NFL Power Rankings, Week 11: Dallas Cowboys vault to No. 1

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Much hand-wringing the last few weeks over television ratings, watered-down product, limited marquee matchups -- essentially, football's version of doom and gloom.

Think Broncos at Saints, otherwise known as White Shoegate, answered the second problem up there? The last two minutes of that game would blow apart the best two minutes in the history of "The Walking Dead." Safe to say Cowboys at Steelers handled the ratings stress with aplomb. And while I admittedly was less excited for Seahawks at Patriots sans Marshawn Lynch, my interest ramped up as soon as I saw Tom Brady staring out over center at Bobby Wagner, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor.

Two other notes on the officiating from these games:

1) Saints fans had it rough Sunday. But I do like that replay officials aren't overturning unless they are 100 percent sure.

2) Gronk initiated the contact, even if ultimately he was interfered with. And that was not Tom Brady's best ball.

Now, on to your thoughts ...

Don't you worry about nothin'.

Scantron.

Fabs has worn his Cowboys road blue Randy White jersey for three days straight. He hasn't washed it.

And yes, on the subject of the No. 1 spot, I received many of your frantic tweets about a certain curse in these here parts. Welp, godspeed, Cowboys fans. For your thoughts on this change at the top -- or any other rankings-related matters -- hit me up here: @HarrisonNFL.

Let the dissension commence!

NOTE: The lineup below reflects changes from our Nov. 8 Power Rankings.

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1

8-1 COWBOYS

1

So I guess that question has been answered. Sunday's game at Heinz was similar to Dallas' win in Seattle in 2014, with fans across the country realizing the Cowboys are indeed for real. Dallas followed the blueprint we've come to expect this season: run Ezekiel Elliott between the tackles, try to get Dez Bryant involved, spell Zeke with Alfred Morris for a couple of series, play bend-but-don't-break defense and win in the kicking game. It was all there in an instant classic. Two X-factors that helped the 'Boys come out on top: the shining light that is Scott Linehan's play calling and the recent resurgence of Jason Witten in the clutch. Dak Prescott has learned where his bread is buttered when he needs 8 yards.

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2

6-2-1 SEAHAWKS

4

While many were breathlessly marveling over the improved play of a healthier Russell Wilson in Sunday's win at New England, I couldn't help but think about what an elite player Kam Chancellor is. During a time where we debate whether this quarterback or that quarterback is "elite," a guy like Chancellor deserves way more attention. Forget the non-call (the right call) on the fourth-and-goal throw to Gronk -- the hustle play Chancellor made down the line to grab LeGarrette Blount's feet as the Pats RB tried to dive over the pile won the game. Seriously: It won the damn game. It reminded me of the effort play Chancellor made against the Lions last year on "Monday Night Football," peeling off his man to belt Calvin Johnson at the goal line, force a fumble and essentially win that game. Chancellor is talented, football smart and, most emphatically, all heart.

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7-2 PATRIOTS

2

Small drop for New England, for obvious reasons. The Cowboys have won eight in a row, with their lone loss of the season having come by one point, in their rookie QB's first ever NFL start. Meanwhile, Seattle just beat the Patriots at their place, and flat out played better football in the process. While the Pats have only lost one game with Tom Brady, Sunday night was the first time in two months when Russell Wilson appeared healthy. One factor in the defeat might have been the absence of recently traded Jamie Collins, as Seattle did isolate Elandon Roberts in pass coverage a few times. It will be interesting to see how New England fares on defense without the now Cleveland Brown. Coming into Sunday night, the Pats were second in points per game allowed. Wilson put 31 on them at Gillette.

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7-2 CHIEFS

1

Eric Berry won the day in Carolina. What a play. The Chiefs blitzed Cam Newton right up the gut, and when the Panthers quarterback decided to shoot the ball up the seam, Berry read it beautifully from his center field spot. After catching the ball in mid-flight, he weaved and spun his way to the game's most important score. Now, while we hate to levy a tax on the #ChiefsKingdom, this dink-and-dunk stuff from Alex Smith isn't going to get Kansas City very far. He missed Chris Conley and Travis Kelce -- both wide open -- on vertical throws that would have been certain touchdowns.

