There are four weeks left in this NFL season and if they are anything like these last 14 have been, they promise to be rather dramatic and unpredictable. Despite the fact that we are just a week and a half away from Christmas there are still very few teams who we are absolutely certain are totally legit. There are obviously some notable squads, but most of the field has had moments where they didn’t show up.
Consider that some teams regarded as playoff-caliber units - Cleveland, Dallas, Tampa Bay, San Francisco - all almost blew huge leads throughout the week. That’s not even counting Minnesota on Thursday night.
How do we see the league 14 weeks in (where everyone has now had their bye by the way)? As we do every week we have put together our weekly power rankings and gathered how various outlets view the Cowboys specifically. It is time to begin.
1 - Green Bay Packers (LW: 2)
They are the most consistent top team in the NFL. It sucks.
2 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 3)
It is somewhat comforting to know that even the reigning Super Bowl champions - who look well-equipped for a potential repeat run - also let their opponent back into the game on Sunday; however, Tampa was playing a team that was a little more qualified in the Buffalo Bills. Either way they continue to roll.
3 - Arizona Cardinals (LW: 1)
Nobody is perfect. The Cardinals are still a contender, but their place atop the list has come to an end.
4 - New England Patriots (LW: 4)
As if it weren’t already decided, the AFC East is clearly going to be theirs. Now it is a matter of whether or not the top seed in their conference will be as well.
5 - Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 5)
It is extremely impressive how they have battled back to get their season back on track. Offensively they have clicked, but only against the Las Vegas Raiders as far as notable performance. Can they do it on Thursday night against the Chargers?
6 - Tennessee Titans (LW: 8)
Beating the Jaguars, even as impressively as they did, is hardly a measure of a great team. But there is no doubt about it, the Titans are very good. AND they are going to likely get Derrick Henry back soon.
7 - Dallas Cowboys (LW: 6)
A win is a win, and ultimately that’s all that matters. But the Cowboys look flawed in the worst ways on offense and need to get their act together before we reach January.
8 - Los Angeles Chargers (LW: 10)
You just never know which Chargers team is going to show up which is why it is hard to put them higher. We know that they can be among the NFL’s best. The stage is set for them on Thursday night.
9 - Los Angeles Rams (LW: 9)
Monday night was extremely impressive, but we have also seen this team be inconsistent for long stretches. Can they truly return to form?
10 - Indianapolis Colts (LW: 11)
They have a massive game against New England coming up on Saturday.
11 - Cleveland Browns (LW: 17)
Could they possibly win the AFC North? It is hard to argue against that right now.
12 - San Francisco 49ers (LW: 19)
Kyle Shanahan really saved the season that he broke, didn’t he? The 49ers are going to the playoffs and could be a potential Wildcard matchup for the Cowboys.
13 - Baltimore Ravens (LW: 7)
Pretty much all of who they will be over the rest of this season has to do with Lamar Jackson’s health. They have overcome injury after injury, but this might finally be too much.
14 - Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 12)
There is some solace in the type of loss that they had, a morale victory if you will, but the AFC Wildcard race is pretty thick.
15 - Minnesota Vikings (LW: 20)
It is a popular thing to bag on Kirk Cousins and while he isn’t the greatest quarterback to ever live he is certainly enough for the Vikings to contend. They survived last week and have a chance to do something interesting down the stretch.
16 - Buffalo Bills (LW: 13)
This season is a disaster for them. They had finally climbed to the top of the AFC East after two decades in the basement, had legitimate Super Bowl aspirations, and are now barely above .500. Yikes.
17 - Denver Broncos (LW: 24)
Sunday was clearly an emotional win for the Broncos, and it was very impressive to see them come out and totally dominate the Lions. They are firmly in the playoff mix as well.
18 - Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 14)
It was pretty impressive to see how Pittsburgh rallied late in Minnesota, but the reality is that they just aren’t good enough against most teams. Their offense is limited by their quarterback and as was evidenced in the game’s final moments. Some players don’t have the proper priorities lined up for winning to be the ultimate goal.
19 - Seattle Seahawks (LW: 22)
Two wins in a row, but it is too little too late.
