Dak Prescott is the hottest quarterback in football, but even that undersells how good he’s been lately.
The QB has thrown 20 touchdowns in the past six games, not just the most in any such span of his career but tied with Don Meredith for the most in Dallas Cowboys history over six games.
No other quarterback has thrown more than 12 touchdowns in this latest span of six game weeks. Prescott has paired all of that scoring with elite ball security; his 0.9% interception rate (two picks in total) is the third lowest in the league over those weeks.
He has produced first downs on 43.0% of his passes (second behind Brock Purdy of the San Francisco 49ers). According to BetMGM, Prescott and Purdy are now co-favorites atop the NFL MVP race at +300 apiece.
It’s been as close to a perfect stretch of QB play as we’ve seen in a long time. And it’s paid dividends for the Cowboys, who have gone 5-1 to move to 9-3 and a shoo-in for the NFC playoffs.
What has Prescott done well? The simple answer: Everything.
But here’s a slightly longer answer.
The Cowboys are taking downfield shots – and Dak is hitting them.
In games since Oct. 29, Prescott has averaged 7.9 yards at the catch per completion. That’s a huge number. Only magnificent Houston Texans rookie C.J. Stroud (at 8.4 yards at the catch) has averaged more.
And after Prescott, nobody has averaged more than 7.1. When Purdy hits deep and intermediate shots downfield, he gets huge chunks of yardage after the catch from his receivers. 49ers receivers have averaged a preposterous 7.8 yards after the catch in this span. Prescott’s receivers have averaged 4.3 yards after the catch, one of the lowest figures in the NFL.
(Two QBs, Bryce Young and Joshua Dobbs, have gotten less YAC per reception. Both are at an even 4-yard average.)
The translation: Prescott is throwing at tight windows, and he’s hitting them. According to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, he now leads the league in completion percentage over expectation, connecting on 5.2% more passes than he should, based on the coverage and target spot.
The Cowboys don’t do much for Prescott after the catch because they’ve got defenders very close to them when they make the catch. Prescott has enjoyed just a 77.2% open-target rate during these six games, a point lower than the league average.
Prescott and CeeDee Lamb have become an unstoppable duo.
Prescott has targeted Lamb 79 times in this run, more than any other QB has looked for a receiver. (The only duo close is the Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Herbert-Keenan Allen combination at 74 targets.)
Lamb’s 56 catches have covered 707 yards, making him the league’s leading receiver over these six games by 106 yards over Allen in second place. Lamb’s six touchdowns in the span also lead the league.
The star QB and receiver have a sixth sense for each other. Lamb runs a diverse group of routes, with a mix of short, intermediate, and long paths to his receptions. He breaks in, he breaks out, he runs corners, he runs posts, and he makes catches on all of the above. Lamb’s route tree from an 11-catch, 191-yard game against the Eagles in Week 9 is a good example.
Lamb has caught five passes of 25-plus yards in the past six games – a lot, but “only” tied for eighth in the NFL. He’s both a home run-hitter and a savvy target who finds soft spots in the middle of the defense and sits down. Lamb, like Cowboys’ receivers in general, does his most productive work before the catch, not after it.
Sixty-two NFL receivers have averaged more yards after the catch per reception than Lamb’s 4.2 during his heater. In fact, the only Cowboy target for whom that isn’t the case is tight end Jake Ferguson, who in these six games has averaged 6.3 yards at the catch and 6.0 after.
The Cowboys have given Prescott enough time to do his work.
Prescott has often benefited from elite offensive line play during his career. The Cowboys no longer have the dominant front that they did for years when future Hall-of-Famers Tyron Smith and Zack Martin were in their primes.
But with those two veterans still around and younger blood surrounding them, the Cowboys have at least been decent at allowing Prescott time to operate.
The QB’s average time to release of 2.66 seconds during these six weeks is almost exactly on line with the league average. It’s certainly been enough time for Prescott’s targets to get downfield, as Prescott’s 9.3 average air yards are seventh in the NFL in the span.
He doesn’t have all day, but he’s not rushed.
Nobody stays this hot, but nothing about Prescott’s run has been a fluke.
His pickable pass percentage (1.37%) has been the fourth-best mark in the league over these games, to go with his very low actual interception total (two). His catchable ball percentage (79%) is four points better than the league average. And, believe it or not, Prescott’s receivers have let him down somewhat.
During this historic run of six games, Dallas receivers have dropped 5.0% of the balls Prescott has put on them, the fourth-most frequent drop rate any regular starting QB has faced.
Maintaining this production level for a long time is impossible, but Prescott won’t fall off a cliff either.
Last year, Prescott’s interception percentage higher more than doubled from 1.7% in 2021 to 3.8% in 2022. He had seven straight games with an interception heading into the playoffs and the third-highest (or worst) pickable pass percentage among those with at least 200 attempts.
The Cowboys then lost their divisional playoff game against the 49ers because Prescott played one of the worst games of his career and gave them no chance.
This year, it looks like there’s a good chance he won’t be the problem.