Ezekiel Elliott is back from a six-game suspension as the Dallas Cowboys look to remain in the playoff hunt when they host the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. The star running back was disciplined for an alleged domestic violence incident after racking up 783 rushing yards through the first eight contests of the season.
Elliott returns at a time when the Cowboys could be eliminated from the NFC wild-card race - a loss to Seattle and a victory by Atlanta would end the playoff pursuit. Elliott figures to provide a boost as he is well-rested and not experiencing the bumps and bruises most NFL running backs feel in late December. “He’s capable of doing anything we’d ask him to do at the running back position,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett told reporters. “We’ll work through this week and see what he’s able to do in this game plan.” The Seahawks are aiming to bounce back from the 42-7 beating they suffered against the Los Angeles Rams and are in the same predicament as the Cowboys - a loss on Sunday combined with a victory by Atlanta would seal their fate.
TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Cowboys -5. O/U: 47.5
ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (8-6): Seattle has allowed 72 points while losing its last two games, and the horrific showing against the Rams placed the team in a rare must-win situation regarding both its NFC West and wild-card aspirations. “If anybody likes adversity, this football team does, in the sense that we can handle adversity,” quarterback Russell Wilson, who has thrown 30 touchdown passes, told reporters. “We can handle the circumstances that we are in. Reality is, we can’t determine what everybody else does. All we can do is what we can control, and that’s playing great football.” The defense has been ravaged by injuries and the hope is that Pro Bowl middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (hamstring) and outside linebacker K.J. Wright (concussion) will be close to full strength.
ABOUT THE COWBOYS (8-6): Elliott had 26 or more carries in each of his final four games prior to the suspension, and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan indicated he plans another heavy load for the 22-year-old. Elliott’s presence should help second-year quarterback Dak Prescott (2,964 yards, 21 touchdowns), who has thrown 11 interceptions this season after being picked off just four times last year. Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence is tied for third in the NFL with 13.5 sacks, while star linebacker Sean Lee has recorded 28 tackles and one interception over the last two games after returning from a hamstring injury.
1. The Cowboys lead the all-time series 10-6, but the Seahawks won the most-recent meeting 13-12 in 2015 at Arlington, Texas.
2. Dallas LT Tyron Smith (knee) could sit out after being injured in last Sunday’s victory over Oakland.
3. Seattle WR Doug Baldwin (team-best totals of 67 catches and 866 yards) made just one catch for six yards in the loss to the Rams.
PREDICTION: Seahawks 27, Cowboys 24