This time, it seems, the Dallas Cowboys really will be without Ezekiel Elliott. A court denied the star running back’s request for an injunction Thursday, compelling him to begin serving his six-game suspension when the Cowboys face the host Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Elliott has delayed his suspension related to domestic assault allegations through a series of appeals and court actions, but it appears the Cowboys will be without him for at least the next four games and likely the full six. Elliott has carried the load for Dallas during a three-game winning streak, and his pending absence changes the dynamic of the Cowboys’ offense. The timing is a much-needed break for Atlanta, which has lost four of its last five games and struggles to stop the run. The Falcons still are racking up yardage, but they’ve had a hard time finding the end zone.
TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Falcons -3. O/U: 49.5
ABOUT THE COWBOYS (5-3): Second-year quarterback Dak Prescott quietly is having another solid season with 16 touchdown passes and four interceptions, but he will have to do more for the Cowboys to be successful without Elliott. Alfred Morris likely will get a chance to be the main ball carrier for the league’s No. 2 rushing offense, but Prescott might have to throw it more after attempting just 80 passes over his last three games. The defense has turned in three of its best performances of the season in the last three weeks, forcing seven turnovers over that stretch.
ABOUT THE FALCONS (4-4): Atlanta’s offense has fallen off after leading the league en route to a Super Bowl appearance last season. Matt Ryan has thrown 11 touchdown passes and seven interceptions on the heels of his MVP campaign a year ago, and the duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman has been inconsistent as the Falcons totaled just 53 rushing yards in last week’s 20-17 loss at Carolina. Atlanta’s run defense has been all over the map and was gashed for 201 yards by the Panthers just a week after limiting the New York Jets to 43.
1. Dallas has not allowed 300 yards passing this season and has held three opponents under 200.
2. Ryan has thrown a touchdown pass in 27 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the league, and has passed for at least 200 yards in an NFL-record 63 straight contests.
3. Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence ranks second in the league with 10 1/2 sacks and has recorded at least one in seven games this season.
PREDICTION: Falcons 24, Cowboys 20