Check the NFL standings if you don't believe this: 15 teams are within two games of their division leaders after week 12. With five games left on the schedule, a lot can still happen in this topsy-turvy NFL season, and power rankings don't make all that much sense when two thirds of the teams still have (fairly) realistic playoff hopes.
This week, every NFC East team dropped in the rankings. The Eagles find themselves close to exiting the top ten again after being flavor of the week last week - such is the fickle nature of the 2010 season. The Giants win but drop a spot, the Redskins and Cowboys each lose and drop two spots.
[Note: 20 of 20 power rankings are now included.]
1. Major Media Networks & Affiliates
[updated] USAToday.com: 20th (n.c.).
SportingNews.com: 21st (-1). "They learned firsthand from the Saints what it takes to turn talent into a championship—never giving up despite past mistakes."
CBSSports.com: 22nd (-1). "Even though Jason Garrett lost for the first time as interim coach, the Cowboys still played well against the Saints. There is progress."
[updated] National Football Post: 23rd (-3). "Jason Garrett was close to winning his third straight, but the Cowboys—and Roy Williams—failed to close out the Saints."
Fox Sports: 25th (-4). "Yikes. That was a tough loss against the visiting Saints. But at least you can see the steady improvement the team has made since Jason Garrett has taken over as interim head coach. Now if they can just fix the defense. But Rome wasn't built in one day, either."
[updated] SI.com: 25th (-4). "Why is it that Roy Williams and about 78 percent of all ballcarriers these days refuse to believe anyone might be approaching from behind with the intent of stripping the ball away from them? I mean, it's only a move you see featured on SportsCenter highlights about 12 times a week, every week of the football season. Who knew?"
NFL.com's Brain Trust of Experts: 25th (-2). Pat Kirwan, a man who truly knows his stuff, ranks the Cowboys 17th.
ESPN: 26th (-2). "Roy Williams' fourth-quarter fumble, which cost the Cowboys a Thanksgiving Day game, will be the lasting memory of how this trade failed. (Clayton)"
2. Blogs & Other Media
SBNation.com: 26th (-2). "Really close loss to the Saints at home is cool. The fact that they're 3-8 is less cool. Bringing Romo back at any point this year would be idiotic."
Fanhouse.com: 23rd (-2). "Dallas nearly pulled off a major upset when they took the Saints to the wire in a 30-27 loss on Thanksgiving Day. There are a number of things going right in Dallas, even though that loss marred Jason Garrett's coaching record. The biggest of which is Jon Kitna's play since taking over for the injured Tony Romo."
Weii.com: 24th (-1). "Yes, the Cowboys lost their eighth game of the season. However, with three games under Jason Garrett’s belt, it’s easy to tell this is a different football team. After falling behind by 17 in the first quarter, the Cowboys refused to quit. They actually came back and took the lead. This team is playing harder and has a great chance to end the season on a positive note."
ProFootballWeekly: 25th (-1). "You would have sworn they were in contention with their effort."
ProFootballTalk.com: 26th (-3). "If Jerry Jones had changed coaches sooner, the Cowboys might still be alive."
[updated] ColdHardFootballFacts.com: 26th (-7). "The Cowboys average 30.7 PPG since Jason Garrett took over. But they’ve also surrendered an average of 338 passing yards. See, they miss Wade Phillips!"
3. Statistics, Computer & Vegas rankings
[updated] AdvancedNFLstats: 17th (n.c.). Offense ranked No. 7 (+1), defense ranked No. 27 (-3). This ranking model includes offensive and defensive passing and running efficiency, offensive turnover rates, defensive interception rates, and team penalty rates.
[updated] 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.
Jeff Sagarin's NFL rankings: 24th (n.c.). These are rankings based on W/L record, points differential and schedule strength.
Covers.com: 24th (n.c.). "Dallas nearly made it three straight wins but the Saints pulled off some late game magic on Turkey Day. They are at the Colts this week for a battle of two disappointments."
Betus.com: 25th (n.c.). "The only saving grace for Dallas is that they become a savvy cover team the rest of the way and they look extremely tempting given their next matchup... Next game: Dallas vs. Indianapolis -5.0"
[updated] FootballOutsiders.com: 28th (-3). Offense ranked No. 20 (n.c.), Defense No. 29 (-1), Special Teams No. 12 (n.c.).
Below is how the NFC East fared and how the pundits see the Colts, our next opponent.
In terms of draft picks, the Cowboys are currently tied with the Broncos for the 6th pick: Both have a 3-8 record and a .523 opponent W/L record. If both teams had the same record at the end of the season and division and/or conference records as well as the SOS were also identical, a coin flip during the combine would determine the draft order.