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Cowboys News: Ezekiel Elliott is ready to play now after getting his rest on Sunday

Plus, how healthy is the team going into the playoffs?

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NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Ezekiel Elliott on facing Seahawks: ‘I’m ready to go right now’ - Todd Archer, ESPN
Elliott didn’t play a single snap on Sunday and still finished the regular season as the NFL’s leading rusher for the second time in his three years in the league. But that’s not enough for the running back, who’s already pumped for Saturday night’s playoff game.

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is feeling rested and fresh entering Saturday’s wild-card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks after sitting out of the regular-season finale.

”Normally after a real game I’m not feeling ready to play until about Friday, Saturday, but I’m ready to go right now,” Elliott said after Tuesday’s practice.


“It’s hard to make the playoffs in the NFL, so I mean that’s what makes the moment that much more important,” Elliott said. “But I live for these moments. Love it. Can’t wait to go out there and compete Saturday night, and I think this team is ready.”

Seahawks currently 2.5-point underdogs to Cowboys - Kenneth Arthur, Field Gulls
The countdown to the playoffs is officially under way, as the Cowboys will host the Seahawks on Saturday night in a Wild Card matchup. These two teams played in September, with Seattle getting a win, but a lot has changed for both teams as playoffs begin. Las Vegas currently favors the home team Cowboys.

The Seattle Seahawks opened as 1-point underdogs to the Dallas Cowboys for Saturday’s wild card meeting, but that looked too appetizing for bettors as the Cowboys soon jumped out to 2.5-point favorites shortly after that. SB Nation’s 2019 NFL Playoff Betting Guide has more on the game from a betting standpoint:

There’s the common refrain that “Vegas adds 3 points for the home team” and so therefore “Seattle is actually .5 points better” but I’m not sure that quite checks out from a “Do they win or not?” standpoint.

Seahawks-Cowboys Wild Card Injury Report: Tyron Smith, Zack Martin Fully Expected to Play - Ian Hartitz, The Action Network
The Cowboys bucked the conventional wisdom by playing most of their starters for a full game’s worth Sunday in what turned out to be a thrilling win over the Giants, and despite a couple of scares, they emerged without any new injuries to players. So how healthy do the Cowboys look as they prepare for their playoff game?

Both Smith and Martin have been banged up all season, but they were held out of Week 17 largely as a precaution since the Cowboys basically had nothing to play for. Both Pro Bowl linemen are fully expected to suit up against the Seahawks.

The Cowboys’ defensive line could certainly use the presence of Crawford and/or Irving against the Seahawks’ physical, run-first offense. Irving’s situation in particular is unclear, as the talented defender hasn’t suited up since Week 7 and is dealing with a high-ankle sprain.

Tyrone Crawford preps for NFC wild-card game after enduring ‘scary’ neck injury - Jori Epstein, USA Today
It was just a week ago that Tyrone Crawford was taken to the hospital by ambulance after going down with a potentially dangerous neck injury early on in the game against the Buccaneers, but as the Cowboys prep for their playoff game, Crawford is getting some limited work in practice and talking about his injury.

He remembered Tampa Bay center Ryan Jensen throwing him down during the Bucs’ opening drive. It seemed like a routine line-of-scrimmage battle until Crawford heard a crack and pain spread through his upper back.

Jensen asked if he was OK.

“I was like, ‘OK, he heard it, too,’” Crawford said. “Now I’m laying on the ground and I was scared to try to move.”

Dolphins request interview with Kris Richard - Charean Williams, NBC Sports
One of the most commonly cited reasons for the Cowboys’ success this year is the significant improvement on the defensive side of the ball, where defensive backs coach and passing-game coordinator Kris Richard has had a huge impact. But as Richard and the rest of the team prepares for the playoffs, at least two NFL teams are calling and asking for permission to interview the coach for a head coaching job.

The Dolphins have joined the Jets in contacting the Cowboys, seeking permission to talk to Richard, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

The Dolphins have a long list of interview candidates, including Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak and Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.

Richard, 39, has earned credit this season for the Cowboys ranking seventh in total defense and sixth in points allowed. He joined defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli in Dallas as secondary coach and passing game coordinator in the offseason after being fired as the Seahawks defensive coordinator.

