You’ve heard the old paradox, what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? A version of it is set to take place on Sunday. Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott represents the former and the Green Bay Packers defense is the object he’ll be attempting to move out of the way.
The Cowboys, due to last year’s record of four wins and 12 losses, got to choose fourth in this year’s draft. They grabbed the 6-foot, 225-pound running back from Ohio State. Like Eddie Lacy – but much speedier and without the body fat – he’s a classic power runner. In his three years at Ohio State, Elliott averaged 6.7 yards per rush. He was named an All-American in 2015 and finished eighth in Heisman voting.
After only five games and still at age 21, he has already taken the league by storm. Elliott has rushed for 546 yards, which is more than 109 yards per game – the league’s best by a wide margin.
Elliott is a workhorse. He had 20 or more carries in his first four games, including 30 carries for 140 yards against the Bears. Last Sunday, he went for 134 yards against the Bengals, though he carried only 15 times in that victory – Dallas’ fourth in a row after losing its opener to the Giants.
Elliott is also on a roll, with his average rush for his first five NFL games being (in order): 2.6, 4.0, 4.7, 6.0 and 8.9.
Opposing this force will be the Green Bay run defense, which has allowed an average of just under 43 rushing yards in its first four games – this too leads the league by a wide margin. It’s been a team effort, with much of the credit going to inside linebackers Jake Ryan, Blake Martinez and Joe Thomas, and down linemen Letroy Guion, Mike Daniels, and rookies Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry. The massive Mike Pennel will also be available this Sunday for the Packers after serving a four-game suspension, if they choose to activate him.
After facing mostly substitute running backs in its first four games, the Packers defense will get its first true test of defending against a quality and healthy running attack.
Something’s gotta give.