Cowboys Odds: Ezekiel Elliott could Play Entire 2017 Season

Federal Judge Amos Mazzant has granted a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on the 6-game suspension for Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. This means that Elliott could play the entire 2017/18 season.

Elliott’s 6-game suspension for a domestic violence dispute was set to begin on Monday, after they played the New York Giants.

Last month, we covered how Elliott could potentially bar the NFL from suspending him. And he’s at least delayed the process with help from the NFL Players Association.

ESPN reports that if Elliott’s request failed, he could’ve appealed to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Now he won’t have to do that while the legal process continues.

Elliott’s attorneys are pleased with the decision and happy to have dealt with a third party.

“We are very pleased that Mr. Elliott will finally be given the opportunity to have an impartial decision-maker carefully examine the NFL’s misconduct,” Elliott’s attorneys said. “This is just the beginning of the unveiling of the NFL’s mishandling as it relates to Mr. Elliott’s suspension.”

Why did the NFL Suspend Elliott?

roger-goodell-nfl-playoffsNFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced that Elliott would be suspended for 6 games this year on August 11.

He cited evidence the league obtained showing that the former Ohio State Buckeye abused his ex-girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson. Elliott disputes the claims.

Text messages from Thompson to her girlfriend cast doubt on her character. And Columbus authorities decided there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue charges.

But the NFL cites that their personal conduct policy has a lower burden of proof than criminal convictions. On the advice of a 4-person advisory committee, Goodell chose to punish Elliott based on limited evidence. ESPN, however, reports that lead NFL investigator Kia Roberts was not onboard with discipline due to Thompson’s credibility issues.

Why Judge Mazzant Suspended Elliott’s Suspension

ezekiel-elliott-suspensionMazzant has serious doubts with how the NFL arrived at their decision.

“The question before the Court is merely whether Elliott received a fundamentally fair hearing before the arbitrator. The answer is he did not,” Mazzant wrote in court papers.

“The Court finds, based upon the injunction standard, that Elliott was denied a fundamentally fair hearing by [Harold] Henderson’s refusal to allow Thompson and Goodell to testify at the arbitration hearing.”

Mazzant added that the “NFL’s breach of the [collective bargaining agreement] is only compounded by Henderson’s breach of the CBA. Specifically, Henderson denied access to certain procedural requirements, which were necessary to be able to present all relevant evidence at the hearing.”

The NFL released their own statement that disagrees with Mazzant.

“We strongly believe that the investigation and evidence supported the Commissioner’s decision and that the process was meticulous and fair throughout,” read the statement.

NFL Players Association Strongly Backs Elliott

ezekiel-elliottThe NFLPA has openly criticized how the NFL handled this case.

They cite a lack of “fundamental fairness,” especially how an independent arbitrator wasn’t appointed. The NFLPA has also complained how they couldn’t cross examine Thompson.

They issued the following statement:

“Commissioner discipline will continue to be a distraction from our game for one reason: because NFL owners have refused to collectively bargain a fair and transparent process that exists in other sports,.

“This ‘imposed’ system remains problematic for players and the game, but as the honest and honorable testimony of a few NFL employees recently revealed, it also demonstrates the continued lack of integrity within their own League office.”

A Look at Other High-Profile NFL Suspensions

tom-brady-patriotsMany parallels are being drawn to Elliott’s case and Tom Brady’s Deflategate case. New England Patriots QB Tom Brady was initially successful in fighting off a 4-game suspension from commissioner Roger Goodell.

But he was suspended last year for the first 4 contests after the Southern District of New York 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the suspension.

New Orleans Saints running back Adrian Peterson was suspended over a child abuse case in Texas during his Minnesota Vikings days. Henderson upheld his punishment, but a federal judge later overturned it.

The NFL has tightened its stance on domestic violence after botching the Ray Rice case three years ago. The Baltimore Ravens running back was caught on tape punching his wife unconscious in an elevator.

Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel believes that the Rice case is playing into this matter. Here’s an excerpt from Wetzel:

“Everything these days is a reaction to the league doing a poor job investigating Ray Rice. Then, the NFL failed to follow through and acquire the ugly elevator surveillance tape, only to be horrified and humiliated when the video later emerged. Now, it supposedly presses everything.

