The Cowboys are currently tied for the sixth worst record in the league at 4-9, which should rank them 26th or 27th in our power rankings. But that is not the case. The consensus ranking this week has the Cowboys at around the 20th spot. The reason for this is nicely summarized by Joe Zarbano from Weii.com:
"I like what the Cowboys have done since the departure of Wade Phillips. In their last five games, the Cowboys have scored 30 or more points. In the two games they’ve lost, they’ve at least played competitive football. The final in both those losses has been 30-27."
But that also puts the Cowboys in somewhat of a conundrum: If the season were to end today, they'd stand to get the 7th pick in the draft, but ranked 20th they'd move down the draftboard to number 13. The team the Cowboys share a 4-9 record with are the Cardinals (ARI opp. W/L: .466; DAL: .529), their opponent in two weeks, while the Redskins, next week's opponent, are at 5-8. Ironically, wins over both teams would almost certainly move both teams ahead of the Cowboys on the draft boards.
After the break, we look at the where the NFC East teams are ranked by various power rankings.
[Note: 20 of 20 power rankings are now included in this post.]
1. Major Media Networks & Affiliates
USAToday.com: 17th (n.c.).
SportingNews.com: 18th (n.c.). "Their goal was to invoke the Jimmy Johnson years. Unfortunately, their record meshes more with Dave Campo's teams."
National Football Post: 18th (+3). "Once again, the Cowboys secondary was exposed in the loss to Philly."
NFL.com's Brain Trust of Experts: 19th (-1). Jason La Canfora appears to have finally recovered from having spent 10 years with the Washington Post, including five seasons on the Redskins beat, and ranks the Cowboys 15th.
[updated] SI.com: 20th (20). "Dallas hasn't finished in sole possession of last place in the NFC East since the end of the dismal Dave Campo era in 2002, and it can take a step toward making sure it stays that way with a win at home against third-place Washington (5-8) this week. The Redskins know all about last place, having finished with at least a share of it in four of the past six seasons."
ESPN: 20th (+4). "Jason Garrett could be in good shape to be the full-time coach until Jeff Fisher is freed from Tennessee. (Clayton)"
Fox Sports: 21st (n.c.). "Give them credit for their effort against Philadelphia last week. Interim head coach Jason Garrett continues to get his players to play hard and with more discipline. It's interesting that when he was the offensive coordinator, the offense had no identity. Now they have become more of a power running team."
2. Blogs & Other Media
ColdHardFootballFacts.com: 20th (+1). "QB Jon Kitna has produced fewer passing yards than his opponents six weeks running – but you’d kind of expect it against Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Michael Vick. Oh, and Shaun Hill."
Weii.com: 21st (+1). "I like what the Cowboys have done since the departure of Wade Phillips. In their last five games, the Cowboys have scored 30 or more points. In the two games they’ve lost, they’ve at least played competitive football. The final in both those losses has been 30-27."
SB Nation: 21st (+2). "Tough break for the Cowboys who made things interesting against the Eagles last weekend. The Cowboys could use some momentum heading into next season. If only the Jason Garrett era came earlier -- this team isn't the push over it was early in the year."
ProFootballTalk.com: 22nd (n.c.). "The Cowboys aren’t far off from being one of the best teams in the conference."
Fanhouse.com: 22nd (-2). "At this point in the season, the Cowboys are playing to escape last place in the NFC East. Things have taken a slight turn for the better under interim head coach Jason Garrett, with wins in three of their last five -- the losses coming to the Eagles on Sunday night and Saints in Week 12, but the 'Boys could win out the season and still wouldn't reach .500"
3. Statistics, Computer & Vegas rankings
[updated] AdvancedNFLstats: 16th (+1). Offense ranked No. 6 (+1), defense ranked No. 28 (-2). This ranking model includes offensive and defensive passing and running efficiency, offensive turnover rates, defensive interception rates, and team penalty rates.
Betus.com: 18th (-1). "Anyone else find it ironic that running back Tashard Choice made a decision that makes you wonder why he has that last name? It would be like if Ben Roethlisberger’s last name was "chivalry". Next Game: Washington vs. Dallas -6.0"
Jeff Sagarin's NFL rankings: 23rd (n.c.). These are rankings based on W/L record, points differential and schedule strength.
WhatIFsports: 23rd (+2). These guys simulate every possible match-up in the NFL 100 times, and use the winning percentages from those nearly 50,000 games to evaluate every team, with updated rosters and depth charts.
Covers.com: 24th (n.c.). "Dallas held its own against the Eagles. The Cowboys are 3-2 under Jason Garrett with both losses coming by just a field goal as he has the inside track on the permanent job."
FootballOutsiders.com: 26th (n.c.). Offense ranked No. 19 (+1), Defense No. 28 (n.c.), Special Teams No. 14 (n.c.).
Below is how the NFC East fared in this week's power rankings.