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NFL player props: Dak Prescott ready to roll after injury

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NFL football is finally back. 

The regular season opens Thursday night with the defending Super Bowl Champions playing host to America's Team. The Buccaneers are currently 8.5-point favorites with the total set at 51.5 points against the Dallas Cowboys

One of the main storylines heading into the new season is the return of Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott was putting up ridiculous numbers through the first month of last season, but then suffered a gruesome injury in Week 5 that cost him the remainder of the campaign. Prescott was paid handsomely during the offseason, so the expectations are high. 

Just how great was Dak in 2020?

Prescott hasn't played in an NFL game since October 2020, so some might be forgetting just how ridiculous his numbers were through the first month of last season. 

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 11:  Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys attempts a pass against the New York Giants during the second quarter at AT&T Stadium on October 11, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys during a 2020 regular-season game against the New York Giants. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

He played four complete games last season, completing 68% of his passes while throwing nine touchdowns and three interceptions. He averaged 423 passing yards per game. He threw for at least 450 passing yards three times and over 500 once. Prescott also added 86 yards on the ground with three touchdowns. 

In those four games, Prescott averaged over 50 passing attempts per game. In an ideal world, no quarterback drops back to pass with that level of frequency, but Dallas' defense was awful. With the Cowboys' defense still a huge question mark, Prescott should continue to throw the ball at a high volume. 

Game script will likely be favorable on Thursday

Prop betting and fantasy football feels a bit backward sometimes. Often, having a player on a bad team or playing in a game they're expected to lose is a positive. Teams that are trailing in games run plays at a quicker pace and they throw the ball more. 

On Thursday, the Cowboys are 8.5-point underdogs in a game with a total in the 50s. Oddsmakers are projecting a comfortable win for the Buccaneers in a high scoring game. That should be music to the ears of people who want Dak Prescott to put up some numbers. 

Dallas should be playing from behind for most of the night. Tampa Bay averaged nearly 31 points per game last season, the third-best mark in the league. On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys were allowing 29.6 points per game last season, ranking in the bottom five of the league. The Buccaneers will get theirs offensively. 

Will the Cowboys get theirs? They should get some, at least. In the five games Prescott played last season, Dallas averaged 32.6 points per game. With Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup, they have dynamic talent on the offensive side of the ball. 

With that being said, I wouldn't rely on a big game from Elliott on Thursday. Tampa Bay is the only team in the league that kept opposing running backs under 100 yards last season. In the playoffs, they went against Antonio Gibson, Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Those four dynamic running backs averaged under 52 yards per game against the Buccaneers. 

If Dallas' offense gets going, it'll likely be with the arm of Prescott rather than with the legs of Elliott. 

Props to monitor

Passing yards: Over/Under 293.5

This feels low to me. As mentioned above, Prescott threw for 450-plus yards three times last season in four complete games. Dallas will be playing from behind most of the night and the Buccaneers should quiet down Elliott. Garbage time stats count, and I can see Dak compiling a bunch of meaningless stats in the fourth quarter of this one. I'd go over 293.5 passing yards

Rushing yards: Over/Under 12.5

Prescott went over this total in three of the four games he finished last season. The one time he didn't go over, he finished with 12 on the nose. There's obvious trepidation due to the injury he suffered while scrambling, but Prescott might want to put that leg through some early tests. With Zack Martin missing the game for Dallas, Prescott might be forced to scramble more than he'd like. This line also seems a little low. 

Passing attempts: 45-plus (+260)

Once again, this one ties into game script. Prescott had a three-game stretch last season in which he had 47, 57 and 58 passing attempts. If Tampa Bay shuts down Elliott like many expect, Prescott will be forced to throw the ball in order to move the chains. At +260, I love taking a shot on Dak to have at least 45 passing attempts. 

Stats from Pro-Football-Reference