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5

7-2 RAIDERS

Last week, I said I'd compare this group to the last Raider team that won it all: the 1983 Los Angeles Raiders. That season represented one of my early years watching pro football, and I rooted hardcore with my brothers for the underdog Raiders to trounce the high flyin' Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII. They did, 38-9. Al Davis' team was coached by Tom Flores, who remains criminally underrated to this day. As nice a job as Jack Del Rio has done, I would give the coaching advantage to the '83 Raiders. And here's how the rosters stack up against each other, in my estimation:

QB: 2016 Raiders. Derek Carr has been far more productive -- with less negative plays -- than Jim Plunkett. Oh, but I love Plunkett.
RB: 1983 Raiders. Marcus Allen. Come on.
WR/TE: 2016. Would be a landside if just receivers (with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree), but TE Todd Christensen led the NFL in catches in 1983.
OL: 2016. They've been unbelievable in pass pro.
DL: 1983. Howie Long, Lyle Alzado, Bill Pickel and Greg Townsend. Nice.
LB: 1983. Rod Martin and Ted Hendricks were in the Pro Bowl. Matt Millen: solid.
DB: 1983. Lester Hayes and Mike Haynes, dude.
Special teams: Push. Kicker Chris Bahr was mediocre in '83, as Sebastian Janikowski is this year. Marquette King is better than Ray Guy was late in his HOF career. Greg Pruitt was a Pro Bowl returner in '83.

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6

7-3 BRONCOS

1

The Broncos pulled out what was Sunday's most exciting early game. Thought the replay official did a nice job not overturning the call on the returned extra point. Initially, I believed the refs missed a defensive holding call on the center that allowed Justin Simmons to leap and block the extra point in the first place ... but no! Turns out the Broncos followed the law of the land, as explained by NFL officiating czar Dean Blandino. (Learn something new every day!) How Bradley Roby let Brandin Cooks catch that ball ...

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6-3 GIANTS

2

The G-Men started a trend Monday night that they hope to continue. Well, a few, actually. First, not circling the toilet bowl to start the second half of the 2016 season. Under Tom Coughlin, the Giants went 40-56 during the second half ( Super Bowl wins notwithstanding). Second, New York produced some semblance of a running game Monday night. Lastly, how about those sacks on consecutive plays on the Bengals' last-gasp drive? Getting the quarterback down, with the ball still in his hand, has been rarer than an Eli Manning interception-free game. Hey, what do you think: NFC East = AFC West? ( @HarrisonNFL)

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8

5-4 LIONS

The Lions were off last week, but thanks to losses by the Vikings and Packers, Detroit jumped into first place in the NFC North. I placed the Honolulu Blue above Washington here based on a head-to-head win and the fact that they've been in every game they've played. I was asked on Twitter why the Redskins, at 4-3-1 heading into Week 10, were ahead in the wild-card race. Better winning percentage. All the bye weeks and ties that you guys love so much seriously mess with the standings. Watching the Lions' run game messes with my brain.

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9

5-3-1 REDSKINS

6

Huge, huge, huge win for the Redskins on Sunday. So often we see teams come out of the bye week flat. And although it might have looked that way early at FedEx, this football team that no one's paying attention to won with efficient quarterback play (Kirk Cousins: 22 of 33, 262 yards and two TD) and clutch defense in the end. Heckuva win. In other news, where are all those fans who angrily tweeted me in August claiming Matt Jones would be awesome in 2016? #healthyscratch

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10

5-4 EAGLES

Every single NFC East team won in Week 10. Loved the way Jim Schwartz's defense competed -- again -- in leading Philly to the win. For all the love given to Carson Wentz, the reality is that he threw no touchdown passes and averaged well under 7 yards per throw. Not disparaging him at all, but right now he is closer to game manager than Norm Van Brocklin.

