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NFL Week Four Preview: Cowboys Look To Improve To 3-1 Against Chip Kelly’s 49ers

Cowboys will bring physical running game vs 49ers MINH NGUYEN VIA FLICKR.COM


Cowboys Will Have To Play Physical Week Four versus 49ers

With the rushing success seen in week three for the Dallas Cowboys, it would be hard to imagine they wouldn’t continue their physical play by running the ball. The Cowboys will travel to San Francisco to battle the 49ers against a familiar head coach in Chip Kelly.

The Cowboys will likely run the ball more this week for a few reasons. They had success last week against the Chicago Bears, rushing for a team total of 199 yards. They brought a physical mentality Sunday night and it helped them earn their first home win in over a year.

The other reason they might have to rely on an effective and physical game plan is due to question marks revolving around Dez Bryant’s health. The pro bowl wide receiver went down with what appeared to be a serious knee injury on the first possession against the Bears. However, he was able to come back in the game and eventually ended up catching a touchdown pass from Dak Prescott. After a few evaluations and an MRI on Bryant’s right knee, the Cowboys revealed that he suffered a hairline fracture to a bone in his knee. Even if Bryant is able to go this week, he will likely be limited and obviously won’t be 100 percent when he’s out there.

This spells another heavy workload for rookie, Ezekiel Elliott. He received 30 carries last week and the Cowboys will likely emulate that number. The other backs will be involved a little more, but Elliott will easily dominate the carries again.

Guys like Alfred Morris and Lance Dunbar might see a rise in their involvement if the passing game can’t get going with Dez Bryant. Morris and Dunbar received six combined carries last week, that number should go up. Morris is a known physical runner and could see some more use on short yardage situations. Dunbar is the change-of-pace back and often sees playing time on 3rd and long scenarios.

Last week, the 49ers faced off with the Seahawks and they were unable to stop Seahawks running back, Christine Michael. He gained 106 yards off of 20 carries and also was able to find the end zone twice. This has to give the Cowboys confidence in their running game because Seattle’s offensive line is sub-par at best. The Cowboys have what many consider to be the best offensive line in the NFL. After watching film on what Seattle was able to do to San Francisco, they must be game planning to run often.

The ground game will be the focus for Dallas as they get their key guys involved. Jason Witten and Cole Beasley will see an uptake in targets with Bryant not at 100 percent. Dak Prescott has seemed to have developed a strong trust and solid football relationship with Witten and Beasley, so look for that to continue on Sunday.

The 49ers are 1-2 and are coming off of a crushing defeat to a division rival. They are at home and should be well prepared for the visiting Cowboys. Head Coach, Chip Kelly coached in the NFC East for three seasons, so he’s seen the Cowboys a few times recently. 49ers quarterback, Blaine Gabbert has struggled thus far this season so Kelly might be looking to shake things up by inserting Colin Kaepernick in his lineup as the starter. Neither one of these guys has looked great since the start of the 2016 NFL Preseason and three games into the regular season. Nevertheless, the Cowboys defense should be ready after coming off a strong performance against the Bears last week.

The Cowboys and 49ers face off in San Francisco at 4:25 pm ET. on Sunday, October 2nd, 2016