The 6-4 Dallas Cowboys are leading the NFC East and Dak Prescott is playing out of his mind. But the NFC is a tough playing field, and their postseason hopes aren’t a lock just yet. The Cowboys have a 71% chance of making the playoffs right now, but those odds seem to be getting better. Sure, their offense is one of the best in the league, but they’ve got the Patriots looming on the calendar this weekend. Can the red hot Dak Prescott lead this team to the postseason? Here’s what we think about their QB’s recent performance and the Cowboys’ playoff hopes.
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Dak is The Man Right Now
Dak Prescott is getting much more attention these days, and sports gurus are bringing his name into the MVP conversation. He’s led the Cowboys to the top of the division, and his stats show how well he’s performing. Prescott is second in Total Quarterback Rating, just behind Russell Wilson. He’s leading the league with 3,221 passing yards as well as a career-high 8.8 yards per attempt. And it looks like he’s about to set a new career high for touchdowns too – he’s just two away from his rookie season record of 23. Prescott has four games with at least 375 yards and two TD passes each, and his completion rate is 67.7%.
When Dak throws the ball a lot, the Cowboys win. Simple as that. Against the Lions, he threw 444 yards and three touchdowns. The star QB is still under his rookie contract but he’s proving that he deserves the big bucks right now. This is most definitely his breakout season, yet he doesn’t care about all that MVP talk. According to Prescott, “The only thing I care about is wins. So if that means I’m the most winningest quarterback in the league, sure, I want it. But until it means that, I don’t care. It’s something cool, right? But I want to win games and that’s the most important thing.”
Unlike in seasons past, there’s no question that Dak is leading this Cowboys team this year. Wide receiver Amari Cooper isn’t feeling 100% and star running back Ezekial Elliot is having one of the worst stints of his career – but the thing is, Dallas is still winning games. Even without its famous run game. That means it’s all down to Dak. While Elliott is confident the rushing yards will return for the Cowboys, for now, it looks like the road to the playoffs is through Prescott’s arm. Like Elliott said, “When someone has the hot hand, keep giving them the ball.”
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Playoff Hopes for the Cowboys
The easiest way for the Cowboys to make the playoffs is to win their division, and that’s a real possibility. If the season ended today, they’d have a 4-seed and be set to play the Seattle Seahawks.
The Cowboys will face a true test this weekend against the 9-1 New England Patriots, and it’ll be a battle between two of the best QBs in the league right now. It’s entirely possible that Dallas could win on Sunday, but even if they don’t, they’ve still got three home games left that they can definitely win – against the Bills, the Rams, and the Redskins. After this weekend, they’ve also got two more road games left against the Eagles and the Bears. If they don’t make any other mistakes, they can actually afford to lose one of those games and still win the NFC East (but that’s mainly because it’s not really the strongest division).
But for now, the focus is on the Patriots. The Cowboys need a high-quality win to put them over the edge, and this is their chance. Sunday will be their biggest game of the year so far, maybe not in terms of importance, but it would give the Cowboys the confidence that they can beat any team going forward. The bad news? According to ESPN, the Patriots have a 70% chance of winning. The good news? Despite several players leaving last weekend’s game with injuries, Jerry Jones says that Amari Cooper, DeMarcus Lawrence, and La’el Collins should all be ready to go this Sunday. And that means they’ll have a fighting chance.