Frisco, Texas – Dak Prescott.The pronunciation was less rigid.

Certainly, at the cost of looks, the Dallas Cowboys‘ Tour Minnesota Vikings This is the weekend before the postseason slate.

But the Cowboys quarterback wasn’t encouraging the environment or the stakes, saying the contest between a 6-3 team (Dallas) and an 8-1 powerhouse “is a playoff game.” Instead, this November matchup of conference foes features two postseason-eligible teams. And the teams share a remarkable trait: They’re winning without an MVP quarterback.

As the NFL enters its 11th week of the season, clarity is emerging on the teams in the playoffs across the league. Ten have won at least two-thirds of their games, five of which are backed by quarterbacks who have five good odds to win this year’s NFL MVP honors. At BetMGM.

of Kansas City ChiefsPatrick Mahomes (+125), Buffalo BillsJosh Allen (+500), Philadelphia EaglesJalen will be hurt. (+500), Miami DolphinsTua Tagovailoa (+500) and Baltimore RavensLamar Jackson (+1200) First in the list. Another player’s odds are no better than +2500.

While none of these five players are standouts, their passing ability is tied to their trip to the playoffs. Tagovailoa leads the league with a 118.4 passer rating that measures attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns and interceptions. Hurts ranked third, Mahomes fourth, Allen seventh and Jackson eighth.

Cousins ​​and Prescott post the 20th and 24th best offensive ratings, respectively.

Which begs the question: What role has each quarterback played in the team’s fast start? And how does that affect their face this weekend?

Touch of the clutch

Cousins ​​is consistent if not elite. He threw between one and two touchdowns per game, averaged 261.8 yards per game through the air, eighth among league quarterbacks.

His touchdown-to-interception ratio doubled from last year’s impressive 4.7 (33-to-7), down from his current 1.75 (14-to-8). But Cousins ​​executed when it mattered most when the Vikings had won by one point or less in seven of eight nail-biting games. No quarterback has led more game-winning drives this year than Cousins’ five. There is no traveler beyond the five returns. After the Vikings dropped eight of their nine losses by a one-possession margin last season, the swing is surprising.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins ​​(8) isn't putting up eye-popping numbers this season, but he's getting the job done when it matters.  (AP Photo/Daniel Cousin Jr.)
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk relatives He’s not putting up eye-popping numbers this season, but he’s getting the job done when it matters. (AP Photo/Daniel Cousin Jr.)

“He’s getting those inches,” Akstins said. “At the end of every game, I prefer not to rely on that play, but you understand in this league, they tend to come down to the last drive. And these games are just like that. I think it’s good for us to be battle-tested.

“It helps us move forward.”

The Vikings have created the seventh most explosive passing attack with strong weapons. Receivers Justin Jefferson And Adam Thielen provide Cousins ​​with consistently reliable targets. Minnesota also immediately drafted a tight end. TJ Hokenson In the two games since Get him at the trade deadline. Jefferson’s acrobatics impressed the league last Sunday when he was there He stole a fourth-and-18 target From the defensive hand of the Bills. His 1,060 receiving yards are tied only for the Miami Dolphins. Tyreek Hill (1,148) Jefferson’s line running instincts, speed and superior body control lead to success with most riders. But Cousins ​​deserves credit for his relationship with the third-year skill player.

“Both of them have been critical to our success this year and have proven to me that they are a big part of not only where we are now, but where we are going forward,” Connell said this week. “They came together the way I saw their relationship growing. I’ve seen both Justin’s maturity as a professional here in his 3rd year as a premier player in this league but I’ve seen the offense in his 1st year of Kirk’s cousins ​​playing a lot of football.

With a bottom-five defense and a below-average rushing attack, the Vikings’ passing attack has been extremely reliable this season. O’Connell’s philosophies on game planning include special packages, personnel, simulations and tempos that help maximize his abilities. Once again, the cousins ​​took the lead in executing the plan.

“He’s had a lot of success in his career, but some elements are new and different this year and we’re going to ask a lot from him,” O’Connell said. He’s trying to be the best when he’s needed and I think you can’t say enough about the quarterback position.

“It’s not as clean or as good as I’d like.”

