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Cowboys News: Can Cowboys maintain momentum if Ezekiel Elliott is suspended?

Latest Cowboys headlines: Cowboys rule the redzone; Sean Lee for MVP; two dominant lines?

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Repeatable! Sustainable! Take a look at Dak Prescott right now, who's seeing the field like a champ - Bob Sturm, DMN

It’s always great to start the news links with Bob Sturm’s post game analysis of the Cowboys offense. Let’s just summarize it as - Bob is very impressed!

Only New England (20) has won more games since the start of 2016 than the Dallas Cowboys. And, despite a few flaws and constant headlines for nonsense, this team can be described as an offensive juggernaut. A machine, of sorts.

So, to see them - once again - against the Kansas City Chiefs roll out several length-of-the-field drives that ended in touchdowns, we see what they continue to do well. They are powerful, they are efficient, and when they need a play, they get one. Third-down efficient. Lots of red-zone trips. And when they get down there, they punch it in for a touchdown.

On third downs, the Cowboys are fourth in the NFL. They move the chains constantly. That keeps drives alive where they move the ball down the field.

They have the third-best red-zone TD percentage. When they get inside your 20, you cannot stop them. Only two teams are better - the Packers and the Eagles.

But, the Cowboys get to the red zone more than those teams. They rank third in red-zone trips. The Rams and the Patriots have been there more often.

To fully appreciate what Sean Lee does for Cowboys, you have to view him this way - Peter King, Interviewed in DMN

Sean Lee for MVP? The defense is night and day different with him in the lineup.

I think you can see how good he is when he's not there. It's a classic case of looking at the MVP. I had Deshaun Watson in my top five for MVP at the midpoint -- not that he's going to stay there because now he's not going to be playing -- but you saw what happened when Deshaun Watson left the lineup Sunday. You saw what happened last night for the Packers without Aaron Rodgers. I'm sure you'd see it without Tom Brady in New England.

It's weird, but there aren't a lot of non-quarterbacks who you can say that about. But you can say it about Sean Lee and that Dallas defense because he's been hurt some and [it's showed] what happens to that defense when their brain center is not there. It reminds me of the Panthers without Luke Kuechly, there's just this yawning gap without him there. It would be like Seattle without Bobby Wagner.

Cowboys hot topic: Surviving without Ezekiel Elliott - Tom Ryle, BTB

Can the Cowboys win without Zeke if he’s suspended again this week? I have concerns because the running game will not have the same level of power or versatility it has with Zeke, but our own Tom Ryle tries to make the case. Let’s hope we don’t have to find out.

Finding a way to win without Zeke is not by any means an easy task. But it is also far from impossible. Having a top-level QB, a quality line, good receivers, capable backup RBs, and some really good play in the other two phases of the game go a long way to solving the problem.

4 reasons why Cowboys will be factor in playoff race even if Ezekiel Elliott serves suspension - David Moore, DMN

Moore has an optimistic view about the Cowboys’ chances going forward, for four reasons. Here’s reason No. 3.

Part of projecting who looks strong the rest of the way comes from what has taken place to this stage.

The Cowboys rank fourth in the league in scoring with an average of 28.2 points. They have outscored opponents by 48 points, a total made even more impressive when you consider they were blown out by 25 in Denver in Week 2.

The Cowboys defense currently ranks in the middle of the pack. But this group has come on of late, allowing an average of 15.3 points during this winning streak with 11 sacks and seven turnovers.

Scout’s Notebook: Defense’s Game Plan, Witten’s Hidden Plays; More - Brian Broaddus, The Mothership

Lots of good tidbits from Broaddus, not just the quote below.

How do you control the leading rusher in the league? Run fits. It might sound really simple, but when you face a team that can run the ball as well as the Chiefs do, it’s no easy task. A great example was the toss sweep to Kareem Hunt with a full complement of blockers out front. DeMarcus Lawrence and Xavier Woods held the backside while on the front side, Anthony Brown gave his body up on Eric Fisher. Anthony Hitchens battled Anthony Sherman and Damien Wilson played off Demarcus Robinson to tackle Hunt for a short gain of three yards when it appeared the play could have gone out the gate.

Who deserves more credit for Cowboys' QB success: Scott Linehan or Dak Prescott? - Kevin Sherrington, DMN

Interesting question, and I tend to agree with his answer.

Dak's size and athleticism earn just praise, but his head is his best attribute. He doesn't make mistakes, which, as Jimmy Johnson will tell you, is the secret of winning. The offense installed by Jason Garrett and Linehan afforded Dak a grace period of sorts, at least until he's asked to carry it on a more consistent basis. Which might happen pretty soon if Zeke Elliott ever runs out of appeals.

The moral of all this is, a good coach can make a good quarterback better, but he can't make a bad quarterback good.

Making Plays With His Feet, Prescott Joins Elite Company In NFL History - Rob Phillips, The Mothership

I’m of the view that Dak doesn’t run enough. He has run either three of four times in every game this year. If he upped it to five, he wouldn’t be risking injury, but he would make it harder on defenses.

