How Dak Prescott’s injury impacts NFC Playoff race

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett announced on Wednesday that quarterback Dak Prescott is dealing with an injured right shoulder.

Prescott was limited in practice on Wednesday. As Garrett notes, he’s having a hard time with the most fundamental things on the football field.

“They did an MRI, and everything seemed to be OK, but he banged it up, and it’s hard for him to function right now,” Garrett said Wednesday, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “So I wouldn’t anticipate him throwing much in practice today.”

What this means: Prescott is as vital to his team’s playoff chances as any quarterback in the NFL.

  • The fourth-year signal caller has thrown for 4,334 yards with 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on the season. Dallas is 39-23 in his 62 starts over the quarterback’s first four years in the league.
  • With Prescott limited or unable to go, Dallas would have to rely on Cooper Rush under center against Philadelphia on Sunday.
  • Rush has thrown three regular-season passes in as many NFL seasons. Needless to say, he’s untested.

Week 16: It’s pretty much do or die for Prescott and the Cowboys.

  • With a win on Sunday against the Eagles in Philadelphia, Dallas would clinch the NFC East. That would enable the team to rest Prescott Week 17 against the Redskins.
  • This is no small thing. If Dallas were to take the division, it would likely host a double-digit win team in that of the Vikings, Seahawks or 49ers.
  • A loss on Sunday would force Dallas to rely on New York defeating the Eagles in Week 17. That would force Prescott to take to the field against the Skins. It’s a less-than-ideal scenario.

The NFC Playoff picture: Despite a 7-7 record, Dallas has proven that it can be dangerous come the postseason.

  • We would not count Dallas out against Minnesota, Seattle or San Francisco in the wild card round. Last week’s blowout home win over the Rams proved this to a T.
  • With a healthy Prescott, this team could shake up the foundation of the NFC Playoffs in a big way. All three of the teams Dallas could meet in the wild card round have Super Bowl aspirations.
  • If Prescott is not near 100% or can’t go in Round 1, it would pretty much give that opposing team a bye during Wild Card Weekend.

Bottom line

The hope is that Prescott can go Sunday without any real limitations. That would set Dallas up to take out the Eagles in Philadelphia and earn the NFC East title.

If that’s not the case, Philly could come out on top and inch its way to the division title.

Prescott’s injury has wide-ranging ramifications on the NFC Playoff race and will impact what we see come the postseason. It’s certainly something to keep an eye on.