It is often said that on any given Sunday that any NFL team can beat another. This past Sunday the Dallas Cowboys almost let that happen. But the Cowboys rallied and defeated the Houston Texans in the same way that the Kansas City Chiefs held on against the Denver Broncos. It is an unfortunate truth but you cannot blow out every team or score 33 points in every fourth quarter.
While morale is a bit lower this week than last, the Dallas Cowboys remain one of the very best teams in the NFL. Assessing the state of the league by way of power rankings is always an interesting exercise and figuring out where Dallas ranks after Sunday’s scare was certainly different than slotting them in over the past few weeks.
As always we have provided our weekly power rankings for you here at BTB and gathered how outlets around the internet view the Cowboys specifically.
You can visit last week’s rankings right here. Let’s begin.
1. Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 1)
It was fair to wonder whether or not they would start to regress after their first (and so far only) loss. But on Sunday they looked every bit as dominant as they have throughout the earlier parts of the season. They are the team to beat right now.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 2)
They suffered their own scare on Sunday afternoon but wound up holding on, too.
3. Dallas Cowboys (LW: 3)
Nobody is feeling incredible about the way that the Cowboys played on Sunday, but they won and the other teams around them in these power rankings also sort of struggled.
4. Buffalo Bills (LW: 4)
Case and point... the Bills sort of barely held on against a Jets team that is starting to regress like their New York neighbors.
5. San Francisco 49ers (LW: 6)
This is certainly the exception considering San Francisco looked very mighty against Tampa Bay. It feels unsustainable for them to continue like this but Kyle Shanahan is known for finding a way. Who knows?
6. Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 7)
The Bengals have found their form at the perfect time. They look every bit like a Super Bowl contender as we roll through December.
7. Minnesota Vikings (LW: 5)
I’ve been a believer in the Vikings more than others but this is really hard to defend.
They not only lost but did so as an underdog and were an underdog as a 10-win team against a squad below .500. That sure is something.
8. Los Angeles Chargers (LW: 13)
Are we ready to really believe? Was Sunday night the first real step?
9. Miami Dolphins (LW: 8)
The Dolphins have been so much fun this season but it is starting to feel like they are running on fumes as far as their offense goes. Hopefully they find a way to stop the skid against Buffalo on Saturday (yes we have three Saturday games this week).
10. Seattle Seahawks (LW: 9)
If any team has lost steam as of late it is the Seahawks. What a bummer.
11. Detroit Lions (LW: 14)
It is happening. The Lions are becoming a real and functional team.
12. Washington Commanders (LW: 11)
They can all but end things for the Giants on Sunday night.
13. Tennessee Titans (LW: 10)
Getting blown out by the Eagles is one thing but getting blown out by the Jaguars is embarrassing.
14. Baltimore Ravens (LW: 16)
Any time that you can win without your starting quarterback is impressive. Baltimore has struggled over the last four weeks but has won three of those games. They know how to not fall out of a race at the very least.
15. New York Jets (LW: 15)
They are limited by their quarterback play. But the playoffs are still within reach!
16. New York Giants (LW: 17)
It has been exactly one month since they won a game.
17. New England Patriots (LW: 23)
Saying that a win is a win is becoming quite popular this week and New England took advantage of their situation and kept themselves alive in the playoff race.
18. Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 22)
See you on Sunday.
19. Carolina Panthers (LW: 25)
In an ideal world the Panthers win the NFC South and host the Cowboys in the Wild Card Round.
20. Las Vegas Raiders (LW: 12)
Thursday night was an all-time embarrassing loss.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 18)
It is still very weird to see them struggle so much.
22. Green Bay Packers (LW: 19)
At least the season is almost over.
23. Cleveland Browns (LW: 20)
They look all sorts of lost.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 21)
If they do not win out then Mike Tomlin will finish below .500 for the first time in his career.
25. Los Angeles Rams (LW: 30)
It feels unlikely, but maybe Baker Mayfield can make these last four weeks fun.
