The arrow was pointing up for the Cowboys, sideways or down for the Falcons.
Then a federal court on Thursday upheld the six-game league suspension for Ezekiel Elliott, a damaging blow to Dallas.
When they meet Sunday in a critical NFC match, the winner will be in decent position for a run toward the playoffs, hardly what either 2016 conference power projected.
The loser, particularly if it is Dallas with NFC East leader Philadelphia already 2½ games in front and Elliott presumably gone for much of the remainder of the schedule, will have used up significant margin for error.
“We know as a team what we’re capable of,” safety Ricardo Allen said of his 4-4 Falcons . “Just go out there and do our job. Just give a little more, take it to another level.
“We have another whole half of the season. Get it rolling. Get the small…