As the last regular season game of the 2012 season approaches, we turn our eyes one final time to the NFL power rankings. Not that they mean all that much anymore for the Dallas Cowboys, who'll make the postseason with a win on Sunday, regardless of where they are ranked in some power rankings.
With a win on Sunday, the Cowboys would host a wild-card game, and for a team that started out 3-5, that's a good place to be in:
"We are excited about it," coach Jason Garrett said. "You live for games like this. We have worked very hard to get to this point and it will be a great challenge for us going up to Washington. But we played 15 ball games and we’ve got a chance to go play for the NFC East crown on Sunday night, so we are awfully excited about the opportunity."
And now for one final look at how the football pundits have ranked the Cowboys in the last edition of our 2012 power rankings:
|Cowboys are ranked ahead of the Giants
Week 17 (previous rankings in parenthesis)
Newsday.com: 13th (9th). "Tony Romo does his part on offense, but Cowboys D can’t contain Drew Brees. Now it’s a winner-take-all deal against the Redskins. Cowboys hope they respond better than when they were in this exact predicament last year against the Giants."
Peter King: 13th. "Just like I thought: For the second year in a row, Dallas travels east Sunday night to play the NFC East championship game in the last regular season game of the season. Last year the Giants beat the 'Boys by 17. This year? Could be another nightmare scenario at Washington. One other thing: Don't blame Tony Romo. In December, he's 3-1 with a loss in overtime that wasn't his doing. This month, he's completed 66 percent of his passes, for an average of 332 yards a game, with 10 touchdown passes and one pick."
CBSSports.com: 13th (14th): "All Tony Romo has to do is beat the Redskins in Washington and people will stop ripping him. That's all."
ESPN: 14th (10th). Dan Graziano provides the blurb: "Tied with the Texans for the week's biggest drop, the Cowboys could likely climb back into the top 10 with a win in Washington and the division title that would go with it, or finish the season in the middle of the pack where they've been all year and likely belong. I dropped them from 10 to 13 in my poll, not because I think their loss was especially bad but because I thought the Ravens, Bengals and Vikings all needed to move up."
NFL.com's Elliott Harrison: 14th (13th). "This space has documented the sorry case of the depleted Dallas Cowboys defense several times now. Add DeMarcus Ware's shoulder to that tally. Yet, we can't let this blurb go by without pointing out Tony Romo's remarkable surge this season. How does this suit you: Over his last eight games, Romo has thrown 17 touchdown passes and three interceptions, while totaling 2,612 yards. That's 326.5 yards per game. He's almost singlehandedly keeping the team in games, with some help from Dez. "
Pro Football Weekly: 14th (12th). "Another big day for Dez, but defensive breakdowns cost them."
SB Nation: 14th (12th): "What a way to lose. Now, Dallas has to go to Washington in primetime next week for a do-or-die game against the Redskins. But Jason Garrett is not the problem, and neither is Rob Ryan, you guys."
reddit.com: 14th (14th). "Thanks to the Giant’s collapse, the loss to the Saints was irrelevant. Tony Romo’s insatiable desire to return to the playoffs and redeem himself has resulted in five weeks of masterful quarterback play unseen in Dallas since the nineties. Next week, with the NFC East title on the line, the collection of practice squad players called the Dallas Defense will try and contain RG3. Tony Romo will have an uphill battle from the beginning."
Oddsshark: 19th (14th). Oddsshark use a multitude of stats to establish an offensive and defensive power ranking, which they then adjust for the strength of schedule.
|C'mon, man! Cowboys are ranked behind the Gaints.
Covers.com: 13th (10th). "Marques Colston's OT fumble that Dallas couldn't recover will give every Cowboys fan nightmares, every bit as bad as Tony Romo's botched hold in Seattle back in January, 2007."
BeatGraphs.com: 14th (15th). BeatGraphs provide rankings where if team A has beaten team B [insert some math here] team A will be ranked above B.
Football Outsiders: 14th (16th). FO have the Cowboys with the 11th-ranked offense, the 23rd-ranked defense and the 19th-ranked special teams.
Advanced NFL Stats: 17th (16th). The Cowboys are ranked 13th on offense and 22nd on defense.
|Seriously? Cowboys are ranked last among all NFC playoff contenders, including the Giants, who are not even a contender.
Drafttek: 16th (15th). "Ahead by 2 TD's with under 4 minutes to play, the Saints D collapsed. New Orleans used a new version of the "Holy Roller", as Jimmy Graham recovered a fumble by Marcus Colston, to set up the game-winning FG by Garrett Hartley. Drew Brees was stellar, passing for 3 TD's and 400+ yards."
Sagarin NFL rankings: 16th (15th). These are rankings based on W/L record, points differential and schedule strength.
Teamrankings.com: 16th (11th). This site measures the relative strength of all teams using team performance, home/away status, margin of victory and other factors.
The table below summarizes the power rankings for the four remaining NFC playoff contenders. And just for fun, we've kept Mara's bunch in as well.