Somehow, some way, we made it. Welcome to Week 1, friends.
At long last the 2023 NFL season is set to begin and as it does so does our normal run of conversations around here. Soon enough we will have an actual Dallas Cowboys game to break down and (hopefully not) fret over, but until then we can only forecast and predict.
That is the main element of our first power rankings of the year. While we are going a lot off of who these teams have been/where over the last year, we all know that much is going to change in the coming months.
These will drop every Tuesday here at BTB and will also feature a curation of where other places around the internet have the Cowboys ranked.
Here’s to Week 1!
The kings are the kings until someone takes the crown.
Plus, you know, Patrick Mahomes is amazing.
If there is a non-Chiefs team that I trust to be inevitable these days it is Joe Burrow’s Bengals.
It appears very likely that the Eagles will regress a bit, but even if they do they will still likely be very good. For now, it is more than fair to keep them here.
4 - Buffalo Bills
Truth be told I think it is highly likely that the Bills take a step back this year. They did nothing except draft Dalton Kincaid (an argument we had around here) in terms of adding to their skill positions. But that is a hypothesis that remains to be proven correct.
5 - Dallas Cowboys
This is a very good team that got better over the offseason in important ways. Simply put, it is time to put up or shut up.
The Nick Bosa situation is suddenly very real and relevant given that we have arrived at Week 1. That is why they have bumped down below Dallas for me.
7 - Baltimore Ravens
I’m so excited to watch the Ravens this year. Bring on all of the offense.
Time will tell if Kellen Moore can be successful outside of Dallas. He is well-positioned in terms of personnel to have every opportunity to do it.
The Vikings are a team that it is cool to hate, but they have the best wide receiver in the NFL and a quarterback who is way over-hated. None of the pieces that they “lost” over the offseason seemed consequential plus they added Jordan Addison in the draft. I believe.
10 - Miami Dolphins
Personally I am fine not believing in the Dolphins and having them prove me wrong. The talent is there and they are well-coached. I suppose we will see if this holds.
11 - Seattle Seahawks
They are a sleeper in the NFC West. Everything revolves around Geno Smith not regressing.
12 - Jacksonville Jaguars
The end of last season was very special, but the beginning was not.
Who are they?
13 - Detroit Lions
This is the boat I am in no way in. It feels like people really want Detroit to be great. But you cannot will it into existence.
14 - Cleveland Browns
A lot of people are buying in on the talent here.
15 - New York Jets
While the hype is very high they still have to prove it as valid. But the Jets obviously have quite the ceiling in 2023. We’ll see them next week.
16 - New York Giants
It was inevitable that the easy run of dominance over the G-Men would end, and while they are no longer an afterthought, they have yet to beat a Dak Prescott-led Cowboys team since he was a rookie.
17 - Pittsburgh Steelers
Allow me to say that this is the team I believe in most ranked outside of the top half. The Steelers have very strong potential this year, we are just at a place where everything is barely getting started.
18 - New Orleans Saints
While I don’t believe in the Saints as much I think they could have more wins than teams like the Steelers in 2023 by virtue of their schedule. Life could be good for New Orleans this year.
19 - Las Vegas Raiders
Do we really believe that Josh McDaniels is on the hot seat?
Ron Rivera definitely is. But remember that they flirted with a playoff spot last year.
21 - Atlanta Falcons
If Desmond Ridder can get it together the skill positions can do a lot to carry him.
22 - Green Bay Packers
Seeing the Jordan Love era unfold will be fascinating.
23 - Denver Broncos
Who else is happy to not have Sean Payton around?
24 - Tennessee Titans
Mike Vrabel is an amazing coach and I am willing to believe in that. But the Titans are very questionable.
25 - New England Patriots
The Patriots have become all sorts of boring.
26 - Chicago Bears
Hopefully Justin Fields can lead our old friend Matt Eberflus’ squad.
27 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Easily the division winner from last year least likely to repeat.
28 - Houston Texans
They have an incredibly young nucleus that will learn and grow together.
29 - Carolina Panthers
At least we get to see Bryce Young.
30 - Indianapolis Colts
They seem so hopeless. Maybe Anthony Richardson can change that.
31 - Los Angeles Rams
32 - Arizona Cardinals
Blah. But worse.
NFL.com: 6 (LW: N/A)
Just outside of the top five.
The big news was the unexpected trade for Trey Lance — and what it ultimately means for Dak Prescott. Whatever ends up happening, the move feels like a worthy one, with Lance now able to develop behind the scenes. The opportunity to become Prescott’s backup in 2024 could be there. Perhaps Prescott’s future negotiations will help put Lance in a spot where he could one day become the Cowboys’ starter. But there seems to be a healthy dose of optimism with Prescott and the “Texas Coast” offense this season, to the point where I am buying in.
ESPN: None ahead of Week 1 (LW: N/A)
USA Today: None ahead of Week 1 (LW: N/A)
Yahoo: 6 (LW: N/A)
Also outside of the top five.
The Cowboys’ No. 2 running back spot is still a concern. Rico Dowdle was Tony Pollard’s primary backup in the preseason, but he has never played in a regular-season game. Rookie Deuce Vaughn had some nice plays in preseason, and while he’s exciting it’s hard to see him being an every-down back if Pollard misses time. Dallas could still be checking out veteran free-agent depth as the season gets going.
CBS Sports: 10 (LW: N/A)
All the way down at double digits.
This is the pressure year for Dak Prescott and Mike McCarthy. The pressure is on both in a big way. Will Prescott handle it in big games? If he doesn’t, there will be changes next season.
The Athletic: 7 (LW: N/A)
For what it is worth they had the Jaguars at five.
Model rank: T-6 (10.3 wins)
Best-case scenario: Brandin Cooks and a revitalized Michael Gallup keep opposing defenses from being able to key in on CeeDee Lamb as much as they’d like, and Dak Prescott’s interception rate returns to the level it was through the first six years of his career (1.7 percent) instead of its outlier high in 2022 (3.8 percent), giving the Cowboys the best passing offense in the NFC. Micah Parsons tops 20 sacks and wins Defensive Player of the Year. Jerry Jones returns to the Super Bowl for the first time since the onset of mad cow disease.
Worst-case scenario: An offensive line that features three players either over 30 or coming off major injuries craters, and Cooks’ addition to the offense makes little difference. Parsons remains a one-man wrecking crew, but the rest of the defense regresses as DeMarcus Lawrence and Stephon Gilmore look their ages and Trevon Diggs’ aggressiveness comes back to bite him. The Yankees, Lakers and Duke men’s basketball all miss the postseason, too.
Sports Illustrated: 8 (LW: N/A)
One spot down.
No jokes here, but just a place to include a few kind words about Cowboys legend Gil Brandt. Gil was an integral part of the team’s success as both a franchise and a global brand. He was an innovator and as keen a football mind as you’ll come across. He was also such a kind soul. He will be missed.
Dallas comes into our initial poll at No. 8, just on the heels of the Eagles in the NFC East. I have the Cowboys projected as my eventual division champion this year, though the real proof will be in how Dak Prescott acclimates to what I imagine will be a more formulaic and lower-wattage offensive system. This could end up being good for Prescott, who will let the playmakers speak for themselves and take some pressure off himself.