Ezekiel Elliott is one of the best running backs in the NFL, but he’s going to struggle to defeat the Jaguars defense all by himself.
The Jaguars are a nightmare opponent for the Cowboys. Dallas struggles to move the ball against average defenses. Jacksonville has an exceptional unit. That means Ezekiel Elliott will need to be Superman to earn his team a much-need victory.
Elliott certainly believes he can put on a cape and carry the Cowboys to victory, but we have our doubts. Racking up yards against this defense is just going to be too difficult. Elliott is a great back, but the modern NFL cannot be dominated by an elite rusher.
Today’s NFL requires an offense to be able to throw the ball effectively. Dak Prescott may or may not be a good quarterback, but there’s no debate he lacks talent at the wide receiver position. Jalen Ramsey shuts down Pro Bowl wide receivers on a regular basis. He isn’t going to break a sweat covering the likes of Tavon Austin and Allen Hurns.
The Cowboys only real shot of achieving offensive success is the game is to show the Jaguars looks they haven’t seen before. One way Jason Garrett can do that is by getting Elliott more involved in the passing game. Dallas should give Elliott plenty of snaps in the slot on Sunday. It won’t be enough to just try to screen the Jaguars to death, he has to be given a chance to make plays vertically as well.
Dallas can also try to unleash Prescott on the ground. Making Jacksonville account for an extra body in the box could give them some difficulties. The Cowboys offense can’t make a living with Prescott taking hits in the run game, but it could help keep Jacksonville off-balance.
If Dallas has any hope of winning this game they’re going to need Blake Bortles to have another nightmare. That isn’t impossible, but it’s unlikely that he’ll be horrific two weeks in a row. All Bortles needs to do is be reasonably efficient if he wants to outscore the Cowboys offense.
Look for Elliott to do everything he can to drag his offense to a victory, but the challenge of overcoming the Jaguars defense is going to be too much for the Pro Bowl running back. Expect the Jaguars to win a pretty ugly game against the Cowboys by keeping Elliott in check.