A long-awaited return to glory for America’s Team may have to wait.

The hype generated by the Cowboys during a magical 2016 season was, in more ways than not, well-warranted. One of the most exciting young teams in recent memory, Dallas appeared to have the makings of a perennial contender.

And perhaps that will still be the case down the road. But after a league announcement that Ezekiel Elliott will be suspended for six games, those plans could very well be pushed back a year.

Elliott receiving a ban on the heels of a lengthy investigation into domestic violence allegations at least tentatively sidelines one of the league’s top playmakers for a month-and-a-half starting Week 1.

With apologies to Dak Prescott, who put together a sensational rookie year of his own in 2016, Elliott wasted no time emerging as the unquestioned centerpiece for the Cowboys. A nine-win year-over-year improvement to finish the season at 13-3 simply doesn’t happen if the front office doesn’t make the unconventional move to select the running back at No. 4 overall.

Elliott returning for the final 10 games of the upcoming season would, of course, provide a major boost for the Cowboys as they set out in search of their first back-to-back playoff appearances since 2006-07. Six games is a long time in the NFL, though.

Not only is there no guarantee that he will hit the ground running after such a lengthy absence from all team activities, but there’s also a real possibility that the Cowboys will have dug themselves far too big of a hole by that point, anyway.

Week Opponent
1 vs. Giants
2 @ Broncos
3 @ Cardinals
4 vs. Rams
5 vs. Packers
7 @49ers

An already difficult six-game stretch that features matchups against the Giants, Broncos, Cardinals, and Packers becomes all the more challenging without the services of Elliott, whose workhorse role last season took pressure off a rookie quarterback and masked the deficiencies of a defense with its fair share of problem areas.

With November meetings with the Chiefs, Falcons, and Chargers, then the Giants, Raiders, and Seahawks in December, a 2-4 start could very well sewer the Cowboys’ season.

More pressure now falls on Prescott and the defense to avoid stumbling to such a low without their star playmaker.

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