We are very firmly approaching the midway point of the 2022 NFL season and now have a very clear indication at just who teams are.
Thankfully for all of us, the Dallas Cowboys are a scrappy bunch led by an amazing defense with an offense that will hopefully start to gel and come together as more time passes. They seem destined to reach the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 2006-2007, and while that is not the ultimate goal by any means, even that sort of baseline accomplishment felt impossible not too long ago.
Arrowhead Pride’s Pete Sweeney and I discussed the state of the NFL following Sunday’s action on Monday’s episode of The SB Nation NFL Show. JP Acosta joined us to talk about the weirdness surrounding the two bays (both Green and Tampa) plus a variety of other things.
But how does the league stack up through Week 7? How do other outlets view the Cowboys within the overall landscape? As always, we have put together our weekly power rankings for your perusal and collected where others have the Cowboys slotted.
You can visit last week’s rankings right here. Let’s begin.
1 - Buffalo Bills (LW: 1)
An off week did not distract from the truth that Buffalo is the best team in the NFL.
2 - Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 3)
Back above the Eagles thanks to a huge offensive showing against a very good defense. Kansas City is one of the few teams (Buffalo obviously as well) that is delivering upon expectation.
3 - Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 2)
They are the best team in the NFC as of this moment. An easy matchup against the Steelers this week likely keeps the party going. Thankfully my Houston Astros will provide some sort of balance to that.
4 - Dallas Cowboys (LW: 7)
Football Outsiders has the Cowboys as the number 3 team in the NFL by DVOA (Buffalo and Philadelphia). They are second defensively, but 18th on the offensive side of the ball.
Things are looking very up for a team that knows how to win ugly.
5 - Minnesota Vikings (LW: 4)
Speaking of DVOA, it has suggested that this season’s Minnesota Vikings are maybe not the most formidable team to ever live. I’m higher on them than most, particularly because when that offense is on it is tough to beat.
6 - New York Giants (LW: 5)
It is difficult to not have them in the top five. We can sit here and try and poke holes in what they are accomplishing, their rush of production in the fourth quarter is certainly not sustainable, but as of now they are very much trending in the right direction.
7 - Baltimore Ravens (LW: 6)
You would think that a team with Lamar Jackson would find ways to not be so un-exciting on offense. Still though, the Ravens are a tough out.
8 - Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 10)
The Bengals are sort of coming back to life. Their rematch in Cincinnati with the Ravens should be fun.
9 - Seattle Seahawks (LW: 12)
Besides the Giants, they are the darlings of this NFL season in terms of surprise stories. Some of what they are feels a little impossible to hold up but there is no question that they are a good team. Next up is a riveting Seahawks-Giants game this week... who would have thought?!
10 - New York Jets (LW: 9)
The loss of Breece Hall is a lot to overcome, but the Jets have five wins right now and are on top of the world. Good for them.
11 - Tennessee Titans (LW: 14)
It seems very certain that the AFC South is going to belong to them for the 100th year in a row. They have a definite ceiling, but it won’t prohibit them from a playoff berth.
12 - Los Angeles Chargers (LW: 8)
No team faces so little consequences for under-delivering like the Chargers do.
13 - San Francisco 49ers (LW: 11)
We have learned not to underestimate this group. Sunday was difficult but it also happened to come against the Chiefs. Their offense is not great, but it is still October.
14 - Los Angeles Rams (LW: 16)
They will host San Francisco next week!
15 - Arizona Cardinals (LW: 23)
Welcome back to somewhat relevancy.
16 - Miami Dolphins (LW: 26)
The same goes for you.
17 - Atlanta Falcons (LW: 18)
Perhaps they have enough in them to sneak into the Wild Card race, but that is all they can really offer this season.
18 - Las Vegas Raiders (LW: 22)
Congratulations on being better than the Texans.
19 - Green Bay Packers (LW: 17)
Since the beginning of last season, Mike McCarthy’s Cowboys have more wins than Matt LaFleur’s Packers, and that’s with the former missing his starting quarterback for six games with the latter missing his for none. Interesting!
20 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 13)
Everything here feels off. Bad energy.
21 - Washington Commanders (LW: 27)
Taylor Heinicke is the best quarterback that they have. What a time.
22 - Chicago Bears (LW: 29)
See you on Sunday.
23 - New Orleans Saints (LW: 19)
Last Thursday night was rough to watch. Andy Dalton was a good soldier for the Cowboys, but we might be nearing the end of starting opportunities for him.