Decoding Linehan, Week 17: How Dak Prescott and an offense filled with understudies pulled off their huge day – Bob Sturm, The Athletic
Sturm suggests the Giants game answered some key questions about the Cowboys that would have been impossible to answer in a normal game.

What if the Dallas passing game was not allowed Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, or Zack Martin and they still had to try to win a game on the road where the defense isn’t getting any stops? What if the only way you could win this game is if Dak Prescott was forced to throw the ball into secondaries expecting him to do so, and he had to figure out a solution? It is not something you would want to do very often, considering the way this team is built and how they have invested and allocated their resources. But on this day in New York against a team that doesn’t like him, could the young QB throw some caution to the wind and see if taking more chances than usual suits him and his receivers?

The answer shocked many and caused people to then suggest the “war game” was invalid because it was against an opponent with nothing to play for in a game that didn’t really matter. But that was the point, right? If there is no danger in the outcome of the game, a team can go in two separate paths. Either protect every asset by not letting them play or allow them to play but put them in uncommon situations to see how they would function.

To me, the Cowboys coaching staff — intentionally or not — used this game to help their passing game develop in a way that could pay huge dividends down the road. That might come next week or it might come next year, but I cannot imagine the possible effects of confidence and self-belief from a performance like this. The film study below might reveal to any observer that even with very little pass protection or running game, the passing attack was extremely impressive. It was not perfect by any stretch, but they looked for opportunities to attack and then did so. Winning the game was a bonus, for sure, but that wasn’t where the value was found. The value was gained by putting players in situations your philosophy doesn’t always allow and then seeing them seize the day.

Will Blake Jarwin be a legit weapon for the Cowboys offense in the playoffs? - DannyPhantom, Blogging the Boys
Perhaps the most exciting thing about the Cowboys’ win over the Giants Sunday was seeing Blake Jarwin do a really good impression of Jimmy Graham and make franchise history while doing it. Jarwin has come on strong in recent weeks, but will it continue into the postseason?

The upward trend is a nice thing to see with Jarwin as it makes us feel that Sunday’s performance wasn’t just one of those “sun shines on a dog’s backside” moments. There could be something to this kid. Jarwin came out of Oklahoma State with some upside as he has the athleticism to be a real threat in the passing game. He is a smooth route runner and does a great job adjusting to the ball. Jarwin is also a very good at going north-south immediately after the catch, allowing him to get the most out of his catches. All these things were on display Sunday against the Giants.

How badly does Cowboys owner Jerry Jones want a long playoff run and ‘super’ ending? - Clarenc Hill, Star Telegram
Jerry Jones knows what it’s like to win a Super Bowl - he has three of them - but it’s been a very long time since he’s gotten one. As the Cowboys enter the playoffs on a hot streak, the high profile owner/general manager is longing for his fourth ring.

“I want it for everything we stand for,” Jones said. “I want it for these players. Obviously, we want it for our fans.”

Jones is spurred by the lessons the team has learned and the hardships they have overcome in 2018 even before the 3-5 start to the season, including the loss of Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick to Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

“I think that what we have put together, I wouldn’t want a re-do,” Jones said. “If we started at training camp, I wouldn’t want a re-do, even if you re-did our (Travis) Frederick situation or something — I use that as an illustration — I wouldn’t want to start there and re-do this. I’ll take the bad with the good and I’ll take right here, right now.”

Dak Prescott makes NFL history against Giants - @BobbyBeltTX
On Sunday, Dak Prescott had himself a phenomenal game with four touchdowns that included a crazy touchdown strike to Cole Beasley, but it turned out to be more than just some great highlights. Prescott did something that no other quarterback in NFL history has ever done.

Three keys to a Dallas Cowboys Wild Card round victory - Tyrone Starr, The Landry Hat
While some fanbases are scouring the web for insight on who their next head coach might be or scrolling through endless mock drafts to see who their team will draft, the Cowboys are focused on winning on a playoff game, and that means there are several keys to beating the Seahawks on Saturday night.

In four of their six losses, Seattle gave up 100+ yards rushing.

A fifth loss came when they allowed 94 yards on the ground.

This again points to the need for Dak to be an active participant in the rushing attack but also clearly emphasizes Elliott.

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