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Cowboys News: Can Cowboys roll over Oakland en route to playoffs?

Latest Cowboys headlines: Cowboys confident they can take care of business vs. Oakland; why Jerry Jones won his fight with Roger Goodell; more

Oakland Raiders v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

If Cowboys can sneak into playoffs, I believe a Super Bowl run would be a real possibility - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Lots of "ifs" from Machota in a recent chat with fans.

I don't think the Cowboys will win out. They'll likely lose at least one of the last three. But I'll say this, if they were to win the next three and find a way to sneak into the postseason, I believe a Super Bowl run would be a real possibility. Factor in the return of Ezekiel Elliott and the fact that they'd be entering the postseason on a five-game winning streak, I'd like their chances about as much as anyone in the NFC. (I'd also be assuming that their overall health is similar to what it is now.) Of course, all of their playoff games would be on the road. But if they win out, you're talking about a team that would have gone 12-4 on the road over the last two seasons.

Stephen Jones: Cowboys quietly confident they can take care of business vs. Oakland - SportsDay Staff
Stephen Jones joined 105.3 FM to talk about the upcoming game.

On if he feels like the Cowboys are building momentum...

"I think you do get momentum and I like what we're doing as a football team right now. It could have gone the other way easily when we hit that three-game slide but I think this team is mentally tough enough -- Jason's prepared them for times like this -- and I think they've responded well. Of course we've got Dak leading the way. He went through a tough stretch in his career after, you know, obviously having kind of a storybook start to his career. To have that three-game slide, have some challenges and come out of it just speaks so much to what he's all about and I do think we're getting better. I think guys are gaining confidence, you can feel the energy in the practices. And I think there's a quiet confidence there that we can take care of business, go out and beat the Raiders and keep the ball rolling."

Disappointing Dallas, Oakland try to stay in playoff hunt - Josh Dubow, Shreveport Times
Dallas is hoping to keep its slim playoff hopes alive with a win at Oakland.

A season that began with such high expectations in Dallas and Oakland is headed to the finish with the Cowboys and Raiders struggling to stay alive in the playoff race.

“I think the two of us probably expected to have a few more wins at this point in the year,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said.

“I just think that’s just part of the hype around the game. It’s understood. Been talked about a lot. It doesn’t really matter. It’s what you earn on the field.”

Cowboys ready for 'grandma' to yell at them, Jerry Jones Sunday - Todd Archer, ESPN
Oakland is always an intimidating place to play, and the Black Hole will have extra motivation Sunday when the Cowboys -- and Jerry Jones -- arrive.

“Those fans are ... I think it's good for the game of football to go experience that on the road,” tight end Jason Witten said. “There’s nothing like seeing a 70-year-old grandma yelling and screaming at you when you get off the bus. They support them, and it's a tough environment to play.”

Benson Mayowa spent two seasons playing for the Raiders before signing with the Cowboys as a restricted free agent in 2016. He said he has never felt an experience like when the Raiders played their Bay Area neighbors, the San Francisco 49ers, in 2014, a 24-13 Oakland win.

“It was almost like it was the fans versus the other fans,” Mayowa said. “The Black Hole, they go pretty crazy out there. They go crazy.”

Raiders prep for Cowboys in final game without Ezekiel Elliott - Matt Schneidman, San Jose Mercury News
Oakland sees no drop-off in Dallas run game without Elliott.

“The running backs have really stepped up,” Raiders’ defensive play-caller John Pagano said. “I know Ezekiel is something special, watching the film with him on it. Big, physical offensive line that moves people out and they have great skill guys.

“I haven’t seen the dip of how, if they ever said they were struggling, because I haven’t seen it on tape.”

“They’re still blocking the same way,” Raiders’ D-lineman Denico Autry said, “so we just gotta play to our double team and make a play.”

Stephen Jones on Zeke's weight: 'I think he was playing a little heavier than he did last year' - SportsDay Staff
On a recent episode of the Doomsday Podcast, Jones talked about expectations for Ezekiel Elliott, who rejoins the team on Monday.

Stephen Jones: "Obviously, we can't have contact with him and understood that he was gonna get away and really focus on getting himself in better shape. I think he was playing a little heavier than he did last year. I think he was wanting to lose some weight and really recommit himself to the game."

"Our expectation is that he comes back ready to play and hopefully even better than when he left, so if he can do that and we get us a big win against Oakland, then certainly we feel like that we can run the table."

ESPN’s Todd McShay mock draft 1.0 has Cowboys going big along defensive line - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
Won't be much longer before mock draft season begins, might as well get a head start. McShay has the Cowboys picking DT Christian Wilkins out of Clemson, but is he really a fit in Dallas?

Interesting pick. Wilkins is a force as anybody who has watched Clemson recently can tell you. He is disruptive and hard to handle for offensive linemen. Talent-wise there is not much to argue here.

The question is does he really fit for Dallas. For one thing, the Cowboys in recent years don’t really seem to think an interior defensive linemen is the right move in the first round. They have had opportunity and need, but have passed.

They also have Maliek Collins who they really like in the 3-tech spot which looks like Wilkins’ natural position. David Irving has also been playing in the interior, so they could move him outside to end if they wanted to play a Wilkins/Collins combo on the interior.

Tyron Smith, Zack Martin & Travis Frederick top their respective positions in NFC Pro Bowl voting - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
The Cowboys offensive line gets some love from NFL fans in Pro Bowl voting.

The NFL announced the final results of the fan voting for the upcoming 2018 Pro Bowl. The Cowboys are represented by their trio of outstanding offensive linemen, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick. In the voting for the NFC Pro Bowl, Smith is the tackle choice, Martin the guard and Frederick the center. Each player tallied over 200,000 votes.

Jerry Jones won his fight with NFL commish Roger Goodell - Charles Robinson, Yahoo
Funny how you have to go to the free national outlets to get the lowdown on what is really going on in Dallas. Here, Robinson explains that Goodell may have gotten his contract, but he'll have to give up a significant chunk of his power, which is what Jerry Jones wanted all along.

The fact is, Goodell will end up making somewhere between $100 million and $200 million down the stretch run of his career as NFL commissioner, which is expected to conclude in 2024. But he’ll do so under an immense bonus structure that is controlled by the owners on the compensation committee, a group whose chairman, in a significant change, will now be installed by the owners and not the commissioner.

In essence, Goodell will no longer have the power to name the chairman of the committee that holds his salary in its hands. With that tweak, Goodell’s paycheck will be a year-to-year bonus bonanza completely resting in the hands of owners on a committee that he can’t influence. When only 10 percent of your contract is guaranteed and the rest relies on you proving your worth, that’s a massive deal.

That’s exactly what Jones wanted. An infrastructure that puts more of the influence over the commissioner’s paycheck in the hands of the entire ownership group. That’s why Jones was grinning Wednesday. He won the battle.

He went at Goodell and a majority of the other NFL owners with a singular message: To move more control of this league into the hands of the billionaire fraternity and put the commissioner into a space where he will feel pressured to answer to the franchises that make his job possible. It’s a campaign that is getting underway, from the sound of it, with changes coming to the NFL constitution and an open debate about some of the commissioner’s powers. That may very well mean some cuts in the league office, too, with senior-level positions being eliminated by the dozens.

Time will tell how many constitutional amendments are realized and how much power Goodell ultimately loses. But one thing can’t be denied – the commissioner’s paycheck is now anchored to his performance, and his performance and decisions will be more directly dictated by Jones and the owners.

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