24 - Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 20)
Mike Tomlin is certainly going to have a record below .500 this season.
25 - New England Patriots (LW: 15)
Obviously they were not great prior to Tom Brady, but it is still strange to see them play so poorly with Bill Belichick as their head coach.
26 - Cleveland Browns (LW: 22)
27 - Houston Texans (LW: 30)
Blah but with some life on offense!
28 - Carolina Panthers (LW: 32)
How they managed to beat the Bucs remains a mystery. They are very down and out.
29 - Detroit Lions (LW: 24)
Truth be told, the game against them was pretty close until it wasn’t. But the Lions have gotten a lot of love for not really accomplishing anything under Dan Campbell. We need to see results and they just are not there.
30 - Indianapolis Colts (LW: 25)
Surely benching Matt Ryan will solve everything.
31 - Denver Broncos (LW: 28)
Just like it did here with Russell Wilson.
32 - Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 31)
Trevor Lawrence is hardly justifying all of the pre-draft love.
NFL.com: 4 (LW: 6)
Firmly inside of the top 5.
These Cowboys feel more dangerous because their success or failure won’t solely rely on a high-profile offense being asked to rise to the occasion when it counts. Teams built to win shootouts can be exposed in the postseason — but a team with a dominant defense? That will travel into January and perhaps beyond. We saw that again on Sunday at Jerrah World, where the Cowboys’ D again carried the day with five turnovers that led to 21 points in a 24-6 win over the Lions. The heavy lifting on Dan Quinn’s side of the ball allowed Dak Prescott (19 of 25, 207 yards, TD) to gently ease himself back into the mix after missing five weeks with a thumb injury. Prescott will only improve with more reps, making the Cowboys a well-rounded contender on the level of the Eagles.
ESPN: 6 (LW: 6)
No change from last week. For what it’s worth, they have the Giants at number 4.
Through seven games this season, the Cowboys have allowed just eight touchdowns — compared to the 19 touchdowns allowed through seven games in 2021. And they have allowed more than one touchdown in a game just once — the 26-17 loss to the 6-0 Eagles. They also rank second in points allowed per game (14.9), have a league-high 29 sacks and have registered 12 takeaways. Scoring matters most, and teams can’t find the end zone against Dallas. — Todd Archer
USA Today: 4 (LW: 4)
No change here, but still a top 4 ranking.
As Michael Irvin told me, QB Dak Prescott’s return “worked out perfectly” – Dallas facing two patsies at home (Detroit, Chicago) before a bye but after a loss, a period that allows Prescott to settle in and literally get a feel for throwing the rock again.
Yahoo: 4 (LW: 4)
Same situation here.
If you’re not in agreement that the Cowboys are the fourth-best team in football right now, it probably means you haven’t watched enough of their games or you hate Dallas. Since a bad Week 1 (and everyone in the NFL has had a bad week by now; you’re lucky if you’ve had just one) Dallas has won five of six and five of those games came with a backup quarterback. Dallas is really good. They are probably the second-best team in the NFC but also the second-best team in the NFC East (it really is possible the three best teams in the NFC are all in the East, which is wild).
CBS Sports: 6 (LW: 6)
Another no-change situation.
Getting Dak Prescott back is big, even if he didn’t roll up big numbers against the Lions in his first game back. He changes the dynamic of the offense.
The Athletic: 4 (LW: 6)
60% of the top 5 is the NFC East! What a world!
Dak Prescott did not exactly light the world on fire in his first game back from a thumb injury that kept him out five weeks. He attempted just 25 passes and the Cowboys offense only scored 10 points on its first eight offensive possessions until pulling away from the Lions late. As Mike Sando writes, right now it looks like the Cowboys are giving Prescott just a slightly more pass-heavy game plan than they had with Cooper Rush: “For the first time this season, the Cowboys passed more than they ran on early downs in the game’s first 28 minutes, albeit narrowly (12 passes, 10 runs). Run-pass ratios in those situations, before time remaining and score differential tend to influence play calling, can signal how aggressively teams feel comfortable playing. Buffalo leads the league at 70 percent pass in those situations. The Cowboys are 30th at 42 percent, down from 53 percent last season. They were back in that 2021 range Sunday.”
Sports Illustrated: 5 (LW: 10)
A big jump from last week’s ranking.
It’s hard to verbalize the fear around the league caused by Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs and DeMarcus Lawrence. At this point, positive plays against the Cowboys are merely an accident. Imagine what this looks like when Dak Prescott gets healthy and comfortable again.