It seems like the best way to improve your fortunes in the NFC East power rankings is to do nothing: in this week's rankings, the Cowboys and Redskins both move up the ladder while the Giants tumble and the Eagles' fall is only cushioned by the eight other teams in the league with an equally bad or even worse record.
For the Cowboys, all eyes are looking forward to Sunday's matchup against the Patriots. The Patriots are the consensus number three pick in this week's power rankings while the Cowboys are ranked a middling 15th. If the Cowboys were to pull off an upset win against the seven-point favorites in Boston, would the headlines be about how the Cowboys got lucky and the Patriots had a bad day? Probably. Would the Patriots drop to 15th and the Cowboys move into the top five in next week's rankings? Probably not.
The summary of this week's power rankings after the break.
1. Major Media Networks & Affiliates
CBSSports.com: 12th (n.c.). "They come off the bye with a trip to New England. That should be fun if the good Tony Romo shows up. If bad Romo shows up, it could get ugly."
ESPN: 15th (+2). "The Cowboys don't exactly get the easiest rebound game out of their bye week. Up next: the 4-1 Patriots."
NFL.com's Brain Trust of Experts: 17th (+2). Gil Brandt likes the Cowboys in the 13th spot, four writers have the Cowboys ranked 19th, the rest are somewhere in between.
Sporting News: 17th (+2). "The Cowboys' defense is in for a big challenge against New England this week, and it will need Ware to be everywhere putting pressure on Brady."
Pro Football Weekly: 17th (-1). "A lot to sort out in terms of play-calling during bye week."
Fox Sports: 19th (-2). Brian Billick offers this assessment: "The bye week was a great opportunity for the Cowboys and, specifically, QB Tony Romo to overcome his second-half demise against the Lions in Week 4. Unfortunately for them, two weeks still won't provide them enough prep time for the New England Patriots."
2. Blogs & Other Media
Walter Football: 12th (+4). No comments this week, as the site only provides comments for the top ten and bottom ten teams. Walter Cherepinsky, who runs this site, is a Philadelphia native, and accordingly ranks the 1-4 Eagles (17th) ahead of the 3-1 Redskins (18th).
WEEI.com: 18th (n.c.). "The Cowboys’ bye week couldn’t have come at a better time. Not only can Tony Romo heal, the Cowboys have extra time to prepare for the Patriots and work on the silly mistakes that have hindered them this year. It will be interesting to see if the Cowboys can improve coming off the bye. They have a tremendous challenge ahead."
SB Nation: 18th (-2). "One week they're a top 10 team that closes out games and the next week they're a so-so team that can't close in the fourth quarter. We'll put them in the middle of the pack until they tell us which team they are."
ProFootballTalk.com: 19th (n.c.). "The late-game misfortunes of Houston’s quarterback has resulted in a nickname based on the Cowboys’ signal-caller: Schromo."
3. Statistics, Computer & Vegas rankings
Advanced NFL Stats: 1st (n.c.). Not included in the table below, because they don't usually publish until Wednesday, but they have the Cowboys ranked No. 1 on the strength of the second ranked offense and the fifth ranked defense.
WhatIFsports: 7th (+9). 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: 9th (+2). These are rankings based on W/L record, points differential and schedule strength.
Drafttek.com: 13th (+2). The Draft Gurus don't provide any comments and drop the Cowboys three spots.
Football Outsiders: 17th (n.c.). Also not included in the table below, because they also don't usually publish until Wednesday, FO have the Cowboys with the 19th ranked offense, the seventh ranked defense and the 29th ranked special teams.
Covers.com: 18th (-2). "Tony Romo managed to go an entire Sunday without throwing any interceptions. Unfortunately, that's because Dallas had its bye week." If you don't like clowns, avoid this site.
Below is how the NFC East fared in this week's power rankings, with the Patriots thrown in for good measure: