Dak Prescott, quarterback, Cowboys
When: The Cowboys were the first team to punch their tickets to the postseason, thanks in no small part to Dak Prescott, their rookie quarterback who filled in for and then supplanted veteran Tony Romo this season. With a win Sunday against the Buccaneers and a Giants loss to Detroit, Prescott and Dallas can clinch the NFC East title and receive a first-round bye.
What’s up: Prescott struggled last Sunday against the Giants, throwing two picks and taking three sacks. But his play this season has been nothing short of extraordinary. Before the loss he became the first rookie to throw at least one TD pass and no interceptions in five consecutive games and, with the help of rookie tailback Ezekiel Elliott, helped Dallas to a franchise-record 11-game winning streak.
Background: Every team in the NFL whiffed on Prescott in the draft, including the Cowboys. If you’ll recall, Dallas tried to trade up to nab Paxton Lynch and, later, Connor Cook. But the Cowboys failed on both and snagged Prescott in the fourth round. That’s right: Prescott was Plan C.
Jhabvala’s take: Prescott and Elliott have been the biggest stories of the season, reviving a storied franchise that had been to the playoffs only once in the previous six seasons and single-handedly saving the NFL from a ratings disaster. Simply put, Prescott is fun to watch. He produces. He’s efficient. And in a league that, like it or not, still revolves around its quarterbacks, he’s quickly becoming one of the best.
Dak Prescott, a rookie from Mississippi State, is 11-2 as a starting quarterback in the NFL, including 6-1 on the road. Not bad for a fourth-round pick. Al Bello, Getty Images