NFL Power Rankings Week 12: NFC Playoff Contenders

Bryant with his sixth TD of the season.

Sunday's win means the Cowboys are back in the saddle and riding high once again. If the season were to end today, the Cowboys would be in the playoffs as the NFC East winner.

And even though there are six games left to play, today we'll take a look at the playoff picture via the various power rankings out there to understand which NFC playoff contenders are the flavor of the week, and which aren't.

It looks like the Packers, 49ers and Saints will win their divisions, so we'll leave them out of the picture for now. Instead, we'll look at the Cowboys and Giants, who are in a battle for the NFC East crown, as well as the Lions, Bears, Falcons and Eagles. We include the Eagles, because just like in any bad movie, they're not really dead until somebody drives a stake through their heart. We also leave the Cutler-less Bears in because while they are dead, nobody has realized it yet.

Cowboys safety Abram Elam said yesterday that there's no use focusing on the standings at this point: "We can't control the standings. They'll probably be different next week, so what can we do about that? It's been changing all year. If you focus on that, you'll be left behind." Yeah, but we can speculate.

The summary of this week's power rankings after the break.

The Cowboys Are The Shizzness

Oddsshark: 3rd (3rd). Oddshark use a multitude of stats to establish an offensive and defensive power ranking, which they then adjust for the remaining strength of schedule.

[update] Advanced NFL Stats: 4th (4th). The Cowboys stay put overall, as does the offense in fourth, while the defense drops three spots to fourteenth.

WhatIFsports: 4th (4th). 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.

[update] National Football Post: 7th (10th). "After two straight Giants’ losses, can we call Romo and the Cowboys the favorites in the NFC East?"

Walter Football: 8th (9th). Cowboys move up a spot. I'll spare you the jibber jabber that passes as Cowboys commentary there.

Hey, we lead the division. Of course we're ranked higher than at least two out of the Bears/Lions/Falcons trio

ESPN: 9th (12th). "As maddening as he can be sometimes, Tony Romo is 18-2 in November in six years as the Cowboys' starter. " ESPN's NFC East blogger Dan Graziano added this take on the Cowboys:

"The Cowboys started the season ranked 14th, fell as low as 21st at one point, and now find themselves in the top 10 after three straight wins. With games coming up against the 3-7 Dolphins and the 3-7 Cardinals, and with the two teams in front of them having lost their starting quarterbacks in the past two weeks, the Cowboys have the opportunity to keep moving up -- as long as they can keep winning."

Covers.com: 9th (13th). "Big time week for the Cowboys. They beat Washington after being inches from losing and the Giants lost to set up a division tie."

At least we're ahead of the Giants

Sporting News: 10th (11th). "It's been a season of rejuvenation for Newman, who at 33 seems like he's healthy for the first time in a while. He's been excellent over the past month."

SB Nation: 10th (12th). "Impressive turnaround for the Cowboys. They were 2-3 at one point but now hold a share of the NFC East lead."

Fox Sports: 10th (14th). Brian Billick: "There is a gentleman on Twitter, @Vance14, that reminds me every week that the Cowboys will be among the best teams in the NFL by season's end. Well, they finally find their way into the top 10 and with their next two games being against the Dolphins and Cardinals, he may be right. Problem is, they finish the season with three of their last four against divisional rivals in the Giants (twice) and hosting Philly, who will be happy to spoil their playoff hopes." @Vance14 is teaching Billick to Fear The Star.

CBSsports.com: 11th (12th). "Tony Romo owns November, going 18-2 in the month in his career. The Miami game on Turkey Day suddenly looks a lot tougher the way the Dolphins are playing."

Sagarin NFL rankings: 11th (11th). These are rankings based on W/L record, points differential and schedule strength. Cowboys jump ahead of the Gaints on the strength of the Buffalo Beatdown.

Teamrankings.com: 12th (13th). This site measures the relative strength of all teams using team performance, home/away status, margin of victory and other factors.

Coolstandings.com: 11th (13th). These guy use the Pythagorean Theorem to calculate their power rankings.

C'mon Man! (the We're Not Even Ahead Of The Giants section)

ProFootballWeekly: 11th (12th). "Games vs. rival Redskins are never easy."

WEEI.com: 11th (12th). "The Cowboys are undefeated in the month of November. Tony Romo and the offense have found a rhythm. The balanced attack of run and pass is making the offense difficult to defend against. Defensively, the Cowboys have shown signs of improvement. The run defense allowed just 2.5 yards per carry to the Redskins after being scorched by Fred Jackson last week for 8.8 yards per carry."

ProFootballTalk.com: 11th (12th). "The Cowboy won’t be under the radar for much longer."

[update] Football Outsiders: 12th (10th). FO have the Cowboys with the 8th-ranked offense (+2), the 12th-ranked defense (-2) and the 25th ranked special teams (-6).

NFL.com's Brain Trust of Experts: 13th (12th). Charles Davis ranks the Cowboys highest (9th), Pat Kirwan lowest (15th).

Star_medium

Below is how the three remaining contending NFC East teams fared in this week's power rankings - and with that I've unceremoniously dumped the Redskins from the table. For good measure, I've added the other NFC teams who are direct competitors for a playoff spot at this point in time.


Dal_medium
Phi_medium
Nyg_medium
Det Chi Atl

Week 12 Week 11
Week 12
Week 11 Week 12
Week 11 Week 12
Week 12 Week 12
NFP 7 10 17 19 11 6 9 8 14
Walter Football 8 9 17 23 7 7 11 10 13
ESPN 9 12 18 22 12 7 10 7 11
Covers.com 9 13 16 19 11 7 10 8 12
Sportingnews 10 11 18 19 12 7 9 8 11
SBNation 10 12 19 22 12 10 9 8 15
Foxsports 10 14 17 20 14 8 9 7 11
CBSSports.com 11 12 15 21 12 8 9 8 10
Pro Football Talk 11 12 18 24 10 6 8 7 13
WEEI 11 12 16 19 10 8 9 8 6
Pro Football Weekly 11 12 18 21 10 7 9 8 12
NFL.com 13 12 17 19 10 8 9 8 11
Drafttek - - 12 - - 20 - - 9 - - - - - -
Avg. Opinion-based 10.0 11.8 17.1 20.6 10.9 7.5 9.2 7.9 11.5
Oddsshark 3 3 4 5 18 16 11 14 6
Whatifsports 4 4 10 12 8 10 11 17 13
AdvancedNFLStats.com 4 4 7 8 8 7 9 11 15
Sagarin Ratings 11 11 14 17 16 15 4 3 10
Coolstandings 11 13 19 20 14 12 9 8 10
Football Outsiders 12 10 14 15 8 8 13 6 10
Team Rankings 12 13 16 22 15 11 6 3 10
Avg. Stat-based 8.1 8.3 12 14.1 12.4 11.3 9.0 8.8 10.5
Total Average 9.3
10.6 15.3
18.4 11.5
8.9 9.2
8.3 11.2

The missing rankings will be updated as they become available

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