Quarterbacks are often defined by their win-loss record. But not all wins are created equal, and if you're looking for an example, tap a Cowboys fan on the shoulder and ask them how they're feeling today.
The Cowboys are 3-2. They are tied for the lead in the NFC East. They steamrolled through their first three opponents behind a record-setting offense and people were saying that Dak Prescott deserved the $40 million yearly contract he taught.
But two straight losses against the Saints and Packers have changed the narrative. Now people are wondering if the Cowboys are pretenders and if Prescott is a good enough quarterback to beat elite opponents. Turns out they've got a point.
Since taking over as a starter in 2016, Prescott has a 36-20 record. He's never had a losing season and has led the Cowboys to two playoff appearances and one playoff win. All good, right?
Dig deeper in those numbers, however, and there is a disturbing trend. In his career as a starter against teams with a winning record, Prescott is 10-14 (that could change depending on the Packers and Saints record at the end of the season). He went 5-3 in 2016 against winning teams, but since then he's only 5-11.
While that's not his fault alone, and while beating good teams is obviously tougher, the dichotomy between his performances this year against bad teams vs. good teams has been noticeable. In his first three games, he completed 74.7 percent of his passes for 920 yards and 9 TDs against 2 INTs. In his two losses, he's completed 64.1 percent of his passes for 686 yards and 2 TDs against 4 INTs. The contrast couldn't be more obvious.
Prescott has plenty of season to adjust and change these numbers, but the trend is working against him. As he seeks a new contract, this is the kind of leverage the Cowboys might use to squeeze a few bucks back. But regardless, as they get ready to pay him a hefty sum, the Cowboys have to wonder whether he can win a Super Bowl by stringing together three or four straight wins against winning teams when history shows beating good teams isn't their quarterback's strong suit.