Jaguars' task on Sunday pretty clear: Stop Ezekiel Elliott

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars defense faces a markedly different challenge this Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.

One week after playing a dynamic Kansas City Chiefs offense led by Patrick Mahomes and loaded with playmakers, the Jaguars get a Cowboys offense that's powered by running back Ezekiel Elliott and ranks near the bottom of the league in passing.

That simplifies things a bit. No worries about extra motions, blazing outside speed or dealing with one of the NFL's top tight ends. It's going to be an old-school, smash-mouth kind of game.

"The New York [Giants] week got us ready for this week in the sense of saying they're going to try to go through the running back," Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith said. "We know the offense flows through the running back. They're going to try to get him going. We've just got to go out and execute and play."

Elliott -- whom coach Doug Marrone called "probably the best running back in the league" -- leads the NFL in rushing with 480 yards and is averaging 5.2 yards per carry. He also leads the Cowboys in receptions (22), and his 635 yards of total offense accounts for 41 percent of the Cowboys' total yards.

That's after he had his worst rushing performance of the season: 54 yards on 20 carries in the Cowboys' 19-16 overtime loss to Houston last Sunday.

"Great out of the backfield, great hands, great in space," Marrone said. "There's probably not a run that he can't do. He can run people over. He can run by them. I've seen him run over them. He has a great stiff arm.

"Can't say enough good things about the guy."

The Jaguars' run defense ranks 14th (101.2 yards per game) and allowed the Chiefs to rush for 126 yards. However, the Cowboys' pass game is not even close to what the Chiefs put on the field. Quarterback Dak Prescott has had fewer than 200 yards passing in nine of his past 13 games and has failed to throw a touchdown pass in seven games over that span.

Prescott also has five touchdown passes and has been sacked 16 times (tied for third-most in the NFL).

Stopping the run is the No. 1 priority, but the Jaguars aren't overlooking Prescott -- especially because of his mobility. He's one of eight quarterbacks with more than 100 yards rushing this season (he has 121).

"Obviously we know he's a great player [because he] won the [2016 AP Offensive] Rookie of the Year," Smith said. "So we know he's definitely a high-caliber player. We've just to make sure we go out, D-line rush hard, back end cover, let's keep this guy in the pocket."

Prescott has been hurt by a lack of playmakers. The Cowboys don't have a No. 1 receiver and certainly miss tight end Jason Witten, who caught 63 passes last season at age 35. Cole Beasley's 17 receptions are the most among Cowboys receiver, and former Jaguar Allen Hurns has just eight catches for 84 yards and a touchdown in five games.

It's hard to see the Cowboys receivers having much success against cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, so it's going to be a game in which the Jaguars' success in stopping Elliott will determine the outcome.