Cowboys fans already know this, but Dak Prescott has been balling out lately. After three straight games with 300+ passing yards, the quarterback has put this offense on his back and led them to two huge wins and one incredibly close loss to the team with the best record in the NFL. Most quarterbacks with the kind of production Prescott is putting up right now would find themselves squarely in the MVP discussion.
Prescott is not like other quarterbacks, though. For whatever reason, national narratives around him have always been odd, to say the least. Take, for example, the histrionics around his interceptions a year ago. After all the talk about Prescott being a turnover machine last year, he’s now got the third lowest turnover worthy play rate in the NFL.
This peculiar treatment of Prescott is still persisting, though. While nobody wants to talk about his sudden drop in turnovers (which is really just a return to his normal body of work), people are also suspiciously omitting him from the MVP debate. According to DraftKings, Prescott currently has +3500 odds to win the award, tying him for 10th best odds.
The player he’s tied with? Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who finished last year with one less interception than Prescott (but more total turnovers) and currently leads the league in interceptions. Allen also just saw his offensive coordinator get fired after his sixth straight game with at least one pick.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Prescott is behind a few other names that raise an eyebrow: 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, Lions quarterback Jared Goff, 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey, and Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud. None of this is to say that those players aren’t performing well this year, but none of them have been better than Prescott. Most would agree that Purdy and Goff are mainly beneficiaries of very talented offenses; McCaffrey would be the first non-quarterback to win the award since 2012; and Stroud would be the first rookie to win MVP since Jim Brown did so in 1957, when the league had just 12 teams.
Well, I’m here to tell you that Prescott is firmly in this MVP race, even if the betting markets don’t reflect it yet. Over the last five weeks, Prescott leads the entire league in both EPA/play and completion percentage over expected (CPOE). For the whole year, he’s second in EPA/play and fourth in CPOE.
Prescott also leads the league in completion rate, with a 70.7% figure. He’s fourth in adjusted yards per attempt with an 8.3 average. He’s third in QBR, behind just Patrick Mahomes and Purdy. And in addition to having one of the lowest turnover worthy play rates, he leads the league in big time throw rate.
Not only has Prescott been setting the league on fire, especially these last few weeks, but he’s been the engine for this Cowboys offense. Dallas boasts the third best third-down conversion rate in the league, and much of that is because of Prescott: he leads all quarterbacks in EPA/play and success rate on third-down passing attempts. Prescott is better at moving the chains on third down than any other quarterback in the NFL this year.
In previous seasons, Prescott’s gaudy numbers could largely be attributed to a scheme that was designed around balance between the passing and running games. In other words, he wasn’t the one being asked to single-handedly power the offense the way that players like Mahomes or Allen often get asked to do.
That’s not the case this year. The Cowboys’ run game issues have been well documented - their average of 4.0 yards per carry has them tied for 18th in the league, and that’s after some improvements - yet they’re still in the top 10 in yards per play and points per game. In fact, Dallas is one of the more pass happy teams right now, throwing on early downs at the sixth highest rate. The team is putting the ball in Prescott’s hands, asking him to power the offense on his own, and he’s delivering.
It’s understandable why some might discount Prescott’s recent performances given the level of competition, but it’s hard to ignore these numbers when compared to others in the league. Prescott is playing the best football of his career right now, and his play over the last month or so has been better than anyone else in the league.
If Prescott keeps this pace, especially against tougher opponents that await the Cowboys, voters will have no choice but to accept him as the MVP frontrunner. For now, though, it’s enough to just acknowledge that he’s absolutely in the mix, and maybe a great bet with the odds he’s being given.