2024 NFL playoffs: Three reasons Cowboys will beat Packers, including Dak Prescott-to-CeeDee Lamb connection - CBS Sports, Garrett Podell
Dak-to-CeeDee is dangerous.
2. Dak Prescott’s connection with CeeDee Lamb
“I don’t think there is another quarterback and receiver that has put in as much time as me and CeeDee have, going back to the offseason,” Prescott said postgame on Sunday after defeating the Commanders. “I think he’s the best receiver in the game. I’m going to throw the ball to him in tight windows. I’m going to expect him to make one-on-one plays. He’s a hell of a player. He makes my job a lot easier. … This is really just the beginning. He’s a young player, a special player, and we’re only going to get better.”
With the Cowboys winning 12 games to earn the NFC’s No. 2 seed with the highest scoring offense in the NFL (29.9) points per game, Prescott has a legitimate NFL MVP case, leading the league in passing touchdowns (36) while ranking in the top five in numerous metrics across the board.
Much of that production came with 24-year-old wide receiver CeeDee Lamb on the other side of Prescott’s NFL-best 410 completions. Lamb broke Hall of Famer Michael Irvin’s team, single-season records for catches (135) and receiving yards (1,749) in 16 games while leading the entire NFL in targets (181), catches (135) and catches of 20 or more yards (29, tied with Dolphins All-Pro Tyreek Hill).
Prescott and Lamb mark the first time the same team has had both the NFL’s leader in touchdown passes and catches in the same season on the same team. The last squad to have both was the 2007 New England Patriots with future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady and Wes Welker. That group won their first 18 games of the year before falling just short in the Super Bowl.
CeeDee Lamb joins NFL’s receiving elite in career year with the Cowboys. He says it’s just a start - The Associated Press, Schuyler Dixon
CeeDee Lamb is elite.
FRISCO, Texas (AP) — CeeDee Lamb learned to embrace No. 88 when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones insisted he wear the number associated with some of the best receivers in club history.
Next he adjusted to the role of Dak Prescott’s top target after the Cowboys decided it was his time two years ago and traded Amari Cooper.
Now the 2020 first-round pick has put together the best receiving season the storied franchise has ever seen, and believes he can be called one of the NFL’s best.
“I’m definitely one of the elite receivers in this game,” Lamb said. “I worked my tail off to be that and to say that confidently. It’s good to be elite, but how consistent? How long can you be elite is the next challenge. I’m looking forward to it. Can’t wait.”
But it will wait. First, Lamb wants to get the Cowboys (12-5) past the divisional round for the first time in 28 years.
Barnwell has the No. 1 seed 49ers hosting the No. 2 seed Cowboys in the conference championships, and after three consecutive losses to the 49ers, this game will be the end of the Cowboys’ playoff push this year, right?
Not so fast. When one team has beaten another in consecutive postseasons and then faces that team for the third consecutive postseason, what happens next? I went back through post-merger NFL history to see. If the one team totally dominates the other, it should keep winning in that third game, right?
That doesn’t happen. In those third games, the dominating team that won the first two contests has gone 3-4 in the third playoff game.
There is something that does give the 49ers trouble, though: motion. They rank eighth in EPA per play when offenses are static before the snap, but that figure drops to 28th when the offense has a player in motion. The 49ers played the Cowboys in Week 6, just before Dallas’ bye. And since returning from that bye, Prescott & Co. have been an entirely different offense.
The Cowboys have more than doubled their plays in which a player is in motion at the time of the snap, which is the particular motion the 49ers have struggled with. McCarthy has upped his team’s pass rate on early downs in neutral situations. And perhaps as a result, they have been the most efficient offense in football since the bye. Some will point toward an easier schedule after the bye as a cause, and while I’m willing to believe that helped, I pointed out in my awards column that Prescott has been much better against bad teams than average quarterbacks.
That’s the path for a Cowboys upset. Throw early to get a lead, get pressure on Purdy, force an interception or two and make the 49ers one-dimensional. We saw the Ravens and Bengals beat Purdy that way earlier this season. I might be too attached to my preseason pick of the Cowboys winning the NFC, but they can beat the 49ers.
Prediction: Cowboys 27, 49ers 21
Potential last run for Cowboys with Dan Quinn should be motivation for playoffs - Blogging the Boys, Sean Martin
May be the last run for this current coaching configuration.
The Dallas Cowboys find themselves in many familiar places as they enter the playoffs as the NFC’s second seed. They’ve won 12 games for the third season in a row. They’ve won the division for the second time under Mike McCarthy. They are preparing to face the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs for the third time since 2014, and second time from AT&T Stadium with Dak Prescott at QB. Prescott is having the best season of his career in McCarthy’s first year as play-caller, and extending Dallas’ home win streak to 16 games dating back to 2022 is likely the first reason to have confidence in the Cowboys as a touchdown favorite to advance on Sunday to the Divisional Round, but it is also much more than that.
When considering Prescott is surrounded by other cornerstone players still on the rise like CeeDee Lamb. Jake Ferguson, and Tyler Smith, as well as core veterans still playing at a high level like Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, and Brandin Cooks, the Cowboys seemingly have some staying power at the top of the NFC playoff picture. They also - by their own admission - want to play with a sense of urgency, staying true to the “carpe omnia” (seize everything) motto instilled in the offseason.
Where might this sense of urgency come from for a team trying to do something no Cowboys squad has since 1996 - reach the NFC Championship Game - with players that can remember previous heartbreaking playoff exits to the Packers? This answer is likely on the defensive side of the ball, where the typical high-variance in year to year results hasn’t occurred in year three of Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator. Not all of the Cowboys defensive efforts leading up to the playoffs in December were as expected, but this unit ended the season locked in with strong performances against the Lions and Commanders. They forced five turnovers in those two wins and set the tone up front with five different players recording a sack over that stretch.
Rapoport: Bill Belichick, Cowboys’ Jerry Jones Have ‘Really Good’ Relationship - Bleacher Report, Zach Bachar
Rumors will swirl.
If the Dallas Cowboys make a change at head coach, Bill Belichick may be a potential option due to his relationship with team owner Jerry Jones.
“The relationship between Jerry Jones and Bill Belichick is a really good one,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said in an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show.
"The relationship between Jerry Jones and Bill Belichick is a really good one..— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) January 11, 2024
I really do think Mike McCarthy stays but if something does happen there's a long history there" ~ @RapSheet #PMSLive pic.twitter.com/sg7n8hRrwl
Cowboys LB Micah Parsons on Dan Quinn’s future: ‘He might take me with him, you never know’ - NFL.com, Grant Gordon
Quinn’s worth to this team cannot be understated.
One of Quinn’s star pupils, Micah Parsons, isn’t enamored with the prospects of Quinn leaving, but understands it’s all part of being in the NFL. And perhaps Quinn would even take Parsons with him.
“Dan’s my guy,” Parsons told reporters Thursday. “And if he do leave me, it’s always love. He might take me with him, you never know.”
Parsons was laughing when he delivered the line and it’s next door to impossible that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones won’t be locking up his all-star backer with an extension sometime in the near future. Nonetheless, the comment underscores how fond Parsons is of Quinn and might be a subtle play on contract talks. The 2021 first-rounder is signed through 2024 on his rookie deal with a fifth-year option, and Jones has already emphasizedthe importance of a Parsons extension this summer while dealing with guard Zack Martin’s holdout.
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