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Mailbag: Resting Starters? What's Up With The Run?


If there's not a realistic chance the Cowboys can pull out of the four seed, should the team just give their starters a week off and prepare for the playoffs or play to win in order to find a rhythm? I'd hate to see a key player getting hurt in what looks to be a meaningless game. – JAMIE WILLIS / HURLEY, WI

Nick: When I try to figure out the playoff picture, I'd say there's not a realistic chance the Cowboys get the No. 2 seed. But getting to the 3 seed is possible. And with that, you never know if the 7 seed will upset the 2, which would put you away from Lambeau Field in the Divisional Round and at home once again – assuming the Cowboys can win the 4/5 game. All I'm saying is, getting to the 3 seed is possible and with that, I think I'd play my guess.

Rob: Just my opinion, but I would lean toward playing everybody and trying to sharpen things up. We've seen rust impact the past Cowboys teams and others that rested players in the season finale and/or got a bye. The short week adds a new wrinkle to this because players like Zeke and Tyron Smith have been banged up, and so there's a case for rest. But if there's still a chance to improve your seeding (and maybe more importantly, get some rhythm back playing) I think you do that.

With all the starters back on our offensive line, and teams playing their safeties deep, why are we struggling to run the ball? What's changed since the bye week? – LES HOFFMAN / PELL CITY, AL

Nick: Hard to pinpoint just one or two things, but this team seems to struggle getting a hat-on-a-hat and knocking people off the ball. The names might be the same for the most part, but I don't think Zack, Tyron and La'el are the same as they were. And the interior linemen have had their issues blocking as well. Overall, you can't discredit the injuries to Zeke and Pollard but it starts up front. I don' think they've been as dominant lately.

Rob: Well, if we trace things back all the way to the bye week, they've seen more line movement from opposing defenses and that's been a challenge. Sunday they also had some positive runs called back by penalty. Arizona did a great job playing keep-away and building a second-half lead, limiting run chances. So, all of that. But overall it seems to go back to the first point: controlling the line of scrimmage with more consistency.

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