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Cowboys News: With Dak & Zeke finally reunited, the 'Boys are back!

Latest Cowboys headlines: Dak and Zeke finally reunited; Tyron Smith likely to play; more sacks for Lawrence?

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Dallas Cowboys Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Schefter: Why the Cowboys shouldn't be scoreboard watching - SportsDay Staff
Schefter recently joined 103.3-FM ESPN Dallas and talked about the Cowboys' playoff chances.

Q: What's the biggest roadblock for the Cowboys to get into the playoffs?

Adam Schefter: I can see Atlanta losing its final two games. Detroit, I have a hard time seeing losing its final two games. I don't think they're going to lose one, but that's not a given... I would say this, if I were the Cowboys, I would be completely focused on my business. I would promise you that if they win their two games, which is going to be a hard enough goal to attain, if the Cowboys win their two games, there's a good chance that they'll be in the postseason; a good chance. I don't know how that happens, but I'm telling you, there's funky stuff that goes on in the final week of the season.

Do I trust Detroit for two games? No. Do I love Atlanta's schedule for two games? No. So let's get back to Dallas taking care of its business, winning its two games which are going to be difficult enough for that team to do. They're going to have to go play an angry, prideful Seattle team, and they've got to go play a Philadelphia team that could be playing for home-field advantage. If the Cowboys win those two games, then the Cowboys deserve to be in the playoffs and there's a decent chance they will be.

Ezekiel Elliott Crushed the Hot Tub In Cabo |
It's quite ironic that while the DFW media is still huffing and puffing about Elliott's answers during his first locker room interview, TMZ got on the phones and is actually doing some reporting about Elliott's missing 42 days - at least the hot tub and partying version of those days. Which just goes to show that access to players and coaches doesn't add much to the coverage fans receive.

Zeke's camp has said the Dallas Cowboys star was hardcore training in Cabo during his 6-week suspension. He came back looking leaner.

Our sources say in addition to working out, he would party -- with one witness saying he was spotted multiple days popping bottles of expensive champagne with lady friends at the resort.

Cowboys’ Tyron Smith Plans On Playing Sunday Vs Seattle - Mike Fisher, CBS Dallas / Fort Worth
Smith plans on playing Sunday against the Seahawks despite an LCL sprain to his right knee.

Cowboys standout Tyron Smith is probably the best left tackle in the NFL, and team sources tell me that despite an LCL sprain to his right knee that is a very serous concern, he plans to be exactly that on Sunday against the visiting Seattle Seahawks in a must-win game for playoff-hopeful Dallas.

Cowboys are 18-0 when Dak Prescott has over 7 yards per pass attempt - Kenneth Arthur, Field Gulls
Elliott's return has dominated the headlines, but Arthur points out that it's Elliott's impact on Prescott's play that will likely decide the game.

Removing the Cowboys’ Week 17 loss to the Eagles last year (meaningless game, Dak was pulled after eight attempts), and Dallas is 17-3 when he avoids throwing an interception. When Prescott throws at least one touchdown with no interceptions, the Cowboys are 15-0; Dak is the only QB in the last two years (with a notable number of starts) to be undefeated when doing that. (Tom Brady is 15-1, Russell Wilson is 10-3.)

The Dallas Cowboys are 18-0 in the regular season when Dak goes over 7.0 Y/A. They are 0-1 in the postseason. (Prescott had 7.95 Y/A in the loss.)

The return of Elliott is good for the Cowboys, but mostly because it helps Dak play better. The loss of Smith could be a key to victory for Seattle, but only because it hurts Dak. Ultimately, the Seahawks still need to do the rest of the work. They need to pressure Dak, and facing a lesser left tackle could help them do it (though they lost to Washington without Trent Smith in Week 9, they sacked Kirk Cousins six times and held them to 17 points) but Clark, Michael Bennett, whoever, still needs to finish the job. Pressure Dak, get Dak uncomfortable, force him to make a rare mistake. Hope that Wilson does not make a mistake.

If those two things happen, there’s a good chance that the Seahawks remain alive for the playoffs. If Dak has time to throw and his receivers get open, Seattle will be getting a head start on thinking about the changes needed in 2018.

Seahawks, Cowboys face simple playoff scenario: win or else - The Province
Dak Prescott is aware of all the different scenarios that have to play out for the Cowboys to make the playoffs, but it all starts with a win today.

There’s no point in looking past the first one, especially since it applies to both teams when Seattle visits Sunday in the return of star Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott from a six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations.

The winning team is still in the NFC wild-card race. The loser isn’t.

“None of those scenarios mean anything if we don’t win,” Prescott said. “So we can talk about them all we want, but the most important thing for us to do is win this game and then we’ll worry about it. Cross our fingers and hope on those scenarios, but all we can do is control this game against Seattle.”

Cowboys feel sting of missed takeaway opportunities - Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The Cowboys have had an issue with takeaways this season, notching just 19 so far.

The Cowboys whiffed on four noticeable chances against the Oakland Raiders last Sunday.

Early in the second quarter, cornerback Chidobe Awuzie stripped the ball loose from Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree. Safety Jeff Heath tried to scoop-and-score instead of simply falling on the ball.