20 - Washington Football Team (LW: 15)
21 - Las Vegas Raiders (LW: 16)
The Raiders foolishly decided to try and have a moment on the Chiefs’ logo at midfield before the game and then proceeded to suffer the biggest loss to them that they ever have in franchise history. That is a new level of embarrassing.
22 - Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 18)
Please beat Washington this week.
23 - New Orleans Saints (LW: 28)
They are running out of season to make things properly interesting.
24 - Miami Dolphins (LW: 21)
Can they continue the streak after the bye?
25 - Atlanta Falcons (LW: 23)
Ultimately this is a rebuilding year for them, but what have they even built up?
26 - New York Giants (LW: 25)
They have now suffered five-straight losing seasons since the infamous boat photo prior to their playoff game at the end of the 2016 season. It’s a shame. You hate to see it.
27 - Chicago Bears (LW: 26)
Aaron Rodgers owns them. It isn’t up for debate.
28 - Carolina Panthers (LW: 27)
Matt Rhule is going back and forth between quarterbacks now. What a mess.
29 - New York Jets (LW: 29)
Mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, the New York Jet Way.
30 - Detroit Lions (LW: 30)
Well what do you know, they couldn’t win two in a row.
31 - Houston Texans (LW: 32)
At least they are not the Jacksonville Jaguars.
32 - Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 31)
NFL.com: 7 (LW: 6)
It feels like a dip could be common among rangers this week despite the win.
The Cowboys’ defense was a big-play machine in Sunday’s win over the Washington Football Team. Defensive end Randy Gregory returned to the lineup and made two huge plays, an acrobatic interception that led to a Dallas touchdown and the strip-sack of Kyle Allen that sealed the win in the fourth quarter. Micah Parsons also continued to build on his outrageous rookie season with a sack-fumble that produced a touchdown. Dak Prescott and the Dallas attack remain locked in a curious funk, but the Cowboys all but sealed the NFC East by showing they are more than the star wattage on that side of the ball. No wonder Mike McCarthy felt so confident.
ESPN: 6 (LW: 7)
No dip here! A climb!
Who would’ve thought the defense would be the strong point of this team? Nobody would have said that at the beginning of the season. The hope was the Cowboys would finish in the top half of the league, which would be a huge improvement over 2020. Being just good enough would’ve made them a contender, but now the defense is enjoying its strongest season in recent years, and the offense is scuffling. To be a real contender in January, however, the offense has to get back to putting up points, and that means big plays, which have been cut way back in recent weeks. — Todd Archer
USA Today: 7 (LW: 6)
Well never mind about climbing.
They’d currently rank as the AFC’s No. 1 seed and are still very much in the picture for home-field advantage in the NFC. Maybe Mike McCarthy should guarantee Dallas will wrap that up, too.
Yahoo: 6 (LW: 6)
No dip. No climb. No movement.
Ezekiel Elliott had 12 carries on Sunday. Corey Clement, who had nine carries for 20 yards before Sunday, had 13 carries against Washington. Elliott had 45 yards and little-used Clement had 44. Elliottt’s fade this season is a real issue.
CBS Sports: 7 (LW: 10)
Right around the pack.
The defense will be trouble going forward now that the injured down players are back on the field. They can wreck a game. Dak Prescott does have to pick it up.
Sports Illustrated: 7 (LW: 4)
Likewise. This is a pretty popular spot for the Cowboys this week.
Finally, a team breaks away from the NFC log jam and starts asserting itself. While Dallas is imperfect and Dak Prescott seems to be experimenting a bit and rediscovering his comfort zone in the pocket, their roster offensively is miles deep with playmakers. Defensively, this newfound potency is such an incredible lift for Mike McCarthy, who should have hired Dan Quinn the moment the Falcons let him go in season last year.
Sporting News: 7 (LW: 9)
I told you it was popular!
The Cowboys used Washington to get well and quiet any talk of them losing hold of the NFC East again. Dak Prescott and the offense are still slumping in many ways, but the defense continues to show it’s been the real reliable strength from the get-go.