“Any investigative and judicial system, however, has to be rooted in transparency and fairness, or else whatever verdict it renders – even seemingly the most justified – is compromised. To cut corners is to undermine not just the righteousness of the decision, but the victim seeking justice.”

Wetzel also states how badly the NFL handled this case:

ezekiel-elliott-suspension“The most glaring issue is NFL investigator Kia Wright Roberts testified at Elliott’s appeal hearing that she would not have recommended suspending Elliott in this case. She cited a lack of corroborating evidence, both via witnesses and other data, to back up Thompson’s story. She was the only person from the NFL to speak to Thompson.

“The NFL is within its rights to reject the opinion of its investigator, but doing so warrants an explanation. Rather than provide one in its original ruling that deemed Elliott’s actions “inappropriate and disturbing,” the league failed to mention Robert’s counter-opinion at all.

“The NFL just acted like it didn’t exist. Or, more likely, operated under the belief the counter-opinion would never get out.”

Cowboys Odds with Elliott Now Playing

The Dallas Cowboys odds have been given a slight bump in value following the announcement that Elliott will play for the foreseeable future.

We’ve shifted their 2017/18 Super Bowl odds from +1400 to +1300 at GTBets. This isn’t a giant bump, but it shows that we believe Elliott is a game-changing talent.

He tallied 1,631 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 322 carries. Elliott added another 363 yards on 32 receptions in his rookie season.

The main reason why Dallas’ odds didn’t shift more is because they have a brutal schedule. But potentially having Elliott the entire year improves their chances of winning the NFC East.

Last season they went 13-3 and earned a first-round bye. However, they lost a close Divisional Round playoff game to the Green Bay Packers.

Cowboys Odds with Ezekiel Elliott 6-game Suspension

The Dallas Cowboys have high hopes entering the 2017 NFL season after going 13-3 last year. But their hopes are diminished with the recent 6-game suspension of running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Earlier reports suggested that Elliott might be looking at a 1-2 game suspension. After all, he was never charged in the domestic violence dispute at the heart of the matter. However, Dallas received the unpleasant news that their star will miss over 30% of the regular season.

Can Dallas survive without their Pro Bowl running back? Will the suspension be reduced? Let’s answer these questions and look at who the Cowboys play in their first six contests.

Dallas Faces Gauntlet to Open the Year

The Cowboys could easily argue that they have the toughest schedule in 2017. They face the Raiders twice, the Falcons in Atlanta, the Packers, the Chiefs, the Broncos in Denver, and a tough NFC East crowd. So it doesn’t help matters that they’re facing six games without Elliott.

Here’s a brief look at what they’ll deal with when Elliott can’t suit up:

derek-carrWeek 1 vs. Raiders

Oakland had a breakthrough year in 2016, going 12-4 and making the playoffs. Derek Carr will be ready to start the season after breaking his fibula to end last year’s campaign. This game could be a toss-up. But we give Dallas a slight edge at home.

Week 2 @ Houston

The Texans won the AFC South by default last season thanks to a weak division. But they have an elite defense that only needs to move the chains on offense to compete. Perhaps Clemson rookie Deshaun Watson is the answer at quarterback. This is another tough call that could go either way.

Week 3 vs. NY Giants

New York finally put things together last season after going 11-5 and earning a Wild Card berth. The Giants beat Dallas twice last year with Elliott on the field. We won’t be surprised if they win again.

von-miller-suspension-1Week 4 @ Denver

The Broncos had a disappointing season (9-7) coming of a Super Bowl run. And their QB issues aren’t solved going into 2017 either. However, they still have Von Miller and a tough defense that can slow down anybody. The Cowboys will have trouble scoring on the road without Zeke.

Week 5 @ Cardinals

It’s hard to know what to expect from Arizona coming off a 7-8-1 campaign that fell well short of their Super Bowl expectations. Our guess is that they come out better in 2017. But the jury’s out on whether they will or won’t defend home against Dallas.

Week 6 vs. St. Louis Rams

The Rams have a strong defense and solid running game. But we’re not sold on Jared Goff at QB until he proves himself. Dallas can definitely win this game at home.

