Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
With the division title up for grabs in the NFC East, and two wildcard spots left, which of the six remaining contenders have the best chance at postseason spots?
With just two games left to play, there really isn't much point to these power rankings anymore. Teams either make the postseason or they don't, where they rank on a power rankings list is largely irrelevant.
Of course, some would argue that this has been the case with all power rankings since Week 1. Be that as it may, today we take a look at how the football pundits have sorted the five NFC teams with an 8-6 record.
Week 16 (previous rankings in parenthesis)
Newsday.com: 9th (14th). "A second straight Tony Romo comeback against an AFC North opponent – this one with an assist to Brandon Carr on an OT interception – and the Cowboys are in the thick of the divisional and wild card races."
ESPN: 10th (13th). Dan Graziano does the honors: "Also surging into the top 10 are the Cowboys, who just won two straight against a pair of AFC North teams that went 6-0 against the rest of the division this year. Dallas has won five of six overall, and it appears likely they'll get a chance at the division title in Week 17 in Washington. They haven't ranked this high since Week 2, when they were No. 10 after beating the Giants in their season opener. I have them at 10, up three spots from where I had them last week. Mike and Jamison each ranked them No. 9. Ashley has them at 12 and John has them at 13. "
NFL.com expert rankings: 11th (14th). Elliott Harrison ranks the Cowboys 13th and provides the blurb: "The Dallas Cowboys lose everybody on defense ... and beat another team with a winning record. Once again, Dallas played without half its starting defense and still held its opponent in check. In the last two games, the most depleted defense in pro football has allowed only 43 points to Andy Dalton and Ben Roethlisberger -- no small feat with a bunch of spares getting way too much playing time. DeMarco Murray isn't gaining big yards, but he's picked up some big first downs and touchdowns since coming back."
Shutdown Corner: 12th (13th). "A three-game winning streak, and wins in five of their last six games, has the Cowboys in control of their own playoff destiny. A loss to the Saints on Sunday could knock the Cowboys out of playoff contention, which would be a threat to Jason Garrett's job security."
Pro Football Weekly: 12th (13th). "Offense is rolling with DeMarco Murray back and healthy."
SB Nation: 12th (13th): "It seems right to have all three of the top NFC East teams clustered together. The Cowboys aren't noticeably better or worse than the Giants or Redskins. This is coming down to Week 17."
WEEI.com: 12th (14th). "Dallas has won five of its last six and continues to keep the season alive. A lot of credit has to go to both the players and coaches for being able to stay in the playoff race. The Cowboys have had to endure a plethora of injuries but what’s even more impressive is the way they have found a way to win late in games. Their last four victories have been decided in the fourth quarter or overtime."
Fox Sports: 13th (13th). "Tony Romo had his eighth 300-yard passing game on Sunday and won his third straight game in December, a month in which he has historically struggled."
CBSsports.com: 14th (12th). "That was an impressive victory over the Steelers, a have-to in fact. Now they have to keep it rolling in the Sean Payton Bowl to have a chance to be a playoff team."
Drafttek: 15th (16th)."Whew! An OT win over the Steelers is good any time but with 7 defensive starters out, it could be considered miraculous. Romo was his Houdini best, Murray added ground game . . . but if they don't beat the Saints next week, it will be time to plan for the draft."
Teamrankings.com: 11th (13th). This site measures the relative strength of all teams using team performance, home/away status, margin of victory and other factors.
Oddsshark: 14th (14th). Oddsshark use a multitude of stats to establish an offensive and defensive power ranking, which they then adjust for the strength of schedule.
Sagarin NFL rankings: 15th (14th). These are rankings based on W/L record, points differential and schedule strength.
BeatGraphs.com: 15th (9th). BeatGraphs provide rankings where if team A has beaten team B [insert some math here] team A will be ranked above B.
WhatIFsports: 16th (23rd). 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.
The table below summarizes the power rankings for the six teams in contention for the NFC wildcard spots.