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2021 NFL Week 2 power rankings: The impact of a “moral victory” for the Dallas Cowboys

How the world views the Cowboys.

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Dallas Cowboys v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The first full week of NFL action is officially in the books and what a week it was. Several of the things we believed certainly look like they could be the case as far as this season is concerned. However, a lot of other things definitely look questionable, too.

Half of the teams in the league each have a win while the other can’t wait for the opportunity to earn their first. Where do things stand in the National Football League entering Week 2? It’s time for our weekly power rankings as well as the collection of how other outlets are viewing the Dallas Cowboys.

You can visit our rankings from last week right here. Let’s begin.

1 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 1)

The kings stay the kings, even if the Cowboys almost pulled it off.

2 - Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 2)

They flirted with opening the season with a loss, but a muffed punt helped them out. You can’t help but feel like they will always pull it out.

3 - Los Angeles Rams (LW: 7)

It seems as if the offseason hype was justified, no?

4 - New Orleans Saints (LW: 20)

It will be very interesting to see how much of a mirage Week 1 was. They ran into a Packers team that sort of mailed it in, but what a performance nonetheless.

5 - Los Angeles Chargers (LW: 9)

They handled the Washington front in a way that few teams do. We’ll see them on Sunday.

6 - Arizona Cardinals (LW: 14)

Sometimes you have a game where everything just works. What a day for the Cardinals.

7 - Seattle Seahawks (LW: 10)

There are few things prettier in the NFL than a Russell Wilson bomb to Tyler Lockette.

8 - San Francisco 49ers (LW: 11)

Things got a little bit touchy at the end of the game, but they look like they are definitely back to a strong degree.

9 - Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 12)

Ultimately this offense was still asleep at the wheel for a large portion of the game. It felt more like Buffalo lost it than Pittsburgh won it.

10 - Cleveland Browns (LW: 5)

They almost played a perfect game. What a shame.

11 - Las Vegas Raiders (LW: 19)

What an incredible win on Monday night.

12 - Dallas Cowboys (LW: 13)

It is difficult to climb in power rankings after you lose, but the Cowboys were really impressive last week. Hopefully they get in the win column on Sunday.

13 - Buffalo Bills (LW: 3)

There is no more disappointing team to me this week. If the Bills want to be viewed as a team that can contend in the AFC they have to flex their muscle. Failing to score when they were pitching a shutout for so long is unacceptable.

14 - Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 23)

Any big win merits a sizable jump, but the Falcons looked utterly terrible. Perhaps Philadelphia will be alright this season, but it does seem like they could float back down to earth soon.

15 - Miami Dolphins (LW: 16)

They pulled out a win, but it was hardly convincing. Time will tell if Tua is for real.

16 - Green Bay Packers (LW: 4)

GOODNESS. WHAT A DISASTER. You just absolutely hate to see it.

17 - Tennessee Titans (LW: 8)

Another incredibly poor performance. Tennessee has a lot of work to do.

18 - Denver Broncos (LW: 24)

We certainly appreciate them taking down the Giants, and their roster does show promise. But there is a very clear ceiling.

19 - Baltimore Ravens (LW: 6)

A heartbreaker of an end on Monday night.

20 - Carolina Panthers (LW: 25)

They really punted from the opponent’s 33-yard line.

21 - Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 28)

Defeating the Vikings was a huge moment for them. And hey, Ja’Marr Chase can catch!

22 - Washington Football Team (LW: 15)

The injury to Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to loom large over them. All the best to him in his road to recovery. They’ll play on Thursday night.

23 - New England Patriots (LW: 17)

Mac Jones looked solid, but we still need to see more.

24 - Minnesota Vikings (LW: 18)

It feels like they could be on the verge of being one of the worst teams in the league.

25 - Atlanta Falcons (LW: 21)

They might be the actual worst team in the league. What a disaster.

26 - Chicago Bears (LW: 22)

Everybody in the universe except for Matt Nagy knew how starting Andy Dalton was going to go.

27 - Houston Texans (LW: 32)

Perhaps their win was just a product of their competition, but good to see a nice moment for David Culley.

28 - Indianapolis Colts (LW: 26)

There is a lot of talk about the Colts offensive line letting their quarterback down, but Carson Wentz isn’t exactly known for making things easier in that regard. Who would have thought the problems wouldn’t have changed just because his uniform did?

29 - Detroit Lions (LW: 30)

They rallied which is nice to see, but they are clearly limited by their quarterback.

30 - New York Jets (LW: 27)

A pretty boring debut for Zach Wilson.

31 - New York Giants (LW: 29)

This is one of the worst and most boring offenses in the NFL. And it’ll be on primetime on Thursday!

32 - Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 31)

Gross. 19 (LW: 19)

Some need to see more for the Cowboys.

Moral victories only go so far in the NFL, but I’m guessing the Cowboys privately feel pretty good about themselves after nearly knocking off the defending-champion Bucs in the Thursday night opener. The defense created four turnovers while the offense has a legit MVP contender leading the charge at quarterback. Dak Prescott was a machine in his first game since fracturing his ankle last October, throwing for 403 yards and three scores on a ridiculous 58 attempts. Prescott was sacked just once, and he carved up a great Tampa Bay defense with the help of Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, who just might be seen as the best 1-2 wideout combo in football by season’s end.

ESPN: 13 (LW: N/A)

The worldwide leader has Dallas as one of the highest-ranked teams that lost last week.

Top rookie: LB Micah Parsons

Parsons wasn’t the best rookie by default, either. An argument can be made he was the Cowboys’ best defender in the season opener against Tampa Bay. He had seven tackles and a pass deflection, and did not look out of place when lining up in different positions. There were a couple welcome-to-the-NFL moments, like when Tom Brady threaded a pass to Rob Gronkowski, despite sticky coverage. All in all it was a solid debut for Parsons and the expectations will only continue to grow. — Todd Archer

USA Today: 9 (LW: 14)

A top 10 ranking for the Cowboys here.

Encouraging start for QB Dak Prescott after shining in his first game in 11 months ... though far less encouraging start for a rebooted defense that merely needs to be average but didn’t reach that bar in Tampa despite generating four turnovers.

Yahoo: 19 (LW: 18)

Some remain unimpressed.

Let’s calm down about Ezekiel Elliott’s lack of work. The Buccaneers run defense is great; the Cowboys’ best chance to win was exactly what they did, throwing outside. And it almost worked. Elliott will be just fine, but forcing inefficient carries to a back in the name of being balanced is stupid football.

CBS Sports: 18 (LW: 14)

Having the Cowboys behind Washington is... interesting.

The offense will be fun to watch as we saw in Tampa. But this season will be decided by the defense, which wasn’t good against Tom Brady.

Sports Illustrated: 14 (LW: 16)

A teeny climb right here.

Prediction time: Dallas will be a top seven team at the end of Week 4. Overcoming their head coach’s ho-hum tendencies will be a somewhat herculean task, but the keys are truly in the hands of Dak Prescott and Kellen Moore, one of the most exciting young coach and quarterback tandems in the NFL. The running game, especially thanks to Moore’s willingness to tease the speed and versatility of Tony Pollard, will look different than in years past but may end up more effective.

Sporting News: 15 (LW: 14)

Another dip.

Dak Prescott is back and the offense looks like it can hang with anyone, and that’s before getting the ground attack up and running at normal levels with Ezekiel Elliott. The defense also seems to be playing more inspired with youth serving for Dan Quinn.

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