Overall Analysis of Schedule without Elliott

ezekiel-elliott-suspensionWe predict that Dallas will either go 3-3 or 4-2 to start the season without Elliott.

We feel that the Cowboys have an edge at home against Oakland and St. Louis. They’ll likely split or go 1-3 in the four contests against Houston, New York, Denver, and Arizona.

The Cowboys will be pretty happy to come out of this with a 4-2 record. But a 3-3 mark or worse puts their playoff hopes in serious jeopardy. You can see why this is the case by looking at their remaining schedule:

Week 7 vs. Green Bay
Week 8 Bye Week
Week 9 @ San Francisco
Week 10 @ Washington
Week 11 vs. Kansas City
Week 12 @ Atlanta
Week 13 vs. Philadelphia
Week 14 vs. San Diego
Week 15 vs. Washington
Week 16 @ NYGiants
Week 17 @ Oakland

This includes 5 out of 10 games against playoff squads. It’ll especially be tough playing against the Falcons, Raiders, and Giants on the road.

Elliott Files an Appeal

Not surprisingly, Elliott has appealed the disciplinary action taken against him. According to the Washington Post, his appeal will take place on August 29, and be handled by former NFL labor relations executive Harold Henderson.

ezekiel-elliottElliott’s chances of winning the appeal aren’t great. Gabriel Feldman, the director of the sports law program at Tulane, said that it’ll be even tougher if NFL Commission Roger Goodell is the one hearing the appeal.

“The default answer has always been that the player has an uphill battle on appeal,” Feldman stated.

“The first question is: Who’s going to hear the appeal? If it’s the commissioner, it’s an even more uphill battle. Roger Goodell has had a chance to consider the evidence. The issue is whether Elliott and his legal team can present new evidence or mitigating factors.”

The NFL Players Association will do everything it can to help Elliott in the appeal process. But Feldman said that the appeal is likely Elliott’s only chance to do something about the suspension.

ezekiel-elliott-salvation-army-pot“This is the last chance for that. Once the appeal is considered and resolved, that’s when it becomes nearly impossible to overcome the commissioner’s authority to resolve these issues,” Feldman explained.

“If it goes to court, you’re talking about different policies, a different case, a different set of circumstances. But it’s the same broad deference given to an arbitrator’s decision.”

The baseline suspension for a domestic violence case is 6 games. And Goodell determined this length after the league conducted a long investigation.

League efforts focused on a domestic dispute between Elliott and his former girlfriend in Columbus, and another altercation where he pulled down a woman’s shirt during a St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dallas.

“There’s the possibility the suspension could be reduced,” said Feldman. “But there was a lengthy investigation by the NFL. The standard in the personal conduct policy is pretty low. It just requires credible evidence. Based on his first review, Roger Goodell determined there was credible evidence.”

Cowboys 2017 Odds

Dallas certainly has a tough road ahead if they don’t have Ezekiel Elliott for the first portion of the season. But their odds of success still aren’t terrible.

Here’s a look at their betting odds according to our GTBets sportsbook:

  • Odds to win 2018 Super Bowl – Dallas +1500
  • Odds to win NFC Championship – Dallas +675
  • Odds to win NFC East – Dallas +160

As you can see, Dallas is being given a fair shot to compete in their division and conference. These odds are longer than before the Elliott suspension, but this team will still be competitive.

Their schedule is too tough to repeat last season’s 13-3 performance. But it’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility that they go 10-6 or 11-5 and make the playoffs again. Dallas would certainly welcome a reduced suspension for Elliott too.

Cowboys 2017 Odds: Will Ezekiel Elliott be Suspended?

ezekiel-elliott-suspensionRunning back Ezekiel Elliott played a huge part in the Dallas Cowboys’ success last year. But he could very well be suspended for part of the 2017 season.

The organization is hoping that he avoids suspension stemming from a 2015 domestic violence incident with his former girlfriend.

After all, Elliott has played one full NFL season, participated in the Pro Bowl, and completed offseason conditioning. Plus, Columbus prosecutors aren’t even bringing charges against him.

Nevertheless, Commissioner Roger Goodell has shown that he’s more than capable of issuing a late suspension (see Deflate-Gate). And a recent report suggests that Elliott could face suspension.

Let’s discuss this report below along with how a potential Elliott suspension will impact the Cowboys’ 2017 odds.