Prescott, on the other hand, has participated in only four of the nine games he played in Dallas. He missed 2-6 weeks after breaking the thumb on his throwing hand in the season-opening loss to Dallas. With a gap of a week between his last two starts, his schedule and performance have each been inconsistent.

When Drivers He upset the Cowboys last Sunday, which was in full display.

Prescott opened the game 0-for-4, as the Cowboys put together two three-and-outs, head coach Mike McCarthy later lamented the onset of rust in Prescott’s first outing of the year. The next series: Prescott completed 10 of 11 attempts (albeit short), as well as rushing for three first downs, capped by a 17-play, 83-yard drive by Prescott. CeeDee sheep Touching.

In the four games since returning from a thumb injury, quarterback Dak Prescott has been up and down for Dallas Cowboys.  (Photo by Stacey Revere/Getty Images)

In the four games since returning from a thumb injury, quarterback Dak Prescott has been up and down for the Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Stacey Revere/Getty Images)

Prescott finished the game with 265 yards and three touchdowns — but he completed just 58.7% of his attempts and threw two interceptions on defensive throws, the Cowboys said, because his receivers didn’t run fast enough.

Through four games, Prescott has completed 63.8% of his attempts for 865 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions. He has flashed some streaks, but also dropped picks at the highest clip of his seven-year career.

Prescott was asked Thursday if his performance this season has been inconsistent.

“Hungry? “That’s a good question,” he said. “I can’t necessarily say that. Like you said it’s five games for me, some things are getting on the same page, the guys are going to help him, and they do… but obviously it’s not 5-0 in those games. I want it.”

Prescott insists he believes in his arm and his intentions, so he intends to keep “ripping it up.” McCarthy said Prescott’s “best days are ahead of him” but he has nothing to worry about.

Fact: The Cowboys’ 4-1 record without Prescott, compared to their 2-2 record with him, doesn’t indicate a backup quarterback. Cooper Rush It is an advanced option. But it points to the formula that has fueled the Cowboys’ winning streak, a dominant running game that complements a stout defense early on with a vicious pass rush.

When Rush plays, the Cowboys don’t ask much of their quarterback. In the Cowboys’ four wins, Rush has thrown four touchdowns with no interceptions. (He threw one touchdown and three picks against Philly.) The offense bled the clock and kept the Cowboys’ defense fresh, while the clean football cut down on opponents’ chances. Defenses took pride in carrying the team in Prescott’s absence. Since his return, some defenders have admitted a sense of urgency has slipped. Each of the last two games, Opponents torched the Cowboys with over 200 rushing yards. In a surprising game plan trend. The Cowboys blew a 14-point fourth quarter lead against the Green Bay Packers.

The linebacker said, “S***, not again Micah Parsons he said. “If Duck goes out there and gives me that lead again, I promise we won’t do that again.”

So what can fans expect between the Cowboys and Vikings?

Who has the edge?

The Cowboys have beaten Minnesota in each of the past two seasons. They are. In favor of 1.5 points Despite the Vikings’ outstanding record on the road.

Perhaps that stems in part from a general bias against the Cowboys, but it may also reflect the team’s relative strengths. The Cowboys’ pass defense can stifle Cousins ​​and tempt mistakes. If running back Ezekiel Elliott. (Knee) returns after a two-week absence as expected, with the Cowboys likely to wear down the Vikings with Elliott and a flexible back. Tony Pollard.

“They have so many villains,” O’Connell said. “I mean, they can really wreak havoc with a bunch of guys up front. They get a lot of different 1-on-1s, and … I told our team, ‘You can’t let one pass.’ [without] Basically, the technique, the understanding of the placement, what the call is, 100 percent of the call. Because if you release one game, it can be a game changer.

The Cowboys must likewise defend against out-of-zone runs and Jefferson’s heroics or risk losing in a loaded division.

“They’re going to get a weak connection and attack,” Cowboys safety Jayron Cares he said. “They’re going to get you into matches.”

Individual disagreements may arise. But these two teams in the sport’s most influential areas are a good match.

The NFL is about to learn a little more about this pair of postseason contenders — and just how serious a threat their quarterbacks are now and in the playoffs.

Follow Yahoo Sports’ Jory Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein

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