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What Dak Prescott’s injury means for the Cowboys

We go over what Dak Prescott’s season-ending injury could mean for the Dallas Cowboys.

 Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys is carted off the field after sustaining a leg injury against the New York Giants during the third quarter at AT&T Stadium on October 11, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Dak Prescott was on track to have a historic year before going down with a season-ending ankle injury in Week 5 against the New York Giants. The Dallas Cowboys quarterback was on pace to shatter Peyton Manning’s single-season record for passing yards thanks to his elite receiving corps. Now he’ll be replaced by former Cincinnati Bengals signal caller Andy Dalton. This change will drastically affect Dallas’ upside. Let’s go over how losing Prescott could change things.

Less explosive passing attack

Dallas entered Week 5 with three receivers — Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb — on track to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards. While Dalton was 9-of-11 passing for 111 yards after replacing Prescott, the Cowboys will likely be much more conservative with the 32-year old. He lacks the mobility Prescott has to extend plays with his legs. He’ll should be able to produce at a high level, but expecting 400+ passing yards from him consistently is a reach.

More touches for Ezekiel Elliott

Elliott didn’t notch more than 15 carries in Weeks 3 and 4, but rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns on 19 attempts in Week 5. More conservative play calling means more focus on the ground attack. Elliott is an elite option out of the backfield and has been underutilized in recent weeks. More targets and carries will raise his ceiling. He’s yet to crack 5 yards per carry in a game or eclipse 100 rushing yards. Expect a lot more from him in the near future.

A steep climb to playoff contention

The Cowboys opened up 2020 with Prescott playing what was arguably the best football of his career, but only went 1-3 before his injury. Dalton is a significant step down from Prescott, so Dallas could struggle to put up enough points to counteract its terrible defense. The Giants averaged 11.8 points per game through Week 4, but scored 34 points against the Cowboys’ porous defense.

Dallas opened as 2.5-point home underdogs on DraftKings Sportsbook ahead of their Week 6 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, and they’ll continue divisional play the following week with matchups at Washington and Philadelphia. Dalton will have to help his team put up 30+ points a game to keep Dallas sitting atop the NFC East, and I don’t think that’s likely to happen.