Two plays after his deep pass to Williams, Prescott was in the end zone. In shotgun formation on third-and-10 from the Chiefs’ 10-yard line, he sensed pressure to his right, took off, avoided a tackle attempt at his feet, kept his balance and ran for the Cowboys’ second touchdown in an eventual 28-17 victory.

It was Prescott’s 10th career rushing touchdown, the most by any NFL quarterback in the last two seasons. He broke a tie with Don Meredith for the second-most games in team history (five) with at least two passing touchdowns and at least one rushing touchdown, trailing only Roger Staubach (six).

And, some more impressive company: With 39 career passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns, Prescott joins Cam Newton as only the second quarterback in NFL history with at least 35 passing scores and at least 10 rushing scores through his first two seasons.

Prescott’s versatility as a passer and runner has helped the Cowboys score at least 28 points in six straight games for the first time in 10 years.

Two dominant lines? How the Cowboys transformed a winning O-line strategy to ignite the pass rush - David Moore, DMN

The Cowboys line transformed because two players who underachieved last year finally stepped up to reach their potential. It was one of my burning questions of the offseason. Three of the six guys I highlighted are now gone - Cedric Thornton, Stephen Paea, and Damontre Moore. But two of them - DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving - have become the “war daddies” we all hoped for.

Let's just do in the defensive line what we've done in the offensive line.' We [put] our five best offensive linemen; now four best defensive linemen, get them out there on the field and now we'll just kind of make do because all these guys have position flex. So they moved Maliek Collins from the 3-technique to the 1-technique which is more of a run stopper but now suddenly he's effective as a run stopper but also pushes the pocket more as a pass rusher.

Now suddenly in that 3 technique you have David Irving to put in there. You have Tyrone Crawford who's good against the run who also was playing some inside at tackle - now you put him at left defensive end and he's good against the run. And you have DeMarcus Lawrence on the right side as your primary pass rusher, who was outstanding as a defensive run guy setting the edge on the left side a couple years ago.

So you went from mixing and matching and having a big hole in the middle to finally getting the group together. The key there was David Irving coming back after his four-game suspension, which allowed them to do that with the defensive line. Right about the time Irving came back, Sean Lee came back from his hamstring.

Dallas Cowboys' 2018 budget could be tighter because of David Irving - Todd Archer, ESPN

Speaking of Irving, his next contract is one of Archer’s Five Wonders.

With the way he is playing, I wonder if the Cowboys already have to pencil in a first-round tender offer to defensive lineman David Irving as a restricted free agent this offseason. The Cowboys could put the second-round tender on him, but that might not scare off every team in the league from making an offer sheet to Irving. Teams with beaucoup amounts of salary-cap space might be willing to give up a second-rounder for Irving, who is showing he can play end or tackle. A first-round pick is a little different story. Irving has six sacks in four games this season. He admits to wondering what kind of numbers he would have in a full season. So do the Cowboys. But considering the price it will take to keep defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who is set to be an unrestricted free agent, the Cowboys’ budget might be tighter than expected.

Frazier excelling on special teams - Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Kavon Frazier is a monster on special teams. Now if only he had thought before he took out his teammate Rico Gathers in practice. I’m sure he wishes he could have that meaningless play back.

The second-year player out of Central Michigan is leading the team with 10 tackles on special teams, and has made significant plays in each game of this three-game winning streak.

At San Francisco in Week 7, Frazier forced a fumble on a punt return on the opening drive that set up an easy Cowboys touchdown. Against the Washington Redskins in Week 8, Frazier tackled Jamison Crowder for a 1-yard loss late in the fourth quarter when the game was still within one score.

Cowboys TE Rico Gathers still hasn't returned to practice, could remain on IR all season - Brandon George, DMN

It’s not looking good for Rico, who so many of us had really high hopes for this season after his breakout games in pre-season.

Gathers is still recovering from a head injury and concussion he suffered Aug. 15 during a training camp practice because of a helmet-to-helmet hit with safety Kavon Frazier. Gathers was placed on the injured reserve list before the season and is eligible to return now.

Gathers hasn't returned to practice since his injury, and Jones didn't sound optimistic about the tight end's return to the active roster anytime soon, if at all this season.

"Yeah, he's missed a lot of time," Jones said, "and that's all I can say."

Jason Garrett putting together his best season - Joshua Bateman, Fansided

This is just part of the argument Bateman puts together in favor of Garrett.

Before the season even started, the Cowboys knew that the Ezekiel Elliott suspension would be hanging over everyone’s head all season long. First of all, this puts strain on preparation. With how close Elliott has been to missing time, the coaches need some sort of preparation for if the suspension is served. Add on that Elliott himself has missed practices in between some of these appeals, and Garrett could have lost control of that environment.

The Cowboys organization has also been at the forefront of the national anthem saga. Jerry Jones made a statement when he took a knee for unity before the anthem, and brought down even more attention after threatening players who did not respect the flag and anthem.

No team is dealing with more noise coming from the outside than the Cowboys, and they had none of those problems last year.

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