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2021 NFL Week 16 power rankings: The Dallas Cowboys have re-entered the top five

Dallas is on the rise in the NFL.

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

It took a day longer than expected, but Week 15 of this season finally came to a conclusion on Tuesday night. There are only three weeks left before the tournament begins.

This NFL season has felt a little bit more wild and unpredictable than ones of years past. There have definitely been a lot of shocking moments and it has felt like they have happened almost on a weekly basis.

How do things stand with three weeks left to go? As always, we have put together our power rankings and corralled how the rest of the world views the Dallas Cowboys.

You can visit our rankings from last week right here.

1 - Green Bay Packers (LW: 1)

Football is a game of inches and if not for a missed two-point conversion the Dallas Cowboys would hold Green Bay’s spot atop the NFC this week. Nevertheless the Packers are an impressive team and have the likely MVP running their operation in Aaron Rodgers. Sigh.

2 - Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 5)

Last week saw a bit more of an offensive resurgence from Kansas City, and as Cowboys fans we are all hoping that their team can come out of the funk, the Chiefs were in in a similar way. Their path to the number one seed is very clear. It is amazing how some things always find a way.

3 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 2)

It is difficult to properly contextualize a Tampa loss when they were down so many important offensive players, but it is clear that they are not impervious. Now they are dealing with a few big injuries.

4 - Dallas Cowboys (LW: 7)

Objectively speaking, they are a team that has won three games in a row, all on the road, and is in a position to control their own destiny with regards to playoff positioning over the season’s final three weeks.

Not bad.

5 - Indianapolis Colts (LW: 10)

It turns out being on Hard Knocks is a bit of good luck this season. Indianapolis is rolling and week by week continues to worsen the pick that they will be sending to Philadelphia. You hate to see it.

6 - Arizona Cardinals (LW: 3)

This has been a season where contending teams have lost weird games almost on a weekly basis across the NFL... but no contending team has lost to the Detroit Lions. What a devastating loss for the Cardinals.

7 - New England Patriots (LW: 4)

There is no shame in losing the way that New England did last Saturday night. The football world has learned not to doubt them and they will have opportunities in the playoffs to prove why. Next up is another huge matchup against the Buffalo Bills where they can re-take the AFC East title.

8 - Los Angeles Rams (LW: 9)

We are rooting for them to win out to keep the three-way tie alive among division winners. Tuesday night was a good start.

9 - San Francisco 49ers (LW: 12)

Kyle Shanahan has done a great job leading them out of the wilderness and into playoff relevancy. While it is clear that Jimmy Garoppolo has a ceiling one has to wonder how the team is going to handle the transition to Trey Lance in 2022.

10 - Tennessee Titans (LW: 6)

Inter-conference matchups don’t always carry a ton of weight, but Tennessee will need to get right on Thursday night against San Francisco. That should be fun to watch. This team sorely needs Derrick Henry back.

11 - Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 14)

Could they really win the AFC North? They currently sit atop it and a win on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens would go a long way towards making that dream a reality.

12 - Los Angeles Chargers (LW: 8)

A win last Thursday would have gone a long way towards bringing the hype that people had about this team before the season into reality. While they wound up losing to Kansas City the Chargers can still be heavy hitters in the postseason, they are just going to likely have to do it as a Wildcard team.

13 - Minnesota Vikings (LW: 15)

If the playoffs started today the Cowboys would host them in the Wildcard Round. We’ll need them to beat the Packers, like they already did earlier this season, next week. They can definitely be of interest down the stretch.

14 - Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 18)

Mike Tomlin will always find a way. Pittsburgh has a ways to go towards securing a playoff berth, but they are going to be in the mix down the stretch.

15 - Buffalo Bills (LW: 16)

They beat the Carolina Panthers, but they lost two incredibly important games before that. This is a big season for Buffalo and if they don’t beat New England this week it will all start to really slip away from them.

16 - Baltimore Ravens (LW: 13)

Ravens fans will wonder forever what their 2021 season would have looked like if a few two-point conversions had gone their way.

17 - Las Vegas Raiders (LW: 21)

They don’t really seem like they are going to do anything special, but a win is a win.

18 - Cleveland Browns (LW: 11)

They were obviously down and in a difficult spot on Monday, but their playoff hopes seem to be fading away.

19 - New Orleans Saints (LW: 23)

Death, taxes, and the New Orleans Saints beating the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

20 - Denver Broncos (LW: 17)

In another year the Broncos might be a playoff team. There is enough there for them to work with, but they are starting to run out of time on the regular season.

