Andy Dalton throwing a pass

With Dak Prescott injured for the year, the Dallas Cowboys will turn to veteran Andy Dalton in their push to win the NFC East. Photo from @AroundTheNFL

  • Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott left the game against the New York Giants with a compound ankle fracture
  • The Cowboys’ odds to win the NFC East actually increased, but decreased significantly for Super Bowl 55
  • Read below for updated odds and analysis

When the Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants on Sunday, their odds for winning the NFC East improved, but that came at a heavy cost.

Quarterback Dak Prescott ran up and out of the pocket, toward the sideline with just under seven minutes in the third quarter and suffered a compound fracture to his ankle as he was tackled. Giants defensive back Logan Ryan trapped Prescott’s foot underneath him as the two fell to the ground, and the QB left the field on a cart.

The Cowboys held the best chances to win a division title in the NFC East odds entering the week, and even at 1-3, their Super Bowl odds were still +3000; 13th-highest in the league. Now, with Andy Dalton stepping in for what looks to be the remainder of the season, sportsbooks have made some adjustments to both.

Cowboys NFC East Division Odds

Before Week 5 After Week 5
-110 -125

Cowboys Super Bowl 55 Odds

Before Week 5 After Week 5
+3000 +4400

Odds taken from FanDuel on Oct. 11

Prior to the injury, Prescott was 14-for-21 passing for 166 yards with an interception. Afterwards, Dalton led the Cowboys to a touchdown drive that ended with a 12-yard Ezekiel Elliott touchdown to put Dallas up 31-23. In the final possession of the game, Dalton completed three consecutive passes for 72 yards to set up the game-winning field goal that sealed the 37-34 win.

Prescott led the league in passing and finished his last three games with more than 450 yards in each. He was leading the NFL in completed passes, and was a top-five QB in yards and air yards per attempt during those three games heading into Sunday.

Although Dalton was able to finish the game with the win, his offensive line is in rough shape going forward. Just days ago, the team announced that starting offensive tackle Tyron Smith is to have neck surgery and miss the rest of the year. Fellow starter La’El Collins was placed on injured reserve earlier in October with a hip injury as well. Dalton felt that when he was sacked on his first play in the game, but that was the only one, and he finished with 111 yards through the air.

With the Cincinnati Bengals, Dalton played the NFC East in its 2012 schedule rotation. He finished with a 3-1 record against the division and his only loss came to the Cowboys. Circumstances are certainly much different this season, but he does have the benefit of having Elliott in the backfield and a strong trio of wide receivers to work with.

The Road Ahead

The battered Eagles lost to Pittsburgh and fell to 1-3-1, while the Washington Football Team lost its fourth of the season to the LA Rams, 30-10. With Dallas’ win over New York, the Cowboys escape with a 2-3 record and the Giants fell to 0-5.

Prior to this week, Dallas had allowed the third-most yards in the NFL on defense, and finished its game on Sunday with just one interception to 12 touchdown passes allowed on the season. The shape the Cowboys are in with their depth and health is reminiscent to Dalton’s Bengals last season. In 13 games, he completed 59% of his passes and finished with the worst passer rating in the league.

That being said, the NFC East as a whole is in dire straights between injuries and poor play. The Cowboys should get Cam Erving back to help the offensive line within the next few weeks and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch sometime next month.

Dallas does have a more dynamic offense than Dalton had to work with last year, but the element of it that included Prescott’s mobility is out the window. This is the sort of scenario it pays to have a player like him as a backup, unfortunately, the role of late-career game manager is made all the more difficult with such a poor defensive unit.

The Cowboys face the Arizona Cardinals next week before traveling to Washington and Philadelphia. Dallas has five division games left on its schedule — two of those against the Eagles (+130) — and still are in a position of controlling their own destiny.

The Verdict

Any thought of the Cowboys as legitimate Super Bowl contenders should be buried. However, Prescott has been a rallying point for the Cowboys this season among public criticism and high expectations. The Cowboys should come back with an emotional bump at home against Arizona, but if things go south in that game, spirits could fade pretty quickly.

Philadelphia plays Baltimore and Washington plays the Giants next week, so it’s plausible that the Cowboys could be tied for first in the division at 2-4 following next week’s games. Should that happen, the time would be right to fire on Dallas for the division. Otherwise, since Dallas didn’t move to plus-money following Prescott’s injury, waiting to see how the Cowboys do against the Cardinals is advisable. Those looking to make a play sooner than that need be confident Dallas can take at least one of two from Philadelphia in their upcoming games.

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