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2021 NFL Week 12 power rankings: Arizona Cardinals back on top, Dallas Cowboys out of top five

This weird NFL season continues to stay weird.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

We have reached the week of Thanksgiving and this NFL season continues to surprise us on almost a week to week, sometimes day to day, basis.

Each contending team has a loss that proves why they can’t win the Super Bowl and the Wildcard spots appear open to just about every team.

Things are going to continue to be ridiculous in all likelihood which means we need to buckle up and get ready for some fireworks (hopefully just some boring wins as far as the Cowboys are concerned) down the stretch.

As always we have put together our rankings of how the NFL looks at the present moment and curated where people around the media see the Cowboys.

You can visit our rankings from last week right here.


1 - Arizona Cardinals (LW: 4)

They have jump-roped around this spot for a majority of this season. While the Seahawks aren’t exactly a force these days, they have managed to win more games than not without Kyler Murray and look to be in prime position with December lurking.

2 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 6)

Every contending team in the NFL has had a weird game or two at some point this season. Tampa managed to hold on this week and stay above water. Unfortunately they passed the Cowboys for the three seed in the NFC at the moment.

3 - New England Patriots (LW: 7)

How did the world let the Patriots only have to endure one “down” year before finding another quarterback that would stabilize their team? New England looks great.

4 - Green Bay Packers (LW: 2)

They almost pulled it off at the very end, but the Packers losing to the Vikings was a tough blow for them. What’s more is it seems that Aaron Rodgers’ toe situation is going to linger.

5 - Baltimore Ravens (LW: 9)

It is always impressive to win without your starting quarterback. The Ravens continue to find a way in the face of adversity.

6 - Dallas Cowboys (LW: 3)

Hopefully the panic that immediately set in on Sunday has subsided a bit. Thursday will be here before we know it. This is still a good football team.

7 - Tennessee Titans (LW: 1)

Every contender this season has had a weird loss as mentioned, but the Titans have two. It’s hard to know who they are at the moment which is the case for a lot of top teams.

8 - Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 8)

There is no movement from the Chiefs in our rankings this week because, well, while they beat an awful Cowboys performance they didn’t exactly do so with authority. Yes, Kansas City’s defense appears to not be terrible anymore; however, offensively they were not impressive and the Raiders performance from two weeks ago appears like an outlier. People will make a big deal about them being “back”, but it is truly yet to be seen. Kudos on the win, though.

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9 - Los Angeles Rams (LW: 10)

No game which means no real thoughts. They visit the Packers this week which will be important for the NFC Playoff Picture. We are rooting for them.

10 - Indianapolis Colts (LW: 12)

What the Colts did to Buffalo was certainly impressive but we all want to know how sustainable it is. Jonathan Taylor is remarkable, but banking on running the ball in today’s NFL is risky. As long as they keep winning we will be happy given that Philadelphia likely owns the Colts’ first-round pick in 2022.

11 - Minnesota Vikings (LW: 15)

Speaking of teams we are rooting for, how about those Minnesota Vikings?! Kirk Cousins is so much better than the average person is willing to admit and has gotten his team in position to win more often than not when asked to this season. The Vikings are interesting.

12 - Los Angeles Chargers (LW: 13)

Sunday night was an impressive victory, but LA almost Charger’d it away. This team has broken trust too many times this season to just catapult them too far up. Show us some more. We want to see it.

13 - Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 14)

If there is such thing as a morale loss then the Steelers had it on Sunday night. Their season has been so up and down but this past week showed signs that their offense isn’t gone forever. They are getting sort of right at the perfect time.

14 - Buffalo Bills (LW: 5)

I’ve been such a big believer in the Bills so this is a tough time for that take. Dropping them this far is not an overreaction when you consider that over their past four games they have struggled to beat the Dolphins, lost to the Jaguars, beat the Jets (super difficult!), and were embarrassed by Indy. They let New England back in this thing.

15 - Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 19)

They are on the way back, but we need to see more to fully trust Cincinnati.

16 - Cleveland Browns (LW: 11)

It is difficult to win and drop in power rankings let alone to drop five spots, but the vibes are so bad with Cleveland right now. It took way more effort than it should have to beat Detroit and everything with them feels so clunky. They aren’t going back to the playoffs.

17 - Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 21)

Dropping 40 points on any team in the NFL is impressive and the Eagles are firmly in the mix for a Wildcard spot in the NFC. Remember when some Cowboys fans were wanting them to beat Tampa Bay a month or so ago? If they had they’d be one win back of Dallas.

18 - San Francisco 49ers (LW: 20)

As mentioned if you drop a hammer on the NFL it merits applause regardless of who it came against; however, the Jaguars are awful. As true as that is though the 49ers are getting right and have a huge game against Minnesota this week to decide who they really are this season.

19 - Las Vegas Raiders (LW: 16)

It appears as if they have mailed it in on this season. We’ll see them on Thanksgiving.

