As the NFL enters Week 12, there are 19 teams within one game of first place in their divisions, the most at this point of a season in NFL history. Unfortunately, the Dallas Cowboys are not one of those teams.
But in the power rankings table, the Cowboys are closing in on those top 19 teams, as they jump to a combined power ranking spot of 23rd, three spots up from a week ago. Nine published power rankings even have the Cowboys 21st or higher. Go figure.
The Giants meanwhile are just barely hanging on to their top ten rank, while the Eagles have entered the top five for the first time this season and the Redskins remain four spots ahead of the Cowboys.
[Note: 20 of 20 power rankings are now included after the break.]
1. Major Media Networks & Affiliates
SportingNews.com: 20th (+3). "The Cowboys should be thankful for having such a solid backup QB in Jon Kitna—and a determined starter in Tony Romo."
USAToday.com: 20th (+7).
CBSSports.com: 21st (+3). "Jason Garrett is doing his best to make Jerry Jones hire him on a full-time basis. They certainly are playing better."
[updated] SI.com: 21st (+4). "Let the Cowboys pull the upset against the Saints on Thanksgiving afternoon and Jason Garrett's chances of winning the fulltime gig in Dallas will soar. The Cowboys are playing with discipline and some level of confidence for the first time all season, and that has to reflect well on Garrett. Last December, Dallas went to New Orleans and ended the Saints' 13-0 perfect season. But can 38-year-old Jon Kitna keep this up and actually out-duel Drew Brees?"
Fox Sports: 21st (+5). "Interim head coach Jason Garrett is off to a nice start at 2-0. You can see how the players have responded since the coaching change. The discipline on both sides of the ball has really improved, but reality could set in against the visiting Saints."
NFL.com's Brain Trust of Experts: 23rd (+3).
ESPN: 24th (+5). "Jon Kitna is starting to get into a rhythm as a QB and a leader filling in for Tony Romo. (Clayton) "
2. Blogs & Other Media
[updated] ColdHardFootballFacts.com: 19th (+10). "Jason Garrett still has the best winning percentage of any head coach in NFL history."
Fanhouse.com: 21st (+7). "Who would have thought Wade Phillips was the problem? Jerry Jones, see how you were the only person to not raise your hand? The Cowboys' defense has reeled off their two best performances since Week 3 back-to-back, and Dez Bryant looks like he'll be an elite receiver for a long time."
ProFootballTalk.com: 23rd (+2). "The only way the Cowboys will "run the table" is if they move their treadmills to the kitchen."
Weii.com: 23rd (+4). "Finally. Eleven weeks into the season, the Cowboys have won a game at home. Cowboys players obviously are responding to interim coach Jason Garrett’s "no-nonsense" approach in a positive way."
ProFootballWeekly: 24th (+5). "Jason Garrett needs a few more wins to earn job for good."
SBNation.com: 24th (+3). "OK, now, two in a row isn't bad. The Jason Garrett era is off to the right start. The next three games will show us if the Garrett era has a chance of lasting: Saints, at Colts, Eagles. That stretch will show us how good or how bad this team really is."
3. Statistics, Computer & Vegas rankings
AdvancedNFLstats: 17th (+2). Offense ranked No. 8 (-2), defense ranked No. 24 (+2). This ranking model includes offensive and defensive passing and running efficiency, offensive turnover rates, defensive interception rates, and team penalty rates.
Jeff Sagarin's NFL rankings: 24th (+5). These are rankings based on W/L record, points differential and schedule strength.
Covers.com: 24th (+6). "Dallas' season may be done but they are at least showing some heart. The Cowboys were outgained against the Lions but they bring in a 4-0 SU and ATS T-Day run to face the Saints."
FootballOutsiders.com: 25th (+2). Offense ranked No. 20 (n.c.), Defense No. 28 (-1), Special Teams No. 12 (+14).
Betus.com: 25th (+3). "This is actually the worst case scenario for Tony Romo. The team is winning without him and Wade Phillips. What happens if he comes back and they slump back in to a losing streak? I’m not saying Kitna is the answer, but that could mean an end to the 31-year old Romo in Dallas."
WhatIFsports: 25th (-1). 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 and how the pundits see the Saints, our next opponent.