All eyes will be on the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday to see how they respond after suffering a humiliating loss in Week 3. Not only that, but former star running back Ezekiel Elliott makes his earlier-than-expected return to AT&T Stadium.
The former No. 4 overall pick in 2016, Elliott played seven seasons with the Cowboys and ranks prominently among the franchise's rushing records. Only Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett have more rushing yards in Cowboys history than Elliott and he's third all-time in rushing touchdowns.
Elliott enjoyed great memories with a star on his helmet, but seemingly everyone understood his release was a necessary move. He experienced a sharp decline over the last two seasons and it became clear Tony Pollard was the more useful running back.
Now with the New England Patriots, Elliott has assumed an unfamiliar secondary role behind starter Rhamondre Stevenson.
Coming off his best game in a Patriots uniform, however, it appears Bill Belichick is prepared to utilize Zeke in a workhorse-like role.
Patriots scheming Ezekiel Elliott revenge game will end great for the Cowboys.
This is a pleasantly surprising move by the Patriots, provided it holds true. With all due respect to Elliott, the Cowboys would much rather Elliott receive the bulk of the carries in this matchup relative to the elusive and powerful Stevenson.
Again that's no knock on Elliott, who proved in Week 3 that he can still be an effective back, but Cowboys fans watched his decline up close for 17 games last year. Stats might work in Zeke's favor (Stevenson is averaging a lowly 2.9 yards per carry this season), but Belichick and the Pats are clearly overthinking this decision.
Granted, the Cardinals showed last week that running the football and controlling time of possession is the ideal blueprint to defeat the Cowboys. Elliott's physical style of running is more suited to that game-plan, but Arizona also caught Dallas sleeping. The team never got off the plane and that was evident in the box score.
By all means, though, turn back the clock on Elliott, Bill. The former All-Pro rushed for 80 yards on 16 carries last week in an impressive performance, but it was also his highest rushing output since Week 11 of last season. Further, he eclipsed 70 yards in just five games in 2022 despite logging 15.4 carries per game.
Perhaps Belichick is setting a pregame smokescreen. It's certainly not above the seven-time champion, but Ian Rapoport is usually on the money with his Sunday scoops.
Regardless, if Belichick and the Pats are hell-bent on giving Elliott all he can handle, the Cowboys should absolutely walk away with a victory in hand.