Are the Cowboys the best team with a losing record? If you take just the six games of the Garrett era, they probably are. Over the last six games, the Cowboys are 4-2. Only six teams have a better record over the last six weeks. Four teams are 5-1 over that stretch (Bears, Chargers, Eagles, Saints) and two are 6-0 (Falcons and Patriots). What makes this all the more remarkable is that over this 6-game stretch, the Cowboys have had the sixth toughest schedule by opponent winning percentage (.548, W/L: 46-38) in the league.
The Cowboys offense is also on a roll, scoring 193 points in the last six games, which ranks them third in the league behind the Patriots (227) and Eagles (214).
And for all the criticism the defense has been getting, over the last six games the Cowboys defense is leading the league in takeaways. Yes, you read that correctly. The Cowboys have 16 takeaways in the last 6 game, one more than the second place Patriots and Giants, and two more than the Eagles and Bills. Under Garret's tenure, the offense has turned over the ball seven times, and while this isn't particularly low, the resulting turnover ratio of +9 ranks the Cowboys second in the league behind the Patriots, who have a +15 TO ratio (of course, the Patriots have sold all their firstborns to the devil to achieve this, but that's a different topic).
There are 15 teams with a losing record in the NFL right now. If the Cowboys are indeed the 'best of the rest' they should be ranked somewhere around 17 or 18 in the power rankings. After the break, we look at where the Cowboys and the other NFC East teams are ranked by various power rankings.
[Note: 20 of 20 power rankings are now included in this summary.]
1. Major Media Networks & Affiliates
National Football Post: 16th (+2). "Has Jason Garrett done enough to come back as the head coach in Dallas next season?"
USAToday.com: 17th (n.c.).
NFL.com's Brain Trust of Experts: 17th (+2). Jason La Canfora and Pat Kirwan both have the Cowboys in the top half of all teams in the league: they rank the Cowboys 15th.
ESPN: 18th (+2). "Will somebody put in a missing-persons report on the Cowboys' defense? Someone took the "D" out of Dallas. (Clayton) "
[updated] SI.com: 18th (+2). "I bet the NFL Network wishes it had that flex scheduling option this week. They get to televise Carolina at Pittsburgh on Thursday night, and Dallas at Arizona on Christmas night. That's a heaping dose of holiday-week football, losers style. Watching bad teams playing out the string is where the notion of an 18-game regular season really starts to lose its allure."
CBSSports.com: 20th (+2). "They have responded well to Jason Garrett. Now if they could only fix that defense. It will be interesting to see how motivated they are against Arizona on Christmas night."
Fox Sports: 21st (n.c.). "It's remarkable how well 38-year old QB Jon Kitna has played in relief of injured QB Tony Romo. At least the Cowboys know they are in good hands without Romo, but their defense has regressed significantly this season and there have been few signs of improvement on the horizon."
2. Blogs & Other Media
[updated] ColdHardFootballFacts.com: 17th (+3). "In the first eight games under Wade Phillips, the Cowboys were minus-9 in turnovers. In six games under Jason Garrett, they’re plus-9."
Weii.com: 18th (+3). "The debate is on in Dallas whether Jerry Jones should retain Jason Garrett as head coach. The defense should be the main area of concern for whoever is coaching the Cowboys next year. The Cowboys D gave up 16-third quarter points and allowed Rex Grossman to throw for over 300 yards."
ProFootballTalk.com: 19th (+3). "Unfortunately, they don’t give trophies to the best team with a losing record."
Fanhouse.com: 19th (+3). "In getting Grossman-ed, the Cowboys defense plummeted yet further from grace. The 2009 unit would be ashamed, except that it's mostly the same pieces. Who knew Jon Kitna would be picking up the slack."
SB Nation: 21st (n.c.). "The Cowboys got an ugly win against Washington. They (read: Jason Garrett) needs these late season wins."
3. Statistics, Computer & Vegas rankings
[updated] AdvancedNFLstats: 15th (+1). Offense ranked No. 5 (+1), defense ranked No. 27 (+1). This ranking model includes offensive and defensive passing and running efficiency, offensive turnover rates, defensive interception rates, and team penalty rates.
[updated] Betus.com: 18th (n.c.). "The Boys’ are ‘Jerry Springer’ dysfunctional. I’ll play for Jason Garrett, but not Wade Phillips!"
Covers.com: 21st (+3). "Dallas held off a strong comeback by the Redskins and is now 4-2 under Jason Garrett. The Cowboys travel to Arizona for a Christmas night dud that looked much more enticing early in the season."
Jeff Sagarin's NFL rankings: 22nd (+1). These are rankings based on W/L record, points differential and schedule strength.
[updated] FootballOutsiders.com: 23rd (+3). Offense ranked No. 19 (n.c.), Defense No. 28 (n.c.), Special Teams No. 12 (+2).
[updated] WhatIFsports: 25th (-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.
Below is how the NFC East fared in this week's power rankings, with the Cardinals added for good measure.