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11

6-4 FALCONS

7

The highlight shows provided everyone with slow-mo of Julio Jones dropping that football on fourth down, but Jones' gaffe (?) did not lose that football game in Philly on Sunday. Like it or not, this is who Atlanta is. Now that we have a 10-week catalogue with the Falcons, here's what we know:

A) The defense will not finish in the top 20 in the league (429 yards allowed Sunday).
B) The Falcons win when Matt Ryan plays out of his mind, or the running backs go nuts.

Neither happened Sunday.

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12

5-4 DOLPHINS

5

Wow. The Dolphins' defense came out of nowhere to deliver four fourth-quarter takeaways to an offense in need Sunday. Don't misunderstand: Miami's offense wasn't awful. The Chargers contained Jay Ajayi, while Adam Gase's game plan did not call for Ryan Tannehill to air it out. That's why Kiko Alonso's long interception return for a touchdown ultimately decided the outcome. Maybe people aren't buying into Miami right now, but a team that can run the football and force turnovers always has a chance in December/January, when the competition and weather get rougher.

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13

6-3 TEXANS

1

The Texans held on in Jacksonville, staying ahead of the Titans (5-5) in the AFC South while maintaining a perfect division record (3-0). Brock Osweiler's stat line once again invoked groans: 14 for 27, 99 yards and two touchdowns. Getting two scoring tosses is always nice, but 99 yards on that many attempts? Horrific. The defense did its part, shutting down the Jacksonville run game and making the Jags' offense one-dimensional (otherwise known as Blake Bortles garbage time -- he's darn-near branded it). Will Houston's defense and Lamar Miller be enough to take the division? The Texans visit the Titans on New Year's.

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14

4-4-1 CARDINALS

1

Not the emphatic win everyone anticipated, but Arizona will take it. At this point, Cardinals fans have figured out (or should figure out) that this season will be a struggle. These are the halcyon days of parity, and the key is to stay with the Seahawks until Arizona travels to the Pacific Northwest on Christmas Eve. (That game should be fun. Maybe it will be 3-3 this time.) As far as Sunday's game is concerned for the Cards -- you know, when they almost let Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers take them to OT -- maybe we should forget it ever happened. Next up: at reeling Minnesota.

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15

5-4 RAVENS

4

Another big win for the Ravens. By that, I am not implying the Browns are (or were) a threat in the AFC North. That said, how many teams this season -- other than the best club in each conference -- have played down to Cleveland? Baltimore did what playoff teams are supposed to do: beat the struggling clubs by multiple touchdowns. Oh, before we go, yes, that was a running game you saw from the Ravens on Thursday. #supermoon

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16

5-4 VIKINGS

5

Not a complete freefall here, given the two close losses in a row, but a sizable drop nonetheless. Once again, the offensive line's faults will be underlined. Perhaps not totally fair, but the pressure on Sam Bradford coming from left tackle on the final play was suffocating. Preston Smith galloped around Jake Long replacement Jeremiah Sirles like he was __________________ (insert almost any Vikings lineman here). If you consider that a harsh assessment, grab a telescope and look for the ground "attack." The RBs combined for 36 yards on 20 carries. Where art thou, Gary Zimmerman?

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17

4-5 BILLS

1

Healing time. Really, that's what the bye week amounted to for this group. Sure, the off weekend provided additional opportunity for OC Anthony Lynn and DC Dennis Thurman to review what's not working. At the end of the day, though, Rex Ryan's team has been as banged-up as anybody, for as long as anybody. That starts with LeSean McCoy, who has to get that hamstring 100 percent right for the Bills to have a chance. And Sammy Watkins could be back in two weeks. Look, for years now, we've become accustomed to this team being mediocre, having no quarterback or being the victim of general sucking. But after a lifetime of Trent Edwards and J.P. Losman games, the Bills have a QB, as well as a lighter schedule. #BillsMafia

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18

4-5 STEELERS

2

The Steelers have been the NFL's most herky-jerky ballclub this season, with Sunday's loss the latest installment in a roller coaster of a campaign. Dallas at Pittsburgh delivered not only the game of the weekend, but maybe of 2016. Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown were all brilliant. The issue is that they were playing the best team in the NFC. The difficult thing to know is how excited to get over the productivity of the offense, given that the Cowboys were playing without three starters in the defensive backfield in the second half. That said, I felt Pittsburgh was impressive enough to merit being taken out of the doghouse, i.e., Spot No. 20.