26. Arizona Cardinals (LW: 24)
Losing your quarterback is a difficult thing and the Cardinals don’t appear equipped to handle life without Kyler Murray.
27. Chicago Bears (LW: 26)
Find a way to win this week, Matt Eberflus. Please.
28. Atlanta Falcons (LW: 27)
Desmond Ridder time!
29. Denver Broncos (LW: 31)
They almost pulled it off!
30. Houston Texans (LW: 32)
31. New Orleans Saints (LW: 28)
It would be very weird if Sean Payton just returned to the Saints, wouldn’t it?
32. Indianapolis Colts (LW: 29)
NFL.com: 6 (LW: 2)
This was always going to be the case.
Dak Prescott and the Cowboys woke up just in time against the Texans. After a goal-line stand by the defense, Prescott completed 6 of 7 passes and added two scrambles (including one for a first down) on a 98-yard drive that culminated with Ezekiel Elliott’s 2-yard game-winning touchdown run with 41 seconds on the clock. The 27-23 win was dramatic, but barely finding a way to get past the one-win Texans tells the story of a Dallas team that needs to tighten things up. The remaining schedule is tough, starting with a road matchup against a fast-improving Jaguars team.
ESPN: 4 (LW: 4)
No movement here. They also included rankings for each side of the ball based around their FPI rankings.
Special teams: 6
The Cowboys are one of three teams to rank inside the top 10 in all three categories, so that means they’re pretty good. But the fact that the offense is seventh after Dak Prescott missed five games with a fractured thumb is telling. The Cowboys managed their way through Prescott’s absence with Cooper Rush, and they have largely excelled since Prescott’s return. Thank the running game with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, who have combined for 1,610 yards. Thank the red zone offense (20 touchdowns in 28 trips since Prescott’s return). Thank the third-down offense (51-of-89 since Prescott’s return). But Prescott has to watch the interceptions, with eight since his return. — Todd Archer
USA Today: 4 (LW: 2)
A drop down, but not a seismic one.
Adversity never fails to make at least an annual trip to Dallas. It showed up Sunday, when America’s Team was nearly Texas’ second-best team while losing RT Terence Steele to a torn ACL. But expect a reboot with LT Tyron Smith on the comeback and newly signed WR T.Y. Hilton getting the nod over Odell Beckham to give the passing game a late-season shot in the arm.
Yahoo: 3 (LW: 2)
Similar story here.
I’ll give the Cowboys a pass, to some extent. The Cowboys didn’t seem to take the Texans seriously enough and it almost cost them a win. That happens, whether we like it or not. Still, Dallas needs to make sure that some issues weren’t exposed in that ugly win.
CBS Sports: 3 (LW: 3)
Pete Prisco kept his top four unchanged: Eagles, Bills, Cowboys, Chiefs in that order.
They beat the Texans, but it sure was ugly. They always seem to have a game or two like that. They can’t play like that against good teams.
The Athletic: 6 (LW: 5)
They also included a potential free agent target for every team.
Colts defensive end Yannick Ngakoue
How else to respond to Dallas losing its league lead in sacks than to make a strength even stronger? The Cowboys’ streak of 24 games with a sack ended in their fortunate escape versus the Texans, dropping them one sack behind the league-leading Eagles. This week’s trip to Jacksonville now looks a little more dangerous than it did a week ago if the Cowboys are going to maintain hope of catching Philadelphia in the actual standings. Dak Prescott led the 98-yard, game-winning drive but is coming off his worst set of back-to-back games this season by EPA (expected points added) per dropback. For what it’s worth, December has traditionally been the worst month of his career, per TruMedia, with lows in EPA per dropback, completion percentage and yards per attempt.
Sports Illustrated: 4 (LW: 2)
Very well-put here by Conor Orr.
We’re all getting a little too caught up in the extraneous (the Cowboys almost lost to the Texans) and are ignoring the obvious: When they needed big moments and a clinical, game-winning drive, it looked so second nature to the Cowboys. They looked entirely unfazed.