21 - Miami Dolphins (LW: 24)

They were 1-7 and over two months have won six games in a row to now be 7-7. It truly is a shame for all of the Philadelphia Eagles fans that thought they were going to get a top pick from Miami!

22 - Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 22)

Are they really playoff contenders? Probably not.

At least all of their draft stock continues to take hits.

23 - Washington Football Team (LW: 20)

They did a little brother thing and lost. What a shame.

24 - Seattle Seahawks (LW: 19)

The end of this era has been tough to watch.

25 - Atlanta Falcons (LW: 25)

The Falcons might be the least significant team in the NFL this season. There is just no real juice to this group.

26 - Detroit Lions (LW: 30)

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

27 - Chicago Bears (LW: 27)

A completely broken football team.

28 - Carolina Panthers (LW: 28)

We have said this a number of times but it is worth repeating:

Remember when people said the Cowboys should have hired Matt Rhule over Mike McCarthy?

29 - New York Jets (LW: 29)

At least they won a game. Wait. No they didn’t. Such are the New York Jets.

30 - Houston Texans (LW: 31)

They actually did win a game!

31 - New York Giants (LW: 26)

A total and complete disaster of an organization. Oh well!

32 - Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 32)

The lowest you can go in the NFL these days. 8 (LW: 7)

Last week was the first time in the history of this exercise that I dropped the Cowboys after they won a game. It seems this outlet is of a similar mindset one week later.

The Cowboys have become the NFC version of what the Chiefs were in the AFC for much of this season: a team filled with high-profile stars on offense getting regularly carried by its defense. Dak Prescott and the Dallas attack continued to look pedestrian in a 21-6 win over the Giants, leaving it to the defense to do the heavy lifting. Dan Quinn’s guys happily accepted the challenge, forcing four turnovers for the third consecutive week. The stats tell the story of an opportunistic unit: The Cowboys lead the league with 23 interceptions and are tied for first in takeaways with 31. The D will take Big D to an NFC East title, but there’s no road back to the Lombardi unless the offense finds its groove.

ESPN: 4 (LW: 6)

The worldwide leader also gauged the temperature of each coach’s seat and it should come as no surprise that they view Mike McCarthy’s to be one needing one of those warming benches that the Cowboys took to Landover.

How hot is Mike McCarthy’s seat: 1. Cold seat

The campaign might not have started out that way after last season’s 6-10 finish, but McCarthy has the Cowboys poised to clinch the NFC East title and perhaps the top seed in the playoffs. He has managed a team that has dealt with injuries and COVID-19. He has had some eyebrow-raising moments with his clock management at times, but he has done a good job of making sure the players have been physically and emotionally ready to play a 17-game season. Ultimately, he will be judged by what the Cowboys do in the postseason, but there’s no question about his status going into 2022. — Todd Archer

USA Today: 4 (LW: 7)

Moving on up!

Who cares if QB Dak Prescott isn’t firing on all cylinders? When you’re the first defense in 14 years with a double-digit sack artist (LB Micah Parsons, 12) and ball thief (CB Trevon Diggs, 10 INTs), the offense enjoys some margin for error.

Yahoo: 3 (LW: 6)

A call for Tony Pollard to see more touches out of the backfield as well as the highest ranking so far.

Tony Pollard had 74 yards on 12 carries. Ezekiel Elliott got four more carries than Pollard and had 52 yards. It’s not like “Pollard looks way better than Elliott” is some new thought, but the Cowboys still won’t admit it.

CBS Sports: 3 (LW: 7)

A tie for highest overall! How high can we go?!

The offense still didn’t click against the Giants, but the running game did. They still need to get Dak Prescott going.

Sports Illustrated: 4 (LW: 7)

This has been a popular spot as well.

I had—shamefully—forgotten about DeMarcus Lawrence (who has missed most of the year) until Sunday, when he lined up inside Micah Parsons and, singled up on a guard, got to Mike Glennon and forced an interception. This defense will have enough in January, and we know they can run the ball. The question, considering his performance over the past month, is Dak Prescott. In my opinion, he threw the ball better on Sunday but was too often out of rhythm. Which is, maybe, better than just being frequently off-target?

Sporting News: 4 (LW: 7)

Very popular indeed.

The Cowboys had a get-well offensive game for Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott against the Giants, even though it wasn’t always pretty. Their defense is still getting it done big-time as the backbone with Micah Parson and Trevon Diggs. They are a shade off the Packers and the Bucs in the NFL.

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