Despite Ezekiel Elliott's six game suspension, Cowboys still in play for NFC East
Don't put an R.I.P. on the 2017 Dallas Cowboys season just yet.
After months of speculation and over-analysis the verdict has come down on Dallas Cowboys star RB Ezekiel Elliott. The running back has been suspended for the first six games of the 2017 season for violating the NFL personal conduct policy. Since the news dropped earlier today there has been in my opinion a ton of overreaction in terms of whether the 2017 Dallas Cowboy season is doomed before it even started. Personally I am of the opinion is that it would be extremely foolish to declare such a thing in the middle of August.
First the reality. The Cowboys play in the NFC East. While it is the division that does get the most national eyeballs, it isn't the most dependable when it comes to wins across the board. Logic would have you believe that after today's news the New York Giants would be the odds on favorite to win the East. But they have proven in recent years that they aren't the team I would put much trust into. Now should you trust the New York Football Giants to otherwise run away with the division then that's on you. I just wouldn't put hard earned money on that. And they are my favorite team to boot. I know what I speak of.
The Washington Redskins are a bit of a wild card here. Their roster is good enough to win around 9-10 games this season and they can definitely make things interesting especially with Kirk Cousins playing for a long term contract, whether it's in DC or else where in 2018 and beyond. The Philadelphia Eagles are still in rebuilding mode although I have seen some in the media make a case that they can win the East. This was even before the Elliott decision went down.
Then there is the appeal. Elliott has three days to appeal this decision. Based on recent history it's definitely a fair chance the NFLPA can make a convincing argument to shrink his six game suspension to possible three or four games instead.
Finally they're early schedule does present some challenges. But make no mistake about it -- it is not overwhelming in the least. Dallas opens the season at home against their rival Giants before a two game road soirée in both Denver and Arizona. Both teams while solid did in fact miss the playoffs in 2016. Then it's the lowly LA Rams before their huge showdown against Green Bay before heading to San Francisco. After that Ezekiel Elliott will be eligible to return (assuming the six games sticks).
If we are talking home-field advantage then yes this definitely hurts Dallas's chances. However the Cowboys can realistically go 3-3 and most likely will be within arms reach to at least win the NFC East. Everything after that is up for debate.