In some ways the offseason felt like it took forever, in others it felt like it flew by. Ultimately, it is over and that is the news worth celebrating.
Another NFL season is indeed upon us and odds are that it will provide opportunities for us to experience great joy as well as great devastation. This is the life that we have chosen though, and one that we embrace with great vigor every September.
Ahead of every week (normally on Tuesdays) we will provide a look at the state of the league through the lens of power rankings. We will also collect power rankings from across the internet to see how other are viewing the Cowboys at that moment in time, but that phase of things will begin next week once power rankings are rocking and rolling everywhere.
For now these are our rankings for us to reference moving forward.
Welcome to Week 1.
1 - Los Angeles Rams
When you raise a banner you are the best until proven otherwise.
2 - Buffalo Bills
The hype is very real for the Bills this year. They came close in 2021, went after Von Miller, and seem hellbent on going the distance this season. It starts on Thursday night.
It feels like all of the energy surrounding other AFC teams has allowed the Chiefs to fly under the radar. Losing Tyreek Hill is significant, don’t get me wrong, but they still have Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Andy Reid... they’ll be fine.
I’m a bit more bearish on the Bengals than most people. I wouldn’t say I think last season was a mirage or anything, I just want to see more. So here we go.
Losing Davante Adams is a very big deal, but so is having the reigning back-to-back MVP on your team in Aaron Rodgers.
This does feel like the most weak version of Tom Brady’s Buccaneers in some time; however, he did not un-retire because he thinks they will just be alright.
So much of this NFL season as a whole hangs in the balance of Trey Lance taking a step or regressing. As we know full well, Kyle Shanahan will usually find a way no matter what.
8 - Baltimore Ravens
Like the Cowboys in 2020 (San Francisco as well) the Ravens lost a ton of games due to injury last season and yet they were still the number one seed in the AFC in December. Regression is going to help them out substantially in that department whether Lamar Jackson has a new contract or not. I am very high on Baltimore this year.
9 - Dallas Cowboys
We all know the drill here. There is a path where this works out. There are many where it does not. Which one has the team ultimately chosen?
10 - Philadelphia Eagles
Everyone in the world seems to think highly of the way that their offseason has gone. There is no denying that they have done some impressive things but if Jalen Hurts is not legitimate then isn’t it all for not? We will see.
11 - Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert is amazing. But the love affair for the Chargers seems to overlook a lot of things like how they lost three of their last four games a year ago (including one to the lowly Houston Texans). Again though, Justin Herbert is amazing.
12 - Minnesota Vikings
My most “what is he thinking?!” take this year is easily how high I am on the Minnesota Vikings. Kirk Cousins finished sixth last season in PFF’s overall offensive grade and fourth in passing specifically. He also finished sixth in Football Outsiders’ DYAR metric. And now he has a head coach who doesn’t hate him and who understand his strengths and more specifically is willing to actually use them.
Cousins with Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Co., give me all of it.
13 - Denver Broncos
Obviously they traded for Russell Wilson, but who is Nathaniel Hackett? Is this really going to work? They are clearly going to be better, but how much?
14 - Las Vegas Raiders
Similar to Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr is somewhat underrated. Davante Adams is easily the best receiver that he has ever had and the Raiders should in no way have to deal with the off-the-field things that encircled them a year ago. Obviously the division is tough, though.
15 - Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals have had a lot of bad energy surrounding them this offseason. They finished 2021 quite poorly (of course they beat the Cowboys though) and did very little to improve on paper.
16 - Tennessee Titans
This year’s Titans have to be one of the least-impressive returning number one seeds in recent memory. Their offseason felt very similar to Dallas’ in that they traded away A.J. Brown although at least they received fair compensation for him.
Will Malik Turner play for them? Perhaps by Week 17 when the Cowboys visit?
17 - Indianapolis Colts
Listeners of the NFC East Mixtape will know that I am not fond of the Colts. In no way do I think that Carson Wentz is an elite or even “good” quarterback right now, but the way that Indy went out of their way to blame him for all of their struggles last year felt really unkind.
Wentz finished ahead of Ryan in FO’s DYAR metric but behind him in PFF’s passing grade. The difference feels negligible to me. If anything Ryan is less of an athlete (as far as running ability) than Wentz is. This isn’t 2016 anymore.
18 - New Orleans Saints
There is a lot of hype surrounding the Saints for reasons that are difficult to figure out.
Sean Payton is out (did you know the Cowboys have thought about him before?!?!) and Jameis Winston is back. So is Michael Thomas. That defense is good, but what is there to be impressed by?
19 - Pittsburgh Steelers
Kenny Pickett will definitely start at some point, right?
This team is weird but Mike Tomlin deserves the benefit of the doubt.
20 - New England Patriots
Much has been made about who the play-caller is for the Patriots, but on the subject of benefit of the doubt, does Bill Belichick not also have it? I recognize the last two years have not been part of the glory days but color me interested.
21 - Miami Dolphins
This sort of feels like the AFC version of the Eagles. If the quarterback play is solid then there is an obvious path towards legitimacy, but that if proposition is one encircling NFL teams on an annual basis.
22 - Washington Commanders
Carson Wentz, Terry McLaurin, and Jahan Dotson... that sounds not too bad!
23 - Jacksonville Jaguars
It is going to be fascinating to see Doug Pederson away from Philadelphia, Trevor Lawrence with an adult at head coach, Travis Etienne in general, and all of this hopefully singing in harmony.
24 - Carolina Panthers
Are there any Baker Mayfield truthers out there?
25 - Detroit Lions
There was a lot of Hard Knocks love working in favor of the Lions, but there is still not a ton to believe in as far as talent on the field. Maybe this project works out in the overall but it is hard to see here in 2022 specifically.
26 - Cleveland Browns
Nobody likes them.
27 - Seattle Seahawks
Can Pete Carroll do this all by himself?
28 - Houston Texans
On a recent episode over at The SB Nation NFL Show I talked about how I can see the Texans winning the AFC South.
I recognize how that sounds, but is it not impossible? Davis Mills is functional, Brandin Cooks is underrated, Dameon Pierce appears to be the real deal... and the rest of the division is meh. There is a path!
29 - Chicago Bears
Really hoping that Matt Eberflus can put it together, but this roster is rough.
30 - New York Jets
Zach Wilson is going to miss the first four weeks but thankfully Joe Flacco is here to rescue the J-E-T-S.
31 - New York Giants
Prove us wrong. Until then welcome to the 30s.
32 - Atlanta Falcons
It is hard to see things not being flat for them all year.