Can Andy Dalton lead Cowboys to the playoffs? History with Bengals is good news — until he gets there

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The Cowboys will turn to Andy Dalton at quarterback for the rest of the 2020 season.  

Dak Prescott suffered a compound fracture and a dislocation of his right ankle in Week 5. Dalton finished 9 of 11 passing for 111 yards in a 37-34 victory against the Giants. The Cowboys improved to 2-3 as a result, and Dalton now is tasked with leading a potential run through the NFC East into the postseason for the Cowboys.  

Is Dalton the right quarterback for the job? Let's take a closer look:  

MORE: Breaking down Andy Dalton's Cowboys contract

Andy Dalton playoff stats: How many games has he won?

Dalton has postseason experience. The Bengals made five straight playoff appearances from 2011-15. Dalton was 0-4 with one TD and six interceptions in four playoff starts.   

A look at those starts:  

Houston 31, Cincinnati 10 (Jan. 7, 2012): Dalton passed for 257 yards, but threw three interceptions in a blowout loss to Houston.  

Houston 19, Cincinnati 13 (Jan. 5, 2013): The Bengals and Texans met in a playoff rematch, and Dalton hit just 14 of 30 passes for 127 yards and an interception.  

San Diego 27, Cincinnati 10 (Jan. 5, 2014): The Bengals failed to take advantage of a home playoff game in a loss to the Chargers. Dalton finished 29 of 51 for 334 yards, a TD and two interceptions.  

Indianapolis 26, Cincinnati 10 (Jan. 4, 2015): Dalton hit 18 of 35 passes for 155 yards in a loss to the Colts.  

To be fair, Dalton led the Bengals to a 10-3 record as a starter in 2015 before he suffered a broken thumb against Pittsburgh. A.J. McCarron started in the AFC wild-card loss to the Steelers later that season.  

Bottom line? Dalton is capable of leading Dallas to the postseason in a weak division. The big question will be what happens if the Cowboys get there.  

Andy Dalton as a starter  

Dalton was a second-round pick by the Bengals in the 2011 NFL Draft, and he had a winning track record as a starter. The three-time Pro Bowl selection had a 70-61-2 record as a starter.  

That's comparable to Cam Newton, the No. 1 pick in the same draft, who is 70-56-1.  

Dalton's last season in Cincinnati did not go well, however. He was benched by first-year coach Zac Taylor after an 0-8 start, and he returned late in the season to lead a pair of victories. When the Bengals drafted Joe Burrow with the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, it was clear Dalton's time in Cincnnati was up.  

The Cowboys signed Dalton to a one-year deal worth up to $7 million on May 3. Dalton was one of the more-experienced backups in the NFL.  

MORE: How long is Dak Prescott out?

How old is Andy Dalton? 

Dalton turns 33 on Oct. 29, and this is his 10th season in the NFL. He spent his first nine seasons in Cincinnati.  

Cowboys fans know Andy Dalton  

Dalton is a Katy, Texas, native who led that high school powerhouse to a state championship game appearance in 2005. That high-school career will be brought to light on Monday against Arizona, which features another Texas high school legend in Kyler Murray.  

Dalton also had a successful college career at TCU. He was 42-8 as the starter for the Horned Frogs, and that included a perfect 12-0 season with a Rose Bowl victory against Wisconsin in 2009.   

Dalton had success against the NFC East  

The Cowboys are in first place in the NFC East, and Dalton is 5-3-1 against teams in that division for his career. He’s played well in those games, too, with a 100.5 passer rating, 15 TDs and four interceptions. Dalton averages 228.9 passing yards per game against that division.  

Dallas has five division games left, including back-to-back games against Washington and Philadelphia in Week 7 and Week 8. The Cowboys can take control of the division with victories in those games.  

Circle these dates  

Dalton has some interesting games on the schedule the season that will generate some interest:  

Week 9 vs. Pittsburgh: Dalton was 3-13 in 16 career games against the Steelers during his time with the Bengals.  

Week 13 vs. Baltimore: A Thursday Night Football game against the Ravens and Lamar Jackson should provide instant entertainment.  

Week 14 at Cincinnati: Dalton returns to Cincinnati and will face his former team.  

That last game will set up a stretch run against the 49ers, Eagles and Giants that should determine whether the Cowboys are a playoff-caliber team.  

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