The Cowboys are looking like a contender in the NFC

The Cowboys are looking like a contender in the NFC

After finishing third in their division last season, the Dallas Cowboys are primed to sweep the NFC East and clinch their first division title since 2018. 

Dak is back — and so are the Cowboys.

A 3-1 start to the season is promising for the team that was most recently featured on Hard Knocks, a show characterized by bottom-ranked teams projected to rise.

While most Hard Knocks alumni crash and burn, the Cowboys are already on their way ahead of 2020’s 6-10 finish. In just four weeks, the team now has half of last season’s wins under their belt buckle.

The biggest reason for the upwards trend — and for last season’s downwards spiral — is Dak Prescott, the esteemed Cowboys quarterback who has led this team through wins by any means necessary. Prescott can keep up in a shootout, as he proved in Week 1 by passing 403 yards to keep pace with Tom Brady.

Although that game was narrowly lost 31-29, Prescott had a winning performance, which he continued against potential AFC playoff candidate the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2. In Week 3, Prescott dismantled the Philadelphia Eagles with an astounding 41-21, passing for 238 yards and three touchdowns. In Week 4 against the Carolina Panthers, the Cowboys catapulted from a close 14-13 score at halftime to 20 points scored in the third quarter alone.

The Cowboys finished 36-28, but it wasn’t all Prescott. Ezekiel Elliott has emerged a significant beneficiary of this smoothly-run offense, racking up 143 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Panthers. Elliott hadn’t broken 100 rushing yards in a game before Week 4, but he’s been trending upward ever since a disappointing 2020 campaign. When quarterback and running back work in tandem, this team looks as it did in 2016.

Again, that’s not all the Cowboys have going for them. They also have wide receivers like Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, not to mention defensive stalwarts like Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Despite some tomfoolery by Brady in Week 1, rookie linebacker Micah Parsons just might be the best defensive rookie ever.

Joey Bosa was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Keenan Allen was the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year.

Cowboys LB/DE Micah Parsons is the best rookie I’ve ever covered.

— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) October 3, 2021

The Dallas Cowboys look like a playoff contender in the NFC

Leading this incredible Cowboys isn’t just Mike McCarthy: offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has been bolstering his own resume with the wins that befit a potential head coach. After a stellar Week 3 performance, Moore made headlines as someone who could immediately replace at least four NFL head coaches.

Even though Prescott has been phenomenal, even though Elliott goes in the first round of every fantasy draft, the Cowboys were still underestimated heading into 2021. In May, Prescott was ranked the seventh-best quarterback and the 50th best player heading into the season.

Before the 2021 season, PFF analyst Bruce Gradkowski had this to say about the Cowboys:

“Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and Prescott are going on seven years together — two as a player and the rest as a coach. They know what each other likes and how to make this offense roll. In Prescott’s four full NFL seasons, he’s had two top-10 finishes in PFF grade but also two finishes closer to the 20s. With Dallas’ bevy of playmakers on the outside, I would expect this offense to again find its footing once Prescott dusts off the cobwebs.”

But sitting at 3-1 after engineering high-scoring wins, it looks like PFF will have to revise their rankings come season’s end.

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