At long last we have reached the bye week for the Dallas Cowboys. Arriving here after a win over the Chicago Bears when the offense was firing on all cylinders makes things feel just a little bit more nice.
There is not a single person who perfectly scripted how the Cowboys would arrive at this exact point. Losing their opening game of the season, not to mention their quarterback for the next five games, made matters difficult but some fine coaching and adjusting to the situation led to the right sequence of events and a 6-2 record.
The state of the NFL around the Cowboys remains a fascinating one with the resurgent Cincinnati Bengals looking as flat as ever on Monday night in their loss to the Cleveland Browns. That came just one day after the Atlanta Falcons took over first place in the NFC South (what a time!) which again serves as proof of how wild this season is across the league, something that Rob “Stats” Guerrera and I discussed on Monday’s episode of The SB Nation NFL Show.
Ranking these teams every week has proven to be a more interesting exercise than in years past but it is Tuesday (and the first November one at that) so the show must go on. We have indeed put together the latest batch of power rankings here at BTB and collected the opinion of several outlets regarding the Cowboys.
You can visit last week’s rankings right here. Let’s begin.
1 - Buffalo Bills (LW: 1)
Kings stay kings. They are undeniably the best team in the NFL. Josh Allen is insane.
2 - Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 2)
They had the week off but that does not change the fact that Patrick Mahomes is their quarterback, Travis Kelce is his top weapon, and that they added Kadarius Toney which is very interesting.
3 - Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 3)
Their schedule is remarkably easy so the first-round bye looks like theirs for the taking. Perhaps Houston can help us out on Thursday night (after the other Houston team has their way with the other Philadelphia team of course).
4 - Dallas Cowboys (LW: 4)
Entering Monday night Football Outsiders had them as 3rd overall in DVOA with an improvement to 12th on offense. With that side of the ball stabilizing, my goodness this could be fun.
5 - Minnesota Vikings (LW: 5)
Nobody wants to respect them. I don’t get it.
6 - Baltimore Ravens (LW: 7)
Adding Roquan Smith vaults them to more serious consideration than they have earned lately. That sounds rough about a 5-3 team, but they could arguably be even better than that. They are one to watch.
7 - Seattle Seahawks (LW: 9)
Are they really going to win the NFC West?!
8 - Tennessee Titans (LW: 11)
After starting off the season 0-2 (with those losses to the Giants and Bills) they have stormed back to win five in a row. Do not forget that they were the number one seed in the AFC last season (although they won’t be this year).
9 - San Francisco 49ers (LW: 13)
The Christian McCaffrey trade paid off on Sunday, but will that transpire across the rest of the season?
10 - New York Giants (LW: 6)
In no way is this some sort of “they were finally exposed!” week for them. Seattle is a tough team and the Giants made it somewhat close. They are a likely playoff team in their own right.
11 - Miami Dolphins (LW: 16)
It is amazing how Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle both consistently perform week after week. Now it is time for the Dolphins as a whole to be consistent on a weekly basis.
12 - Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 8)
Obviously Ja’Marr Chase was out, but they looked straight up terrible. No excuse for that.
13 - Los Angeles Chargers (LW: 12)
They were off last week but are a general disappointment.
14 - Atlanta Falcons (LW: 17)
Could they win the NFC South??? Why not?!
15 - New York Jets (LW: 10)
Unlike their across-the-street friends they have indeed been exposed. Zach Wilson is not it.
16 - Los Angeles Rams (LW: 14)
Has their ever been a reigning Super Bowl champion that people were as disinterested in as people are the Rams? They are so bad and nobody cares.
17 - Arizona Cardinals (LW: 15)
Another question... when was the last time a team was in last place in their division while clearly having the best quarterback of the group? Murray may not be the best right now, but he certainly has the most talent. It is amazing how dysfunctional they are.
18 - New Orleans Saints (LW: 23)
It all feels pointless. This team isn’t good. That they gave up their first-round pick to the Eagles is frustrating.
19 - New England Patriots (LW: 25)
Congratulations to Bill Belichick on passing George Halas on the all-time wins list. He has dominated the NFL and that is a very impressive thing.
20 - Cleveland Browns (LW: 26)
Jacoby Brissett is a lot of fun.
21 - Washington Commanders (LW: 21)
Tell me it is impossible that they also make it to the playoffs. You can’t.
22 - Green Bay Packers (LW: 19)
Next week is for Mike McCarthy.
23 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 20)
All of the vibes here are bad. Maybe they bounce back. Maybe not. Who knows.