Later in the game, cornerback Jourdan Lewis and linebacker Damien Wilson missed potential interceptions. The most glaring error came on the final defensive series.

Cornerback Anthony Brown had a chance to secure the victory with 1 minute, 5 seconds left when Oakland quarterback Derek Carr threw a pass right to him. But Brown dropped it, given new life to a Raiders team that almost pulled out a victory.

“At that moment, it’s about trusting your fundamentals and where your hands are at,” Marinelli said. “These guys have got good hands. No. 30 [Brown] has got good hands, so we’ve got to come up with them and just keep working at it.”

Demarcus Lawrence wants more sacks - Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
There’s still time for DeMarcus Lawrence to get more sacks and perhaps move into fourth on the franchise sack list.

He needs one sack to pass Jim Jeffcoat (1986) and DeMarcus Ware (2007), both with 14.0, for the fourth-most in a single season in team history.

Will Lawrence celebrate his Pro Bowl status by sacking Russell Wilson? Lawrence has been held without a sack the past two games and has not registered one in four of the past five. If he wants to challenge for the league lead, he’ll need to have a strong finish. Going against former Texas A&M standout Germain Ifedi isn’t a bad thing. Ifedi has been beaten for four sacks in his second season.

Stephen Jones: I don't think Dez Bryant has lost anything, 'I think it's just a matter of executing with a different quarterback' - SportsDay Staff
Stephen Jones joined 105.3 FM The Fan to talk all things football, and touched on Dez Bryant's how teams are defending Dez Bryant.

Stephen Jones: I think you still have to be concerned about him. He's still a physical freak. As he showed the other night he can make big plays. I think more times than not you see players with help on Dez. I think it's just what comes with the territory. You've certainly seen that most of his career. I think there's been a getting to know each other period for Dak and Dez. Obviously Tony [Romo] knew Dez well, and knew where to get the ball to him in terms of friendly catches for Dez, but I think this is only going to get better and improve. I don't think Dez has lost anything, and I think it's just a matter of executing with a different quarterback. There's been this time where they get to know each other, but they've made some really great plays along the way. Obviously I know they both want to improve on that.

NFL player bonuses: Jonathan Cooper up for playtime incentives bonus - ESPN Staff
Lots of NFL players will be able to cash in on some big bonuses over the last two games, among them Jonathan Cooper of the Cowboys:

Cooper needs to play 75 percent of the snaps to earn $500,000. He is at 79 percent with two games left, so as long as he’s at half the snaps or so in the final two games, he will earn $500,000. He also earns $31,250 in per-game roster bonuses (he was inactive the first three games).

Mailbag: Who should Cowboys draft? - Bob Sturm, SportsDay
Sturm looks at the Cowboys draft priorities in his latest mailbag.

Q: What do you think is going to be Dallas' No. 1 draft priority this summer?

I don't really believe in the concept of locking in on one spot. I think the draft and the NFL roster are too complex to simply suggest that with the 15th or 25th pick you are going to limit yourself to "X." Instead, I think we can safely argue the top 3-4 priorities and work from there based on what is available. Also, in the first round, you have a chance at elite talent, so you might be even more inclusive for the rare situations that arise.

For me, I am looking at three spots or so up top. The first will be the speed issues on the outside for the Cowboys. They have very little ability to separate right now at the wide receiver position downfield. It is true that Dak Prescott is not Dan Marino down the field, but they should put in effort to make sure he has as many resources as necessary to help as much as they can. Right now, the Cowboys have some quick guys underneath and some strong guys not the edge. But, how about someone with a hybrid skill set that features some size and some juice? How about some actual burner ability outside? I think that would be something I will be looking for.

Additionally, I need a defensive tackle who can win inside more often against the run. This will really help the defense not need to resort to as many stunts and games to free up men. I had high hopes for Maliek Collins inside - which haven't quite materialized - and therefore, I need to continue to look for big quality at the 1-technique or the 3-technique for the defensive line.

Finally, I will always look to upgrade my linebacker spot. This NFL is absolutely growing into a spot where premium play in the hole is vital, and the Cowboys have Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith right now under contract. I need to keep Anthony Hitchens for sure, but I also need to look hard for some more depth here and maybe even someone who can provide injury cover for Lee and the possibility that Jaylon Smith may not ever be the full-time guy we hoped in the 2016 draft. So, there - WR, DT, LB - and of course, if I can find a premium edge rusher or a stud defensive back or even a TE who is highly rated, I am in. And we haven't even mentioned QB.

506 Sports - NFL Maps: Week 16, 2017

RED ... Seattle @ Dallas ... Joe Buck, Troy Aikman

BLUE ... NY Giants @ Arizona ... Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth

Despite slim playoff hopes, Cowboys still flexing their muscle when it comes to NFL viewership - Barry Horn, SportsDay
It's going to be hard to escape the Cowboys game tomorrow afternoon.

Seattle Seahawks at Cowboys at 3:25 p.m. Sunday on Fox kicks off to 87 percent of the nation. New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals goes to the rest of the Fox universe. Only major markets not getting Cowboys game are New York, Phoenix and Hartford, Conn. Viewers also will have to endure the Giants throughout the state of Connecticut, in most of Vermont and part or New Hampshire as well as just about all of Arizona.

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