Evidence Mounting for a Possible Elliott Suspension

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, “there’s a growing sense” that the Dallas running back will at least miss a few games.

ezekiel-elliott“This is the question that everybody has been waiting over a year to have answered, whether or not Ezekiel Elliott will wind up facing discipline,” said Schefter.

“I think there’s a growing sense that he could face some sort of short suspension here in the coming weeks. Once the NFL wraps up its investigation.”

He added, “It’s not over yet. But it is definitely far along into the process. Zeke Elliott still has to respond to the NFL’s recent findings. The NFL has given some report. And at some point in the coming weeks, Zeke Elliott will respond to the NFL’s report.”

Elliott is “Bracing” for Suspension

While nothing is given now, even Elliott must think that there’s some chance he’ll miss time this season.

“I think that Elliott is bracing for a short suspension here in the coming weeks,” said Schefter. “And we’ll see how that impacts the season. Keep in mind that the Dallas Cowboys open with the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos.”

Schefter continued, “There’s a chance he could miss maybe one, both of those games. But again, the NFL has not made any final determinations. It’s still going through its investigation … But again, I think there’s a growing sense that Zeke Elliott is going to face some sort of discipline. And it very well could include a short suspension.”

Elliott Unhappy about Pace of NFL’s Investigation

zeke-elliott-suspensionElliott spoke with the Forth Worth Star-Telegram about the possible suspension.

And he would like to see this matter wrapped up sooner than later.

“I do want closure,” he said. “I do. I would rather them not drag it on as long. I think if there was something to find, which there’s not, they would’ve found it by now. The police did a very thorough investigation.

“I will tell you this. It just seems like they’re dragging their feet right now. Who knows, man? I just want it to end.”

How would Elliott’s Suspension Compare to Josh Brown Last Year

Last year, New York Giants kicker Josh Brown served a 1-game suspension amid documented evidence that he abused his wife. And there was league and public outcry for the weak discipline.

Given that Elliott isn’t even being charged in his case, it’s hard to draw a parallel here. That said, will the NFL suspend him at all for an incident that occurred in college?

Or will they come down hard on Elliott to make up for the botched handling of Brown’s case?

Elliott’s Bar Altercation could Weigh In

ezekiel-elliott-salvation-army-potZeke Elliott hasn’t exactly laid low leading up to a possible suspension. According to Mike Fisher, from 105.3 The Fan, the Pro Bowler was involved in an incident at Dallas’ Clutch Bar.

Speaking on Facebook Life, Fisher said that somebody was punched, police were called, and an ambulance came to the bar. Fisher didn’t say if Elliott threw the punch(es).

Schefter said that police made a statement “regarding the Sunday night altercation that involved Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott.”

The statement fails to mention Elliott, and it doesn’t say if any arrests have been made. But a 30-year-old man was assaulted and taken to a local hospital for non-life threatening injuries. The Dallas Police Department is currently investigating the matter.

Dallas 2017 Odds & Impact of Elliott Suspension

Currently, our GTBets book has Dallas’ odds as follows:

Cowboys Winning Super Bowl: +1000
Cowboys Winning NFC Championship: +500
Cowboys Winning NFC East: +140

Obviously these don’t take into account Elliott’s potential suspension because it hasn’t happened yet. But if Elliott were to be suspended – as reporters believe could happen – it would impact the Cowboys’ chances.

As Schefter reported, Dallas faces the Giants and @Broncos to open the regular season. These are already tough games, let alone when you don’t have your star running back.

The road doesn’t get any easier because Dallas also faces: Green Bay (Oct. 8), @Washington (Oct 29), Kansas City (Nov 5), @Atlanta (Nov 12), @NY Giants (Dec 10), @Oakland (Dec 17), and Seattle (Dec 24).

In all, Dallas faces playoff teams 8 times over the regular season. And this includes an away date with the defending NFC champion Falcons.

Things will already be difficult enough for the Cowboys. So if a suspension comes, they’ll be hoping for a one gamer.

A 1-game suspension would’t devastate Dallas’ odds. But a 2-game suspension could create the realistic chance that the Cowboys lose their first two games. And once this happens, it’s very difficult to make the playoffs.