The Cowboys’ Ceiling When Dak Prescott Returns? Super Bowl Contender

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The Dallas Cowboys are 4-2 despite missing Dak Prescott for five games this season. But once QB1 makes returns, the Cowboys will be catapulted into Super Bowl contention.

The Cowboys haven’t officially announced Prescott will start this week against the Detroit Lions. But all signs are pointing to Prescott playing. Here’s what Jerry Jones had to say on 105.3 The Fan:

“He’s determined to (play Sunday). From my perspective, I think he’s gonna get there. We feel like physically (he’s ready to return). He’s going to be given every opportunity this week to go play. He looks ready to go.”

It appears the Cowboys will monitor Prescott’s performance in practice this week and assuming things go as planned, he’ll suit up against Detroit.

Whenever Prescott does make his return, the Cowboys will become contenders to win it all this season. Here’s why:

Dallas’ only weakness has been offense

The Cowboys’ weakest unit this season has been its offense. Here’s how Dallas has performed offensively through six games and how each stat ranks among the 32 NFL teams:

  • Total yards per game: 300 (27th)
  • Passing yards per game: 182 (27th)
  • Rushing yards per game: 118 (16th)
  • Points per game: 18 (23rd)

The reason for the Cowboys offensive mediocrity is Cooper Rush

That’s not to say Rush has performed poorly in relief of Prescott. You can’t expect a backup QB to come in and light up the scoreboard the same way a starter would. But the Cowboys offense is certainly limited with Rush under center.

To prove that point, here’s how the Cowboys offense performed last season when Prescott started 16 games:

  • Total yards per game: 407 (1st)
  • Passing yards per game: 282 (2nd)
  • Rushing yards per game: 124 (9th)
  • Points per game: 31 (1st)

A healthy Prescott gave Dallas the best offense in the NFL.

However, a decline in those numbers could be expected due to some personnel losses in the offseason. Amari Cooper was traded away and Cedrick Wilson signed with a new team in free agency. 

The duo combined for 1,467 yards last season. That’s just under 30% of Dallas’ total receiving yards in 2021.

But even without Cooper and Wilson, it’s easy to project the Cowboys offense performing more efficiently with Prescott compared to what we’ve seen with Rush. Dallas may not perform at the levels we saw a season ago, but Prescott’s return will certainly turn things around offensively.

The Cowboys defense has carried the torch

While the offense has declined in the absence of Prescott, Dallas’ defense has gotten better compared to last season.

The Cowboys are allowing 16 points per game, the third-best mark in the NFL. There is a lot of praise to go around for the unit’s strong play.

Micah Parsons’ is leading the way with six sacks. But not far behind is Dorance Armstrong with five sacks and one blocked punt. DeMarcus Lawrence and Dante Fowler each have three sacks. 

The multitude of defensive linemen that can rush the passer makes it hard for offenses to put all their focus on stopping Parsons.

The Cowboys secondary has also performed well. Pro Football Focus ranked the group as the fifth-best unit in the NFL. 

Trevon Diggs isn’t intercepting passes at the same rate we saw last year. But his abilities in coverage have improved greatly. Diggs is no longer giving up huge plays, which is a worthy tradeoff for the lower interception numbers.

But Diggs hasn’t been Dallas’ best defensive back this year. That honor would go to Malik Hooker. He’s allowed just 16 yards in coverage and PFF ranks him as the third-best safety in the NFL.

If Prescott can return and perform like he did in 2021 and the defense keeps dominating, the Cowboys will certainly be in the mix for a Super Bowl this season.