Can Dak Prescott quarterback Cowboys to playoff success?


As the Dallas Cowboys’ quest for a sixth Super Bowl triumph carries on into 2023, postseason pressure is already building — never mind that training camp has yet to kick off in Oxnard, California.

Though burden abounds, it rests most heavily upon the head coach and, of course, the shoulder pads worn by the franchise quarterback.

Thus, Dak Prescott, who has admitted feeling a sense of urgency, enters a pivotal campaign with perhaps Dallas’ most prevailing quandary being whether he can lead the Cowboys to any playoff success. A look inside the numbers provided by NFL Research shows history and the statistics are not in Prescott’s favor as it pertains to playoff success.

Since their last Lombardi Trophy was hoisted at the conclusion of Super Bowl XXX, the Cowboys have yet to return to the NFC Championship Game, posting a dismal 0-7 mark in the Divisional Round. Three of those losses, including last season’s defeat against the San Francisco 49ers, have come with Prescott under center, as he’s become one of five QBs in the Super Bowl era to start three or more divisional tilts and go winless.

Who was the last to do so?

Well, it was current CBS analyst and former Cowboys QB1 Tony Romo, who Prescott succeeded in Dallas. The Cowboys are the only franchise with two quarterbacks to play in three or more Divisional Round games without winning one. Long gone are the days of Hall of Fame Cowboys greats Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, whose reputations were borne of playoff conquests and clutch play that saw them go 5-2 and 4-1, respectively, in the Divisional Round. Those days of Cowboys QBs captaining their squads to long postseason runs have ridden off into the sunset so far this century.

Prescott’s been the Cowboys’ starter since his rookie season. He’s become a beloved teammate, earned a pair of Pro Bowls, offered up brilliance in games, produced regular seasons of elite play and led Dallas to five winning campaigns and four playoff appearances.

Unfortunately, he’s just 2-4 as a postseason starter (61-36 in the regular season). Prescott’s .333 playoff win percentage is the second-worst over the last 10 postseasons (among 23 quarterbacks with five-plus playoff starts), trailing just Alex Smith (2-5; .286).

Picking nits on Prescott’s pair of playoff wins doesn’t bode well statistically, either.

Prescott quarterbacked Dallas to playoff wins in the 2022 and 2018 seasons over the 8-9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 10-6 Seattle Seahawks. The 18-15 combined record of those Prescott opponents adds up to the lowest opponent win percentage (.545) in playoff wins among 109 QBs to win multiple postseason contests in their career.

Statistically speaking, the playoff deck is stacked against Dak.

Regardless, there’s another big season ahead for Big D, and for the Cowboys to return to the Super Bowl for the first time in nearly three decades, Prescott will need to stiff-arm the history and the numbers going against him.