24 - Chicago Bears (LW: 22)
Justin Fields showed a teeny bit of promise, when he wasn’t avoiding Micah Parsons and therefore allowing the other team to score a touchdown, but trading away Roquan Smith (after dealing away Robert Quinn last week) is a screaming sign that they are looking towards 2023. Best of luck to Matt Eberflus.
25 - Las Vegas Raiders (LW: 18)
How do you get shut out by the Saints? How do you not use Davante Adams more?
26 - Carolina Panthers (LW: 28)
P.J. Walker, ladies and gentlemen!
27 - Denver Broncos (LW: 31)
A win is a win, but they are really bad.
28 - Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 24)
Rebuilding is hard.
29 - Detroit Lions (LW: 29)
Matt Patricia had more wins in his final 24 games with the team (5-19) than Dan Campbell does in his first 24 games (4-19-1). That is marginal and the point isn’t to say that Patricia is a better coach because he’s not... but the national media fell all sorts of in love with the Lions for no real reason. They are the same bad team.
30 - Indianapolis Colts (LW: 30)
It turns out benching Matt Ryan didn’t save them. Who knew!
Now they have thrown someone else under the bus by firing their offensive coordinator.
31 - Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 32)
Speaking of being the same bad team.
32 - Houston Texans (LW: 27)
Get the win on Thursday and we will bump you up to 20th out of gratitude.
NFL.com: 4 (LW: 4)
Starting off strong.
The Cowboys’ defense carried the team when Dak Prescott was on the shelf with a busted thumb. As a long season winds on, perhaps we’re now starting to see a reversal of roles. The previously stingy Dallas D was gashed for 240 yards on the ground by Chicago, but Prescott and the Cowboys’ attack was outstanding in a 49-29 win at Jerrah World. Dallas scored touchdowns on its first four possessions for the first time in eight years, while Prescott and Tony Pollard (three total touchdowns each) powered an offense that overwhelmed an inferior opponent. If the Cowboys can sync up both sides of the ball, there are few teams who can even hang with them.
ESPN: 4 (LW: 6)
The worldwide leader also listed a reason for optimism for each team.
Reason for optimism: Defense ... but also offense
The defense has been the story of the first eight games, giving up an average of only 16.6 points (ranked third in the league). The run defense, though, is a worry, giving up an average of 135.1 yards.
But the offense is trending in the right direction since Dak Prescott’s return from a fractured right thumb. The Cowboys have shown they can run the ball with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard regardless of circumstance, but the passing game is improving as Prescott gets re-accustomed to CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup and Dalton Schultz. They’ll need it as the second half begins and the games get more difficult and important. — Todd Archer
USA Today: 4 (LW: 4)
It feels like a lot of outlets are going to have Dallas at number four.
Backup (for now) Tony Pollard’s 6.2 yards per carry are best among all NFL running backs. So why is Jerry Jones adamant Ezekiel Elliott remain the lead back ahead of a player who’s clearly more explosive?
Yahoo: 4 (LW: 4)
Everyone is laughing over Jerry Jones saying ”We’re going to go as Zeke goes,” after Tony Pollard went off in Ezekiel Elliott’s absence, but there is some validity to it. Really. Pollard isn’t going away. He’ll have a big role. He is also a 209-pound back who had never logged 12 or more carries in back-to-back games until Dallas’ past two games. Teams need two backs. Jones is overstating Elliott’s importance, but a healthy Elliott and a fresh Pollard give the Cowboys a valuable combination.
CBS Sports: 5 (LW: 6)
Well there goes that!
Dak Prescott looked much better in his second game back from injury. The defense, though, let down some against the Bears.
The Athletic: 4 (LW: 4)
Broken up into a fact and opinion.
Fact: Tony Pollard carried the ball 14 times for 131 yards and three touchdowns against the Bears. By yards per carry (9.4), TruMedia’s EPA per rush (0.81) and EPA per touch (1.14), it was the best game by a starting Cowboys running back since Ezekiel Elliott entered the league in 2016.
Opinion: Penn State fans should never forgive the coaching staff that misused Micah Parsons in college.
Sports Illustrated: 6 (LW: 5)
The Cowboys actually dropped in these rankings.
Deep, ruthless and efficient. The Cowboys saw a team do absolutely everything it could to stop Micah Parsons (including running directly at Parsons to get more blockers on him and allowing DeMarcus “Tank” Lawrence to scream off the opposite edge unblocked), and they still won comfortably. They have the perfect mix of star players and critical, athletic role players who can bust a touchdown at any given moment.