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19

4-6 CHARGERS

3

Philip Rivers took it on the chin in the fourth quarter -- and owned it in the postgame. Rivers mentioned that he knew his teammates rely on him to make plays and alluded to the fact he let his locker room down. I've long carried a shield with a Philip Rivers fathead on it, and I'm not about to stop now. San Diego doesn't have a chance without him. Not to mention -- but we'll mention -- his outside receivers are Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman and Griff Whalen. Awful game for the franchise quarterback, no doubt. And I'll bet you a bad#%@ seafood dinner at Poseidon that he rebounds after this week's bye. Oh, and the answer to your question five sentences ago: I got it at a Renaissance Festival with some chainmail.

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20

5-5 TITANS

4

Statement game for the Titans, right? Or, like so many startling outcomes in 2016 ( 49ers over Rams, Saints over Seahawks, among numerous others), was it merely an anomaly ... again? Is Mike Mularkey's group the team that got roughed up in Week 1 by the Shaun Hill-led Vikings, the team that ran all over the Dolphins, the team that imploded in San Diego or the team that just blasted the Packers? They're Oliver Stone's IMDB page, at this point: "JFK" ... or ... "Alexander." Nice game, Marcus.

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21

4-5 PACKERS

9

Don't be looking to the Power Rankings for guidance here. Green Bay looked terrible in Nashville. Turrrabull. Aaron Rodgers and his receivers weren't on the same page late. Mike McCarthy, Rodgers and company employed the ground attack for all of 13 rushing attempts. The Titans converted on half of their third-down attempts, while Marcus Mariota probably put up a 2,000 QBR. (I have no idea how that thing is calculated.) A nine-spot drop probably feels harsh, huh? Well, the Packers have been handled by the Colts and Titans in consecutive weeks. I have no idea what to make of this group anymore.

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22

4-5 SAINTS

League analysts kept saying the Saints could upend the Broncos, and we all saw why Sunday. If not for Steelers at Cowboys and Seahawks at Patriots later in the day, this would have been the game of the weekend. As expected, Drew Brees' quick release and decision making often mitigated the vaunted Denver pass rush. The Broncos' defense won its share of battles, too. Yet, who couldn't hoot and holler when Brees uncorked that heave to Brandin Cooks in traffic to tie the game? Unreal. Then, to lose the way New Orleans did was heartbreaking. Given the Saints' win in San Diego, maybe the luck meter is even-steven now. Sean Payton's outfit is down, but with the Falcons' and Panthers' losses, far from out.

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23

3-5-1 BENGALS

2

After an ugly endgame scenario, the Bengals are 3-5-1, still searching for answers. The close road loss at New York isn't as much of a concern as the team's overall inability to make plays in the final five minutes of just about any game this season. Taking sacks on consecutive plays on the final drive felt like London game 2.0 for one Andy Dalton. Then there was Vontaze Burfict getting caught inside -- the wrong side of "inside" -- on Rashad Jennings' first-down run on third-and-5. Making a sixth postseason in a row must start with beating the rested Bills.

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24

4-5 COLTS

1

Another bye team from last weekend, which was a little unfortunate, given that the Colts were coming off what was easily their best performance of the season in Green Bay. While you'd hate to see whatever momentum that was gained at Lambeau lost, I've always felt the midseason bye (Week 8, 9 or 10) is typically the most beneficial. Get healthy for the stretch run, not after Week 3, when most of your roster is still in good shape. Next up: Titans. Oh, man is that an important game for both teams. #AFCSouthfootball #getexcited

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25

4-5 RAMS

1

At 4-5, the Rams aren't going away. Another win delivered by the defense, which certainly played well enough to win in London, before shutting down the Panthers and Jets. In fact, Los Angeles has only allowed 29 offensive points over the last three games. Major individual props go to linebackers Alec Ogletree, who sealed Sunday's game by getting inside of Quincy Enunwa to make the game-saving interception in East Rutherford. The Rams travelled 2,500 miles across the country, stole the road win, and now are home to face the red-hot Dolphins. (Aqua-hot?)