20 - Washington Football Team (LW: 23)

Just like the Eagles, Washington is in the mix for a Wildcard in the NFC (whoever gets that third spot isn’t exactly going to be great). The win over Tampa Bay was impressive but in a different sense so was the one in Carolina. I’ll go on record and say that they beat a flag-waving Seahawks team next Monday night, too.

21 - Carolina Panthers (LW: 17)

Any time that anybody wants to even slightly believe in the Panthers they lose a game. The Cam Newton story is fun, but the wins just aren’t there. They’ll beat Miami this week and rope some people back in, but this is a .500 football team.

22 - Seattle Seahawks (LW: 18)

We’ve mentioned that the Raiders have given up this season, but that organization has obviously been through a lot this year. The Seahawks have truly given up.

23 - New Orleans Saints (LW: 22)

They made the end of their game in Philadelphia interesting, but it’s hard to know who they really hard. Who would have thought they would have missed Jameis Winston so much that they handed out a questionable contract to Taysom Hill?!

24 - New York Giants (LW: 24)

The G-Men hung with Tampa Bay for a bit, but at the end of the day they are the worst team in the NFC East and it isn’t exactly a close competition.

25 - Miami Dolphins (LW: 28)

A win is a win, but a win over the Jets is the bare minimum of that.

26 - Chicago Bears (LW: 25)

Andy Dalton will start on Thanksgiving Day for the second year in a row. What a world.

27 - Denver Broncos (LW: 26)

Teddy Bridgewater will be interesting to watch this week.

28 - Houston Texans (LW: 32)

What a huge win! ...that doesn’t change much for their season.

29 - Atlanta Falcons (LW: 27)

Yikes.

30 - New York Jets (LW: 29)

Bigger yikes.

31 - Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 30)

Ultra yikes.

32 - Detroit Lions (LW: 31)

What else is there to say?


NFL.com: 5 (LW: 3)

Just a slight drop.

On the first play from scrimmage, Dak Prescott spotted an open Michael Gallup streaking down the right sideline ... and missed his wideout by 5 yards on an overthrow. It would be the Cowboys’ best chance for an explosive play in a humbling 19-9 loss to the Chiefs. Prescott struggled on the big stage, and the Dallas offensive line failed to protect the team’s most prized asset. By game’s end, Prescott had thrown two interceptions, lost a fumble and was sacked five times. An excellent performance by the defense should have put the team in position to make a huge statement at Arrowhead. Instead, Dallas shrunk in the spotlight, fueling speculation we’re watching another Cowboys team that’s more sizzle than steak.

ESPN: 5 (LW: 4)

They also included what they deemed to be the most memorable Thanksgiving Day game.

Most memorable Thanksgiving game: Backup QB Clint Longley leads Cowboys to 24-23 win over Washington on Nov. 28, 1974

There are plenty to choose from, but “best” memory stood out, so that ruled out Randy Moss’ dominant showing in 1998 and Leon Lett’s ill-timed trek in the ice in 1993. The choice came down to backup quarterbacks, Longley and Jason Garrett. In 1994, Garrett outdueled Brett Favre to beat the Packers, but Longley’s comeback vs. Washington came out of nowhere. With Roger Staubach knocked out in the third quarter, the Cowboys were trailing 23-17 with less than 30 seconds to play when Longley, known as the Mad Bomber, hit Drew Pearson for a 50-yard touchdown to defeat their most heated rivals. — Todd Archer

USA Today: 5 (LW: 2)

When you lose you drop.

Losers of two of their past three and incredibly beaten up going into a short Thanksgiving week against Las Vegas. The good news is Dallas’ adversity has come against AFC West competition, which should limit any damage suffered on tiebreaker front.

Yahoo: 5 (LW: 4)

Only a bump down of one spot.

The Cowboys had some key injuries but they still need to get into the end zone once. Dak Prescott was bad, though it didn’t help that Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones was in his lap most downs. This is two horrid performances by the Dallas offense its last three games, and that’s troubling going forward.

CBS Sports: 12 (LW: 5)

There are fair reactions and then there are overreactions.

They didn’t do enough on offense in the loss to the Chiefs. Dak Prescott has to be better, even without some of his best offensive players.

Sports Illustrated: T-2 (LW: 4)

They had Kansas City number one and then a six-way tie for number two...

I’m not sure there are any real conclusions to be drawn from the loss in Kansas City—a rash of injuries in one position group will do that to you—but I did think it was a positive that the defense held on. Based on the whole body of work, there’s still an argument that this is the best team in the NFC.

Sporting News: 8 (LW: 4)

Another bit of a dip.

The Cowboys got ripped in Kansas City with no Amari Cooper and after losing CeeDee Lamb to a concussion. Dak Prescott was left to lead a different offense. Dallas also showed a lot of dents despite a good defensive performance. They have a short-week challenge with the Raiders at home next.