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Ezekiel Elliott out for regular-season finale to stay fresh for playoffs

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Are Cowboys making the right decision resting Zeke? (1:15)

Matt Hasselbeck and Rex Ryan disagree about the Cowboys' decision to sit Ezekiel Elliott in Week 17 against the Giants. (1:15)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For the second time in three years, the Dallas Cowboys held Ezekiel Elliott out of the regular-season finale to keep him fresh for the playoffs.

Elliott is inactive for Sunday's game against the New York Giants, leaving the Cowboys with Rod Smith and Darius Jackson as their main rushers.

Elliott's absence should not hurt his ability to win the second rushing title of his career. He has 1,434 yards on 304 carries in 15 games. Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams is second in the NFL in rushing and will not play Sunday because of a knee injury. Giants running back Saquon Barkley would need to rush for 237 yards against the Cowboys to claim the title. Elliott also leads the Cowboys with 77 catches, a single-season franchise record for running backs, for 567 yards.

Coach Jason Garrett said multiple times during the week that the Cowboys would approach the season finale the same as any other game even though the Cowboys are locked in as the fourth seed in the playoffs. Right guard Zack Martin (knee) is listed as inactive for the game, and defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford (neck) was ruled out on Friday. Both will be available for the playoffs.

In 2016, Elliott was active but held out of action in Week 17 against the Philadelphia Eagles with the Cowboys having already clinched home-field advantage for the playoffs. Elliott finished his rookie season with 1,631 yards to claim the rushing title. Dak Prescott played 16 snaps in that game before he was pulled.

Prescott could see a similar amount of action against the Giants, especially if Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith does not play. Smith is listed as questionable because of a neck injury. Cameron Fleming would replace Smith if he does not start. Prescott has played all but six snaps this season with Cooper Rush taking over late in the Cowboys' 40-7 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars in October.

Prescott said during the week that he wanted to play against the Giants. The Cowboys won six of their past seven games to capture the NFC East title.

"I don't know about this not-playing stuff, but we've got a momentum that we've got to keep going," Prescott said Thursday. "I think Coach has said it before, momentum is huge. It's a big thing in this league. That's what it's about, the team that gets hot, so I think it's important for a lot of guys to get out there and play and keep it going."