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26

4-5 BUCCANEERS

1

If you call up Randall Cunningham's signature play in the NFL -- a 95-yard duck, scramble and heave to Fred Barnett back in 1990 -- you might recognize it. Not because you love NFL Films -- although, let's face it, you do -- but rather because you saw it in Tampa on Sunday. How the heck did Jameis Winston complete that throw to Mike Evans? ( Sheeesh. How in the hell did Mike Evans catch that ball?) Winston was dealin' Sunday.

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27

3-6 PANTHERS

2

"That's as bad a loss as I've had in 10 years in this league."
-- Greg Olsen following Sunday's 20-17 loss to Kansas City -- a game Carolina once led 17-0.

Olsen's been working this tight end gig for a decade, and although he wouldn't say anything about it, he was probably as surprised as many of us when the Panthers didn't take a knee -- and thus send the game into overtime -- that deep, that late, in their own territory. The key play of the game wasn't Marcus Peters' strip that set up the game-winning field goal. It was Cam Newton throwing the ball up for grabs with a 17-6 lead in the fourth quarter. Pick-six.

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28

2-7 BEARS

How is it that John Fox's group, after pummeling the Vikings and getting rested up on a bye, could look this blahhhhhhdafaafqavaedfvfadevewgqvdfavadf? Jay Cutler was ... was ... was ... wasn't any good, I can tell you that. The defense tried to hang tough in the first half, only to have the offense keep turning it over. By late in the third quarter, it didn't feel like a contest, even if the Bears were within two scores. At least Chicago made up for it by going 2-for-11 on third down. The Bears lost by 26 to a team that allowed 73 points in the prior two weeks. Hey, we don't want to be this way. Here are some Jordan Howard highlights.

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29

3-7 JETS

Jets fans got what they wanted. Annnnnnnd Bryce Petty played like a guy the coaching staff was reluctant to start, missing a few easy throws while forcing one late that was picked off by Alec Ogletree. It was second-and-7, coming directly out of the two-minute warning. It appeared Petty looked at Quincy Enunwa second, without staring him down, but failed to notice Ogletree glued to his receiver's hip -- saying nothing of the fact the ball was thrown to the inside when it should've been directed away from coverage. Maybe it sounds counterintuitive, but Ryan Fitzpatrick provides the Jets their best chance to win. He also went to Harvard.

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30

2-7 JAGUARS

Another ugly outing camouflaged by a late charge from the offense. (Well, it's hard to imagine the Jags' uniforms obscuring anything.) The research on Blake Bortles is startling. His production from Quarters 1 through 3: seven touchdowns, eight interceptions, 71.3 passer rating. Fourth quarter: nine touchdowns, three interceptions, 96.6 passer rating. They say games are won or lost in the fourth quarter. Not in this case.

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31

1-8 49ERS

Athletic pride is a tricky thing to decipher. Right when you think a football team is mailing it in, or someone is "done," NFL players rise up and deliver. We offer up lame explanations, such as It was a trap game! for the better team -- in this case, the Cardinals -- but that rings hollow. I bet Colin Kaepernick cares how he plays. Ditto all those guys on defense, whom everyone predicted would let David Johnson run for 320 yards. The stud RB couldn't even muster 3 yards per carry. Kap averaged 5.5. San Francisco also forced four turnovers. It wasn't enough, but there is something to be said for honest effort.

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32

0-10 BROWNS

For the second straight week, unfortunately, we can't talk about how the winless Browns don't resemble their record. They do. Cleveland has been outscored over the last two games by 46 points combined. With that being said, getting blown out doesn't mean the 0-10 season carries no potential value. How about fully seeing what you have in Cody Kessler? As much as I like Josh McCown as a player and person, think Hue Jackson should have kept Kessler under center Thursday night. The rookie wasn't playing poorly, and Cleveland ain't running the table.

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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