Dallas Cowboys

Seahawks tied to Cowboys’ playoff hopes

It’s been a long time since the Dallas Cowboys fed the ball to running back Ezekiel Elliott.
It’s been a long time since the Dallas Cowboys fed the ball to running back Ezekiel Elliott.

All eyes will be on No. 21, Ezekiel Elliott, as he returns from a six-game suspension.

At the same time, fans will be monitoring scores around the league to see if the Dallas Cowboys’ (8-6) faint playoff hopes are still in play.

Regardless, it’s a big gameday with the Seattle Seahawks (8-6) coming to AT&T Stadium.

Zeke’s return

Elliott is without question the Cowboys’ biggest playmaker. Get this … he has more rushing yards (783) in six fewer games than Dez Bryant has receiving yards (771). And this appears to be a favorable matchup after Los Angeles Rams star Todd Gurley gashed the Seahawks for more than 150 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground last week.

Passing game

Dak Prescott and the passing game eventually hit its stride without Elliott. It took time, but the offense eventually adapted and showed they can be effective without their top threat. But Elliott’s return should open up more passing lanes for Prescott, who threw for fewer than 215 yards in five of the six games without Elliott. Prescott also was intercepted more times (seven) than he had touchdown passes (five) with Elliott sidelined.

General Lee

Linebacker Sean Lee has missed five games with a hamstring injury, which makes his tackle production that much more remarkable. Lee ranks second on the team with 92 tackles, according to the coaching breakdown, and is in line for a third consecutive 100-tackle season. It would mark the fifth time he’s reached that mark in his injury-plagued career. Jaylon Smith, who is in his first pro season, is on track for a 100-tackle season, too, as he leads the team with 96.

Takeaway concerns

The Cowboys’ defense blew plenty of takeaway opportunities against the Oakland Raiders. Anthony Brown dropped an interception that would have ended the game. Jeff Heath whiffed when he tried to scoop-and-score on a fumble instead of simply falling on it. Jourdan Lewis and Damien Wilson had interceptions slip through their hands. The Cowboys can’t do that this week against the Seahawks. Seattle isn’t a turnover-prone team, but quarterback Russell Wilson has matched his career-high with 11 interceptions.

Home-field edge?

The Cowboys won’t have a winning record at home for the fifth time in nine seasons since the $1.2 billion AT&T Stadium opened. But they can get to .500 this year as they have gone 3-4 at home. The Cowboys are just 37-34 in the regular season at home since 2009. It appeared the Cowboys were on the verge of establishing a home-field edge by going 7-1 there a season ago, but then fell to the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs.

Drew Davison: 817-390-7760, @drewdavison

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