Falcons will be just the second game Prescott has started without Elliott in the lineup; the other was last season's meaningless finale at Philadelphia.

What we'll be talking about after Week 10: The Cowboys without Ezekiel Elliott - Rob Demovsky, ESPN
Demovsky is not quite as quick to rush to a conclusion as Pelissero.

Now that Elliott's suspension is back on, the Cowboys' backfield will feature Alfred Morris, Rod Smith and Darren McFadden. Elliott has 783 yards on 191 carries with seven touchdowns this season. Morris and Smith have combined for 184 yards on 24 carries for the season. McFadden has yet to be active for a game. Dak Prescott will need help from the running game in order to win at Atlanta. By Monday, it will become clear if the Cowboys can function without their most productive offensive player, and the rest of the league will know if Dallas can stay in the playoff race until Elliott returns.

Don't bet against Cowboys RB Alfred Morris during Ezekiel Elliott's absence - Brandon George, SportsDay
Morris will make is first start for the Cowboys today, and has been working hard to be ready for this opportunity.

Morris was asked what changes for him now that starter Ezekiel Elliott is suspended for six games.

"Sometimes you ask these questions and it's pretty insulting, because you make it seem like what we do on a daily basis is based off of what's happening or it's conditional in a sense," Morris said. "It's kind of insulting because we show up every single day and work hard, bust our butt. It's very insulting, because we're pros. Nothing changes at all, I mean other than all these cameras in my face."

If Morris has proved anything in the NFL, it's this: Don't bet against him.

Someone asked Morris the other day if he regrets signing with the Cowboys, knowing what he knows now.

"I was like, 'No, I was supposed to be here,'" Morris said. "I'm much better because of it. I'm thankful.

"There's no pressure. I've done this before. I am hungry. I've always been hungry."


Tyrone Crawford has found a home -- for now - Todd Archer, ESPN
Initially drafted as a 3-4 DE, Crawford has played all over the line since, but now seems to have found a home at right DE.

The Cowboys have moved Crawford to right defensive end this season, and he is flourishing. He has four sacks, one off his career high. He has a sack in three of his past four games and even though he did not have a sack last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, he had three quarterback pressures.

At 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, Crawford is not the prototypical pass-rusher against left tackle. DeMarcus Ware is more the prototype many see at that side.

“Typically that guy is your really sleek, up-the-field pass-rusher,” coach Jason Garrett said. “That’s the image a lot of people have in their mind. Rod Marinelli does such a good job of trying to find the best places for guys. Having looked at the combinations we have, we felt like give him a shot over there and see how he does, maybe he plays a little differently than other people who have played that spot but he certainly can be effective. He’s a very good run defender and he’s done a very good job of affecting the quarterback by pushing the pocket throughout the year. It’s been a good home for him.”

Ed Werder: Dak Prescott is 'one of the top five quarterbacks playing right now' - SportsDay Radio Transcription
No kidding, Ed.

Ed Werder: I think that's been lost in all the attention that's been paid , and all the headlines that Zeke Elliott's been a part of... Dak is having a remarkable season by any measure. I think he's already one of the top five quarterbacks playing right now. I do. If you look at what he does as a runner, or what he does as a passer, his statistics are very dominant. He continues to protect the football in a way that we really didn't think was possible. It was unimaginable that he would only throw four interceptions last year, and at this point has done exactly the same.

He's obviously a great leader of his football team. He puts in the work. I can't say enough good things about him, and I just think it's unfortunate that his historic start, and that's what it is. If you look at the recent history of the NFL at the quarterback position, his combination of (passing and running) statistics are really unmatched. That's a great compliment to him, and I think it deserves to get more recognition than it has.


Tyron Smith, Geoff Swaim both downgraded, ruled out vs. Falcons due to injuries - SportsDay Staff
Tyron Smith has been ruled out for the Falcons game, as has Geoff Swaim.

Smith was listed as questionable on Friday's injury report after not participating in practice all week, but was downgraded to out by the team on Saturday. He suffered a strained groin last Sunday in the win over Kansas City. Chaz Green is in line to replace Smith.

Cowboys sign DT Daniel Ross from Kansas City Chiefs practice squad - RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys
There’s a new defensive tackle in town, and his name is Daniel Ross.

Once upon a time, the Dallas Cowboys poached defensive lineman David Irving from the practice squad of the Kansas City Chiefs. Lather, rinse, repeat. The Cowboys have reportedly signed defensive tackle Daniel Ross from the same place.


The NFL Is Partying Like It’s 1978 - Chase Stuart, FootballPerspective.com
Stuart takes a team-by-team look at the NFL in 2017 and finds that for the majority of the NFL, the 2017 season feels pretty similar to the 1978 season.

In 1978, Dallas made the playoffs with Pro Bowlers at QB, RB, WR, and TE in Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, Tony Hill, and Billy Joe DuPree; in 2017, Dallas is 5-3 and on the road to the postseason thanks to star QB Dak Prescott, star RB Ezekiel Elliott, star WR Dez Bryant, and star TE Jason Witten.