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NFC picture changes with 6-game suspension of Ezekiel Elliott

NFL: Pro Football Hall of Fame Game-Arizona Cardinals vs Dallas Cowboys Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has suspended Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games, according to multiple sources. Elliott has three days to appeal the suspension — which seems likely — but it seems like signs are pointing towards him not having a very good case right now. Elliott’s been accused of multiple acts of domestic violence against a woman over a six-day period last year.

As a rookie in 2016, Elliott led the NFL in carries and rushing yards and scored 15 times on the ground. Without him, the team will turn to Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris, and Ronnie Hillman, though they could also sign a veteran to compete. (Sidenote for the Seahawks: It makes whatever roster moves Seattle does at the running back position, specifically with Chris Carson and Alex Collins, slightly more interesting come final cuts. Dallas has already had their hand in the Seahawks’ back cookie jar in the past with Robert Turbin, Christine Michael, and Rod Smith.)

The Cowboys first six games are against the Giants, Broncos, Cardinals, Rams, Packers, and 49ers. So yeah, Dallas plays every NFC West team except for Seattle over their first six games. The Seahawks and Cowboys meet in Week 16.

I was not personally expecting Dallas to make it that far this season — Their defense looks like it could be significantly below average, and the offense slightly overrated even with Elliott. Without him, it will absolutely be worse. However, a lot of people did have them as NFC favorites, and some surely had them over the Seahawks. I guess some out there won’t change their minds that much following this news, because Dak Prescott and the offensive line are still intact, but let’s see how defenses (and Dak) respond to this decision. Last season, the Cowboys surprisingly overcame Tony Romo’s injury to go 13-3, and the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl following a four-game suspension of Tom Brady.

I just don’t think it’s reasonable to compare the Patriots to the Cowboys, and Dallas may not even be close to the playoff race anymore by Week 16.