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:
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.
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
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.
Elliott’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.
“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.