[Ed. Note] We are aware of the events that happened at the Star this morning. We recognize the seriousness of the situation and want everyone to know that it is in our thoughts. It’s hard to know the right thing to do at the moment, but we are going to continue posting coverage of the Cowboys while we wait for more information. Hopefully everyone understands. [End Note]
Life is much better this week for the Dallas Cowboys on the field than it has been in some time, winning has that sort of impact on a football team.
Whether or not the Cowboys are able to bottle even more of this good energy with a second straight victory on Thanksgiving Day remains to be seen, but the reality is that they are squarely in the mix for the NFC East title and what happens while the world is breaking bread will go a long way at deciding who gets the coveted caps and t-shirts for it.
As you can imagine, national perception is higher on the Cowboys this week than it was last. We have put together our own power rankings of all NFL teams at Thanksgiving Week as well as corralled where major outlets are putting America’s Team.
You can view last week’s right here.
1 - Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 1)
Obviously they are not the league’s last undefeated team, but they are clearly the best. Somehow their offense looks even better this season. They are heavy favorites to repeat.
2 - Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 2)
It does feel like they are due for a loss, but it’s hard to know exactly when that will come.
3 - Seattle Seahawks (LW: 7)
They played earlier in the week, but the NFC West looks like it is going to belong to them.
4 - New Orleans Saints (LW: 5)
Sean Payton is the pettiest head coach in the NFL and it is awesome to see. What a statement win.
5 - Indianapolis Colts (LW: 9)
All of the shout outs to Matt Eberflus. Don’t sleep on Indy for the AFC South title.
6 - Green Bay Packers (LW: 3)
Losing happens. I wouldn’t panic on Green Bay just yet.
7 - Los Angeles Rams (LW: 10)
That was a big win in front of the whole world against a team many thought would be a serious contender this year. The NFC West is wild.
8 - Arizona Cardinals (LW: 4)
They will be back, but they are clearly not invincible.
9 - Buffalo Bills (LW: 6)
Welcome back from the bye, Bills.
10 - Las Vegas Raiders (LW: 12)
It is rare to climb after a loss, but the Raiders looked stellar against Kansas City. They are without question a playoff-caliber team.
11 - Tennessee Titans (LW: 13)
They have Baltimore’s number and it shows. They make every game entertaining.
12 - Cleveland Browns (LW: 15)
It appears as if all of the hype around Cleveland is finally going to materialize in a playoff berth.
13 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 8)
Tom Brady looked as washed as he’s ever been on Monday night. How Tampa Bay’s season unfolds will be interesting to say the least.
14 - Carolina Panthers (LW: 17)
There are too many candidates for him to win, but Matt Rhule deserves some Coach of the Year praise. How about the job that he did with a backup quarterback?
15 - Miami Dolphins (LW: 11)
This was such a weird loss. Sometimes the magic runs dry in spells.
16 - Baltimore Ravens (LW: 14)
It feels like concern is warranted. The Ravens are dealing with a lot and it won’t get easier on Thanksgiving night against the Steelers.
17 - Los Angeles Chargers (LW: 20)
Congratulations to Justin Herbert for balling out after everyone’s comments about his haircut.
18 - Washington Football Team (LW: 30)
I’ll admit that this ranking feels way too high for them, but it’s hard to talk yourself into any of the other squads below legitimately being better from an all-around perspective right now. I expect them to dwindle, so they should enjoy their spot.
19 - Dallas Cowboys (LW: 29)
Speaking of, so should the Cowboys. The NFC East might be decided on Thursday afternoon at AT&T Stadium.
20 - Minnesota Vikings (LW: 16)
They are too good to lose to the Dallas Cowboys. But sometimes a team smashes watermelons and becomes impossible to defeat.
21 - Houston Texans (LW: 27)
A win is a win, but I’m still not buying them.
22 - New England Patriots (LW: 18)
It’s been a rough ride for Bill Belichick and Co. this year.
23 - Denver Broncos (LW: 25)
24 - Atlanta Falcons (LW: 19)
Goodness. They always find a way to be more disappointing. Every week. It never fails.
25 - San Francisco 49ers (LW: 23)
The bye week may have given Kyle Shanahan time to figure things out, but they still have a lot to overcome due to injuries.
26 - New York Giants (LW: 24)
The Giants are the only NFC East team to not have a win outside of the division. Can that change on Sunday against Cincinnati?
27 - Chicago Bears (LW: 26)
What a weird organization.
28 - Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 22)
All the best to Joe Burrow. Unfortunately without him they aren’t much. That is of course significant because they have yet to play both the Giants and Cowboys.
29 - Detroit Lions (LW: 21)
Honestly, what a disaster of a season. No hope. No promise. Just mediocrity.
30 - Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 28)
31 - Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 31)
The same as it ever was.
32 - New York Jets (LW: 32)
Being mathematically eliminated before Thanksgiving Day can’t feel great!
NFL.com: 25 (LW: 30)
The rise has begun!
For the first time since Dak Prescott’s injury, the Cowboys look like a functioning unit on offense. Andy Dalton returned after a two-game absence (concussion, COVID-19 list) and threw three touchdown passes, while Ezekiel Elliott finally delivered his first 100-yard game on the ground this season in a 31-28 win over the Vikings. The return of a healthy Dalton is like bringing a grown-up back to the quarterback room, and the results on Sunday feel like something that can be sustainable rather than a flash of light in a season of darkness. Beat Washington on Thanksgiving and Dallas could find itself atop the NFC East by the end of Week 12. Weird year, man.
ESPN: 28 (LW: 30)
The worldwide leader listed something that each team was thankful for. The answer is obvious for the Cowboys.
What they’re thankful for: The NFC East
How can it be anything other than the NFC East? If not for the division, the final six games would be about draft positioning. At 3-7, the Cowboys have as many wins as anybody in the division. They’re in it, whatever that actually means. But if you’re looking for something different, go with rookie receiver CeeDee Lamb. He holds the team’s rookie record for catches in a season and has shown he can be a cornerstone piece for the future. — Todd Archer
USA Today: 28 (LW: 31)
Not a ton of movement nationally for the Cowboys.
Dallas has had some pretty nifty receivers through the decades. But WR CeeDee Lamb’s 48 catches are already tops for any Cowboys rookie ... though crazy to ponder campaign he could have had if QB Dak Prescott hadn’t gone down.
Sporting News: 27 (LW: 30)
The Cowboys got the performance they expected from Andy Dalton filling in for Dak Prescott in Minnesota. The bye was very helpful for their offense to be more balanced and explosive and their defense to be more active and passionate. Don’t sleep on them taking back the East.
Yahoo: 29 (LW: 31)
Progress is progress!
You’ll hear a lot about whether it’s better to win a bad division or lose and get a better draft pick. Unless you’re talking about the top pick or two, the answer is always a division title. Even if you’re winning a dreadful division, it’s still an accomplishment to make the playoffs. And the Cowboys can still win a division and host a playoff game.
CBS Sports: 28 (LW: 29)
Everyone has the Cowboys right about the same.
That was a different offensive team with Andy Dalton against the Vikings. Now their game with Washington on Thanksgiving is a big one if you can believe that.
Sports Illustrated: 27 (LW: 27)
Same, same, same.
The defense is rounding into form under Mike Nolan, with back-to-back solid outings. And the performance the Cowboys got on Sunday in Minnesota is what they had in mind when they signed Andy Dalton—they hung around long enough to take advantage of mistakes and were able to muster a late drive to close it out. After all this, they’re a half-game out of first in the NFC East with three division games left.