Just as we thought week 13 would provide a little more clarity in the NFC playoff race, all wild-card contenders lost their games. Four teams are now at 7-5 (Dallas, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago) and the 6-6 New York Giants are just a game behind. What a mess.
How do you rank these teams now? Do you go by which team suffered the worst loss? By which team played the worst or disappointed the most?
Whatever the preferred method, the pigskin prognosticators across the nation have once again thrown out some power rankings for your reading pleasure, and after the break we look at how the Cowboys held up against the Falcons, Lions, Bears and Giants in the race for the NFC playoffs.
|Cowboys ranked first ahead of Falcons, Lions, Bears and Giants|
WhatIFsports: 6th (5th). 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.
Oddsshark: 6th (8th). Oddshark use a multitude of stats to establish an offensive and defensive power ranking, which they then adjust for the remaining strength of schedule. I would love to know exactly which stats they are using that allow them to rank the 4-8 Eagles as the fifth best team in the league.
ProFootballTalk.com: 8th (8th). "Maybe next week Jason Garrett will call for a punt block. While his team is trying to punt."
Coolstandings.com: 8th (10th). These guy use Bill James' modified Pythagorean theorem to calculate their power rankings.
National Football Post: 9th (7th). "The NFC East elimination process starts on Sunday night when the ‘Boys host the Giants."
ProFootballWeekly: 9th (8th). "Strange late-game decisions vs. Arizona left door open for the Giants."
Sporting News: 9th (8th). "Breakout star: RB DeMarco Murray. Dallas must go back to giving a heavy load to and getting more production out of its talented rookie runner. The Giants' struggling run defense provides a great opportunity."
Cowboys ranked second behind Atlanta
ESPN: 9th (8th). "The overtime loss to Arizona could haunt the Cowboys through the offseason. Horrible late-game decisions kept the door open for the Giants in the division." ESPN's NFC East blogger Dan Graziano added this take on the Cowboys:
Only a one-spot drop for the Cowboys off an overtime road loss in Arizona, though they have the New York Jets and the Denver Tebows breathing down their necks. As I've said before, I see no reason to insist that this division boasts one of the top 10 teams in the league. I think Dallas could be that, but they'll have to play better than they've played so far. And the No. 11 and 12 teams in this week's poll have the same record the Cowboys had and beat them head-to-head. I believe the Cowboys are lucky to be ranked as high as they are.
CBSsports.com: 9th (9th). "Blowing a game at Arizona won't mean much if they beat the Giants in their final four games. But it does say something about consistency."
Drafttek.com: 9th (9th). No comments from the draft gurus.
WEEI.com: 10th (8th). "That was just a crippling loss in a game that the Cowboys had to win. Dallas failed at taking advantage of a huge opportunity of gaining a two-game lead in the NFC East over the Giants. Many can be blamed. Jason Garrett and the coaching staff have to do a better job with time management. They were unprepared and confused on the sideline in a very key moment of the game. The offensive line had Tony Romo scrambling for his life. And lastly, poor execution, tackling, and penalties on defense hurt the team."
SB Nation: 10th (8th). "The Cowboys had a chance to take a commanding two-game division lead but Jason Garrett and the timeout fiasco prevented that from happening. You gotta beat a 4-7 team in Week 13 when you're leading your division. You just have to."
Covers.com: 10th (8th). "Dallas had the game won until Jason Garrett iced his own kicker. Brutal loss, but at least the Giants also took one in the L column."
NFL.com's Brain Trust of Experts: 12th (11th). Elliot Hanson provides the comments: "The Cowboys are the only team that believes in icing their own kicker. I would love to drop Dallas for that loss, but it gets saved due to every other team around it losing, too."
Cowboys ranked third behind Atlanta and Detroit
Fox Sports: 15th (9th). Brian Billick, not a Cowboys fan. "The Cowboys were what we have come to expect from them this season. A team loaded with talent that just can't put together a streak of solid performances, but this loss has to be tough to swallow in Big D. The Cowboys could have survived another close game, but with horrible clock management and a strange timeout, they continue their season of peaks and valleys."
Teamrankings.com: 16th (14th). This site measures the relative strength of all teams using team performance, home/away status, margin of victory and other factors.
Cowboys ranked fourth behind everyone but the Giants
Sagarin NFL rankings: 14th (10th). These are rankings based on W/L record, points differential and schedule strength.
WTF? Cowboys are ranked behind the Giants?
Advanced NFL Stats: 8th (6th). The switch places with the Giants and drop two spots. Offense is down one to sixth, defense stays put in seventeenth.
Walter Football: 11th (8th). The Cowboys drop out of Walter's top 10, which is a merciful relief, as the site doesn't comment on teams not ranked in the top ten.
Football Outsiders: 14th (13th). FO have the Cowboys with the 11th-ranked offense (-2), the 14th-ranked defense (-3) and the 23rd ranked special teams (+2).
Below is how the remaining NFC playoff contenders fared in this week's power rankings - with the Eagles left in, just because.
For those who're interested, the Redskins rank 26.1 overall, 26.8 opinion-based and 24.7 stat-based.