The good news is that the Dallas Cowboys have four of their next five games at home.
The bad news is that running back Ezekiel Elliott will likely be suspended for all of those games, plus one more.
If there ever was a swing stretch of the Cowboys’ season, this is it.
It starts with the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at AT&T Stadium. Kickoff is 3:25 p.m.
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The Chiefs are 6-2, tied with the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers for best record in the AFC. The Chiefs were the hottest team to start the season by going 5-0 before two losses. They got back on track Monday, though, with a 29-19 victory over the Denver Broncos. Andy Reid has the Chiefs positioned for what could be a deep playoff run. There were thoughts before the season that this game vs. the Cowboys could be a potential Super Bowl preview.
On the Hunt
Is another rookie set to follow Elliott as the league’s rushing champion? Chiefs rookie Kareem Hunt is leading the league with 763 rushing yards, although he had his most ineffective game Monday. The Broncos held Hunt to 46 rushing yards on 22 carries. Can the Cowboys construct a similar game plan to slow down the third-round back out of Toledo?
Quarterback Alex Smith has long been labeled a “game manager” in his career, but is he dropping that label this season? Smith ranks second in the league with 2,181 passing yards and has an impressive 16-to-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The Chiefs drafted Smith’s heir apparent this year in Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, but it’s hard to see a reason to move away from Smith anytime soon.
The Chiefs have plenty of big-play threats, starting with Tyreek Hill. Hill is capable of scoring in the return game and passing game, and is among the top-10 receivers in yards. So is tight end Travis Kelce, who is having another solid season. Those two will be big tests for the Cowboys.
Shaky run D
The Cowboys could have their first taste of life without Elliott on Sunday, but it might be a blessing coming against the Chiefs. KC has one of the worst run defenses in the league, giving up an average of 131.1 yards on the ground (28th in the league). Denver rushed for 177 yards on the ground Monday, and KC knows this is among its biggest weaknesses.