With only three games remaining, the end of the season is near and the Dallas Cowboys currently sit at 10-4. If you read that following the week one debacle, it would be a surprise to the highest degree. A welcomed one, at that. Regardless of how they got here by defying preseason expectations, the end of the season is the exact time when things need to come together if a team has hopes of making a late season push for momentum. In complete contrast to that, there have been questions about this team’s legitimacy down the stretch after shaky bouts against the AFC South, the NFL’s weakest division. That question boils down to: are the 2022 Dallas Cowboys contenders or pretenders?
Regardless of efficiency statistics, Dak Prescott isn’t playing his best football. He has yet to surpass 300-yards in a single game and has just two less interceptions than he does passing touchdowns the past four weeks. If this team is to prove themselves to the greater public after a severe letdown last year, it starts with him.
Dak Prescott now owns the highest interception percentage in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/5vX18hpmKE— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) December 18, 2022
The defense has allowed 63 points across the last two games to the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars. The Texans hadn’t eclipse 20 points since October before their loss to the Cowboys, and the Jaguars scored their season high. Neither of those two outings are ideal for a team that relies on their defense.
There were some ridiculous takes after the loss against the Jaguars, ranging from placing all the blame on Prescott, to shaming the defense (even though they forced three turnovers). There is blame to be placed everywhere. Legitimately everywhere. If you are feeling a painful form of nostalgia from last year’s stretch and lone playoff loss, it’s hard to argue with.
All things considered, it is a bit premature to fully label the 2022 Cowboys as pretenders. They show fraudulent tendencies for sure, but the comprehensive answer to this question will be known following their Wild Card game. It will, in all likelihood, be a road game against the NFC South winner. Three of their four losses this season have been on the road, so they definitely don’t have the same road success as 2016, which is worrisome.
Teams need to play nearly perfect football to beat good teams in the playoffs. Dallas have played anything but that down the stretch, and it has been frustrating to watch. But pretenders? They are in some grey area between the two, but we’ll talk again in mid-January. For now, the Cowboys are officially on watch until further notice.