2017 NFL Playoffs: Dallas Cowboys Have A Lot To Be Excited About Despite Loss To Green Bay Packers

When Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo went down with a broken bone in his back during the team’s third preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, the 2016 NFL Season looked to be a lost year despite not having officially started. The Cowboys would be forced to turn to a fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State by the name of Dak Prescott.

Although he didn’t turn the ball over, Prescott wasn’t able to make enough plays in a season-opening loss at the hands of the New York Giants. Dak completed 25-of-45 passes for 225 yards with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions as the offense was forced to kick four field goals in a 20-19 defeat.

Following that loss, Prescott and the Cowboys would embark on an 11-game winning streak which helped the team to a 13-3 overall record. Dallas would also clinch the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC and win the NFC East for the first time since 2014.

Dak completed a whopping 67.8 percent of his passes during the regular season and threw for 3,667 yards with 23 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Prescott has made Tony Romo expendable now with his performance during 2016 and the Dallas Cowboys have a franchise quarterback for the next 10-15 years.

Not only did the Cowboys find a franchise quarterback, but they also found themselves a bell cow at running back in Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott led the NFL in rushing during 2016 with 1,631 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. He also added 32 catches for 363 yards and a touchdown threw the air while providing excellent pass protection for his quarterback.

With Dak and Elliott in the backfield, the best offensive line in the NFL, and Dez Bryant on the outside, the Dallas Cowboys are built to win for a long time as long as they make some upgrades on the defensive side of the ball.

During Sunday’s heartbreaking 34-31 defeat at the hands of the Green Bay Packers, the Cowboys’ defense allowed 414 total yards and allowed the Packers to convert 6-of-11 on third-down conversions, according to ESPN. The defense had a difficult time getting off the field and allowed Aaron Rodgers to throw for 356 yards and two touchdowns despite not having the services of his best receiver, Jordy Nelson.

The Cowboys have some decent players on the defensive side of the ball such as linebackers Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens, safeties Byron Jones and Barry Church, and corner Morris Claiborne, but the defensive line struggles to get pressure with their front-four and Brandon Carr has begun to show his age in the secondary.

Through most of the 2016 NFL Season, the Cowboys were able to mask their deficiencies on defense by playing keep away on offense. Dallas led the NFL in time of possession during the regular season, but were only able to keep the ball for 30:14 on Sunday after being forced to chase the Packers following an early 21-3 deficit.

Despite the early hole, Prescott, Elliott, and the Cowboys were able to mount a comeback that saw them tie the game at 31 with 35 seconds remaining in the game. Unfortunately, Rodgers was able to hit tight end Jared Cook with a 36-yard pass with 3 seconds left to put the Packers in field goal position and kicker Mason Crosby was able to nail a 51-yarder to send Green Bay to the NFC Championship Game.

Even with the disappointing loss, the Dallas Cowboys have a bright future ahead thanks to Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant, and the offensive line. Look for them to be Super Bowl contenders for years to come.

[Featured Image by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]