Overreaction: Cowboys can't make playoffs without ZekeThe Associated Press — By ROB MAADDI - AP Pro Football Writer
No Zeke means no playoffs for the Dallas Cowboys.
Without Ezekiel Elliott, who began serving a six-game suspension for allegations of domestic abuse, the Cowboys (5-4) couldn't do anything on offense in a 27-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Elliott had four 100-yard games and seven touchdowns rushing in eight games, and the Cowboys averaged 28.3 points with him in the lineup. Now, they're finished.
Except the problem wasn't the run game.
Alfred Morris had 53 yards rushing on 11 carries against Atlanta while Dak Prescott scrambled for 42. The issue was protecting Prescott in the pocket. Adrian Clayborn sacked him six times and forced two fumbles.
The player the Cowboys need more than Elliott is four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith.
If Smith returns, Dallas has enough offense to make a run at the playoffs.
Here are more overreactions following Week 10:
OVERREACTION: The Browns (0-9) are making progress. They had a 10-point lead for the first time this season in a 38-24 loss at Detroit.
REALISTIC REACTION: Might be the worst team ever.
OVERREACTION: Richard Sherman's injury will convince the NFL to eliminate Thursday games.
REALISTIC REACTION: Money talks. Television contracts bring in a lot of revenue and a Thursday night game is attractive.
OVERREACTION: The Saints (7-2) are unstoppable now that they have a potent rushing attack — six rushing TDs — to complement Drew Brees.
REALISTIC REACTION: Buffalo's defense also allowed 194 yards on the ground and three TDs against the Jets in their previous game.
OVERREACTION: Jared Goff is the NFL's MVP.
REALISTIC REACTION: Goff will be there at the end, especially if the Rams (7-2) earn the No. 1 seed, but right now the 2016 No. 1 overall pick is behind the guy picked after him: Carson Wentz.
OVERREACTION: The Falcons (5-4) are back.
REALISTIC REACTION: It was a must-win against the Cowboys and they got it. But their schedule is tough. Five of the final seven games are against teams currently 6-3 or 7-2.
OVERREACTION: The 49ers are the best 1-9 in NFL history.
REALISTIC REACTION: If true — how do you even determine it? — they're still 1-9.
OVERREACTION: Adam Thielen is the best undrafted receiver in the NFL.
REALISTIC REACTION: Doug Baldwin wasn't drafted either. He's been real good for a few years.
OVERREACTION: Blake Bortles will cost the Jaguars (6-3) a playoff berth.
REALISTIC REACTION: Jacksonville's defense is dominant enough to overcome Bortles' deficiencies. Plus they have Leonard Fournette.
OVERREACTION: Brock Osweiler isn't the answer for the Broncos (3-6).
REALISTIC REACTION: Osweiler isn't the reason Denver has surrendered 92 points in the last two games. Defense is the problem and special teams were awful against the Patriots.
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