Power rankings don't serve much of a purpose beyond being a mid-week talking point. They have no bearing on the outcome of games, they don't influence the final standings, and they play no role in the draft order.
But that doesn't mean they are necessarily useless. Most power rankings are loosely based on each team's W/L record, some are based on some kind of algorithm, others yet again are based on some funky thought process only the power ranking's author knows.
Combined, these power rankings provide a snapshot of the publicly perceived quality of each team, a snapshot that everybody is free to take umbrage with.
In this week's rankings, the Cowboys slip back inside the Top 10. You'll find Cowboys fans that think that is too low, just as you'll find Cowboys fans that think it's too high.
If you're more positively inclined, you might follow Ezekiel Elliott's lead and argue that “we're two two-minute drives away from being a 5-1 team. “
If you're less positively inclined, you might like to point out that the Cowboys' three wins have come against teams with a 4-17 combined W/L record in 2017.
On to this week's power rankings.
ESPN - No. 5 (LW: 12)
12.5 percent. The Eagles are making it difficult for everyone else in the NFC East right now, but Dallas still has two games in hand against them and five total division games left. The Cowboys' 12.5 percent chance of winning the division might seem low, but it could look much different in a few weeks.
Chicago Tribune - No. 8 (LW: 10)
Temporary restraining order has kept Ezekiel Elliott in the lineup, and that’s been a big benefit.
Sagarin Rating - No. 9 (LW: 11)
These are rankings based on W/L record, points differential and schedule strength.
SI.com - No. 9 (LW: 12)
No comments provided.
Yahoo - No. 10 (LW: 14)
Let’s say Ezekiel Elliott hangs around for all 16 games this season. Maybe Sunday was just one game against a bad 49ers team and not a sign of things to come. But it was really impressive, and Elliott finally played like he did last season. It’s definitely not too late for the Cowboys to start their run, and the win against the 49ers made it look like that might be happening. Of course, the sunny outlook all changes if Elliott has to start serving his suspension.
NFL.com - No. 12 (LW: 18)
Not sure where that Cowboys offense came from against the 49ers, but my guess is straight out of last year. For the first time all season, the Dallas offensive line played like, well, the Dallas offensive line. Dak Prescott flexed his mobility, while Ezekiel Elliott's touchdown on a screen pass screamed 2016, at Pittsburgh. Jason Witten made a play straight out of 2007, justifying every announcer calling him a future Hall of Famer on literally every game broadcast. Then there was Sean Lee, back in the lineup for the Cowboys, where his presence is palpable. One of my favorite follows pointed out Lee's value rather astutely ... and stats-ily.
Washington Post - No. 14 (LW: 24)
RB Ezekiel Elliott remains eligible to play against the Redskins on Sunday at FedEx Field. But the ongoing courtroom maneuvering in his case could result in his suspension being enforced at any point, so the Cowboys had better take advantage of Elliott’s presence while he’s available.
NFC East Power Rankings Summary