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Cowboys news: Dak Prescott named NFC Player of the Week for a third time

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Dak Prescott becomes first Cowboys QB to win NFC Player of the Week three times in one season - SportsDay Staff, Dallas Morning News

Dak Prescott scorched the Philadelphia Eagles in the regular-season finale, just as he’d done two weeks earlier to the Washington Football Team. In many respects, it was an encore. As such, it should come as no surprise he was once more named NFC Player of the Week.

Dak Prescott ended the 2021 regular season with a bang.

Prescott completed 21 of 27 pass attempts for 295 yards, five touchdowns with no interceptions in the Cowboys’ 51-26 win over Philadelphia on Saturday night.

For his efforts, the NFL announced Prescott was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday.

The performance over the weekend marked Prescott’s first career game with five touchdown passes, the most among all quarterbacks in Week 18. His final one to backup running back Corey Clement also broke the Cowboys’ single-season record for most touchdown passes in a season (37), a mark previously held by Tony Romo.

This is the sixth-career Offensive Player of the Week award for Prescott and third in 2021, making him the first quarterback in Cowboys history to win Offensive Player of the Week three times in one season. Emmitt Smith in 1992 and 1995 is the only other Cowboys player to be named Offensive Player of the Week three times in the same season.

Cowboys dominate TV ratings again, played in 5 of 10 most-watched games of 2021 - Todd Brock, Cowboys Wire

You could probably schedule the Dallas Cowboys game at 3:47 in the morning and still draw huge ratings. It comes with the territory when you’re America’s Team.

The promise of close games tends to bring big ratings, and the NFL had plenty of those this season. According to the league, out of 272 total games:

34 (12.5%) were decided by a game-winning score on the final play (1st all-time)

49 (18%) were decided by a game-winning score in the final minute (tied, 1st all-time)

175 (64%) were within one score (eight points) in the fourth quarter (tied, 4th all-time)

The Cowboys begin their postseason journey on Sunday in the late-afternoon slot in a home game against San Francisco. The eagerly-anticipated rematch of the two stored franchises will be broadcast on CBS by their top booth team, Jim Nantz and former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

Expect America’s Team to bring in monster numbers yet again.

Jerry Jones on Cowboys’ postseason hopes: ‘Unquestionably’ championship or bust - SportsDay Staff, Dallas Morning News

The Dallas Cowboys have as complete of a roster as they’ve had since 2007 heading into the postseason. But the expectations aren’t just to surpass that 2007 squad, it’s to win the whole thing. Anything less is a wasted opportunity in Jerry Jones’ mind.

How do you define success in the playoffs: championship or bust?

Jones: “Oh, unquestionably. There’s no in between. You really go into it with the expectation of being in the playoff. The league is designed to be 50-50. And, so, it is important that everything is setup to be 50-50, it’s that competitive and that fair the way it comes down, the way you can get players, talent acquisition. ... The point is to get here you need to have distinguished yourself, and once you get here, all bets are off. A lot of that has got to do with availability of your players at that time. We’re in good shape. We’re in real good shape right now. We should be excited and be planning on it. You don’t have but one winner here, and that’s the Super Bowl winner.”

Has Greg Zuerlein’s kicking inconsistencies altered the game plan at all, maybe go for two a little more, go for fourth-and-short?

Jones: “Absolutely it does, and we’re well aware and should be aware. That’s part of running the show. It really does, but Zuerlein really brings a lot to the table. His leg strength, his touchbacks, his ability to be a threat at length and distance, all of that is there. He has had an exceptionally tough year for him and extra points, but he’s a sound kicker, an experienced kicker and our guys are all sensitive about how to approach the game.”

Cowboys getting Micah Parsons, Tyron Smith back as they have been cleared to practice - Dave Halprin, Blogging the Boys

The Dallas Cowboys are getting back some key players from the COVID-19/Reserve List headed into their Wild Card Playoff matchup with the San Francisco 49ers, and more could yet be on the way.

Parsons was missed on defense as the Eagles were able to run the ball effectively against the Dallas defense. The San Francisco 49ers are a run-heavy team and the Cowboys run defense will be tested in the Wild Card game so the return of Parsons is huge for Dallas. Parsons is often lauded for his pass-rush ability, but he is a sideline-to-sideline defender in the run game. He can disrupt runs and run down ball-carriers to the outside.

Having Smith back at left tackle brings together the Cowboys starters along the offensive line and protects Dak Prescott’s blind side. The team will need that with a tenacious 49ers defense on the way.

3 ways the Cowboys can contain Deebo Samuel in Wild Card Game vs. 49ers - Alex Ballentine, Bleacher Report

Dallas has a tough match-up on its hands against San Francisco. Deebo Samuel is about as dynamic a weapon as you can imagine, generating more than 1,800 yards this season between his receiving and rushing yards. He has six touchdown runs of 10+ yards – this isn’t the same as CeeDee Lmab lining up as running back from time to time. But, nevertheless, he can be contained.

It’s no secret that San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan loves utilizing motion and shifts. The 49ers lead the league in pre-snap motion percentage, as Seth Walder of ESPN noted, and will often have someone moving when the ball is snapped.

Utilizing so much motion and shifts serves multiple purposes.

For starters, it can give the quarterback crucial information on what coverage the defense is in depending on how they react to the motion. As a result, Dan Quinn’s defense is going to need to have a few wrinkles to disguise coverages even when they get motion.

Another reason, and one that will be important for Dallas, is to create mismatches.

The Cowboys need to have a plan in place to identify where Samuel is at all times. When he moves across the formation, they must have the ability to communicate and ensure he does not get put in one-on-one positions against the likes of Keanu Neal.

The linebacker/safety has allowed a passer rating of 97.1 when targeted this season.

Scouting the 49ers: How Cowboys match up with run game & pass rush in Wild Card meeting - Sean Martin, Inside the Star

The 49ers are a run-first team offensively, but if you’re thinking you may fight fire with fire, be careful – they didn’t allow a 100-yard rusher over the final nine weeks of the regular season.

After studying their dramatic week 18 win, here are a few things the Cowboys must prevent if they want to stop that from happening.

The Rams were not able to run the ball with the lead in the second half, and the 49ers front four regularly got to Matt Stafford. The 49ers defense is playing with injuries in the secondary, starting Emmanuel Moseley and Dontae Johnson at cornerback against Kupp and Beckham Jr. A front seven led by Frank Warner, Nick Bosa, and Arik Armstead made up for this in a big way, with the 49ers secondary coming down to play the run well.

When Stafford was protected, the Rams were able to throw into man coverage with 49ers linebackers struggling to take away intermediate passes. This could be yet another game where the Cowboys run game is minimized by a stout defensive front, but blocking in pass protection with Tyron Smith and La’el Collins on the edge will be crucial.

Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Cedrick Wilson will have their matchups to make plays down the field in this game, but only if Kellen Moore and the Cowboys aren’t in long passing downs early. When San Francisco did bring extra pressure, it was usually Samson Ebukam making plays off the edge. Playing against his former team in the Rams, Ebukam’s speed paired with his ability to shed blocks in the run game made him a tough assignment for the LA offensive line.

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