The case for Sean Lee as Cowboys midseason MVP

Nov 5, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) runs after making a catch against Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee (50) in the third quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
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Frisco -- Now that the Cowboys are eight games into their schedule, half of the regular season is in the books.
So, who's your Cowboys midseason MVP?

Most people will default to either quarterback Dak Prescott or running back Zeke Elliott with both putting together sensational sophomore seasons.

Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence certainly deserves recognition. But for this team, in particular, you have to at least consider the candidacy of linebacker Sean Lee.

"Right up there, if not MVP, top three," said quarterback Dak Prescott. "His presence on the field as seen by the opposing offense, it's felt by our sideline, it's felt on the defense, and I'm sure you can feel it in the stadium."

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Lee's impact on this team has been underscored by his absence. The Cowboys lost both games he misses with a bad hamstring, but they're 5-and-1 with him in the line-up.

He's like gorilla glue for the Cowboys defense, keeping it together.  In the two games without him, the Cowboys gave up 164 rushing yards per game. With him, the per game rushing average plummets to 80 yards, including just 37 Sunday for league-leader Kareem Hunt.

The Cowboys have given up 35 points a game when they have been Lee-less, just 18 points per game with his dominating presence patrolling the field.

His production is the foundation for an argument for Lee as MVP, but when you factor in his leadership qualities, it's just more evidence his ultimate impact cannot be ignored.

"We all know our MVP on this team is Sean Lee," said fellow linebacker Anthony Hitchens.

Look, it's a quarterback-driven league, so Prescott may have an edge.

But completely dismissing the quarterback of the defense when you cast your midseason MVP vote, would be a mistake.