Let’s be serious for a moment here. And I have to kick the really over-the-top crazy Dallas Cowboys fans out of the room now so we can have a real conversation.
OK, good. Now … what in the heck is going on in Dallas?
Look, you didn’t see this coming, I didn’t see this coming, nobody did. But now there’s no getting around it: The Dallas Cowboys look good. They look great. Had Tony Romo not made some big Week 1 mistakes against the 49ers, they might be 4-0 with some quality wins. I just don’t know how we got here.
The Cowboys didn’t add much in the offseason, and the defense lost Jason Hatcher, DeMarcus Ware and Sean Lee. Romo was coming off back surgery. They’ve been the epitome of mediocre for years. All of a sudden, they’re good. Logically, it makes little sense.
Sunday night’s dominant win over the Saints was their statement that they’re for real. Now, “for real” comes and goes in the NFL in 2014 as quickly as Jon Gruden compliments a mundane play on “Monday Night Football.” Teams look great one week and incompetent seven days later. Nothing is permanent. But right now, the Cowboys deserve a huge bump up the rankings. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli would be my coach of the year vote at this point. He has been that good. The Cowboys’ offense have reinvented itself by building around DeMarco Murray and a great run-blocking offensive line. They deserve all the credit you can give them.
I guess that’s the beauty of the NFL. Things that are completely unforeseen can actually happen. We’re seeing it in Dallas.
Here are the post-Week 4 power rankings:
32. Oakland Raiders (0-4, LW: 31)
Head coach Dennis Allen got fired, and general manager Reggie McKenzie can’t be far behind. Remember, they have the oldest roster in the NFL. Bad, bad, bad.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4, LW: 30)
No one player is going to totally turn this team around, not even a huge upgrade at quarterback. They’re just not good at all. But they’re also very young and you’d assume they’ll improve as this season goes on.
30. Washington Redskins (1-3, LW: 28)
Or maybe I was right to be skeptical of Kirk Cousins.
29. Tennessee Titans (1-3, LW: 23)
How in the world did they look so good at Kansas City in Week 1? That’s the weirdest result of the NFL season so far, right?
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3, LW: 32)
Please tell me Lovie Smith is just trolling everyone by saying he doesn’t know if Mike Glennon will continue at quarterback. That has got to be a joke. Please say it’s a joke.
27. St. Louis Rams (1-2, LW: 27)
Listen to this upcoming stretch: at Philadelphia, vs. San Francisco, vs. Seattle, at Kansas City, at San Francisco, at Arizona, vs. Denver, at San Diego. Oh, boy.
26. New York Jets (1-3, LW: 19)
Remember folks: The Michael Vick you’d be getting bears no resemblance to the Michael Vick you fondly remember. That Vick hasn’t been around for a while.
25. Cleveland Browns (1-2, LW: 24)
A game at Tennessee this week is a must win if we’re to take them seriously.
24. Buffalo Bills (2-2, LW: 18)
I don’t agree with benching EJ Manuel. If it’s close (and while Manuel hasn’t been good, we all know Kyle Orton won’t be good either), then you go with the young guy and hope he improves. There’s no upside with Orton, now or later.
23. New York Giants (2-2, LW: 29)
I guess they’re good again? I don’t know, but something has dramatically changed in the last two weeks.
22. Minnesota Vikings (2-2, LW: 26)
Imagine how good they’ll be when they remember it’s legal to call plays specifically to get Cordarrelle Patterson the ball.
21. Houston Texans (3-1, LW: 22)
J.J. Watt is your NFL MVP at the quarter pole. He’ll never win because there’s a rule the MVP has to be a quarterback or running back, but he’s the best player in the game right now.
20. Atlanta Falcons (2-2, LW: 15)
Not sure how a team can play that well at home and that poorly on the road.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2, LW: 17)
There’s no more up-and-down team in the NFL this season. That probably doesn’t reflect well on Mike Tomlin.
18. Miami Dolphins (2-2, LW: 21)
It’ll be interesting to see if Ryan Tannehill and Joe Philbin can co-exist going forward. Not sure how Tannehill can trust him again.
17. New Orleans Saints (1-3, LW: 9)
If the Saints were 1-3 because the defense regressed significantly, it wouldn’t surprise me. It does surprise me that the offense has looked pretty average.
16. Carolina Panthers (2-2, LW: 8)
No healthy running backs, a bad offensive line and a beat up Cam Newton is not a good formula for them moving the ball.
15. New England Patriots (2-2, LW: 4)
I hate to overreact to small sample sizes, but you can’t help but wonder if the loss at Kansas City was the sign that the Patriots dynasty is over. It was that bad. Tom Brady just looks like a different player than we’re used to seeing. I just didn’t believe it could be happening that fast.
14. Kansas City Chiefs (2-2, LW: 25)
Totally dominant on Monday night. Again, what the heck happened in that Week 1 loss to Tennessee?
13. San Francisco 49ers (2-2, LW: 14)
They needed that win badly, but they still didn’t look very good. They still look uncharacteristically sloppy.
12. Chicago Bears (2-2, LW: 13)
Players don’t change after eight seasons. There was no reason to believe Jay Cutler’s ninth season would be any different, other than he’s collecting a bigger paycheck.
11. Baltimore Ravens (3-1, LW: 16)
Steve Smith, wow. Carolina did have good reason to think he didn’t have this in him anymore. But Smith’s resurgence sure makes the Panthers look stupid.
10. Dallas Cowboys (3-1, LW: 20)
On second thought, never mind about Marinelli for coach of the year. With the job he’s doing, let’s do Marinelli for President.
9. Detroit Lions (3-1, LW: 12)
Sunday’s win showed they might be handling success a little better. Maybe they’ve finally matured.
8. Green Bay Packers (2-2, LW: 10)
Still skeptical about the defense, but if Aaron Rodgers plays like he does on Sunday the Packers can beat anyone. That was one impressive performance at Chicago.
7. Indianapolis Colts (2-2, LW: 7)
Reggie Wayne went for seven catches, 119 yards and a touchdown last week. Can’t say I was sure he was going to rebound like this after ACL surgery.
6. San Diego Chargers (3-1, LW: 11)
I’m giving them a decent bump because I’m correcting a mistake. They should have been higher earlier. This is a really good team with a really good coach.
5. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1, LW: 5)
It’s tough to function as usual when the offensive line is missing as many good players as they are.
4. Arizona Cardinals (3-0, LW: 6)
Will be interesting if Todd Bowles’ super-aggressive defensive approach works against blitzmaster Peyton Manning.
3. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0, LW: 3)
Cincinnati at New England in Week 5 is quite an interesting game for both teams.
2. Denver Broncos (2-1, LW: 2)
At some point Demaryius Thomas will break out of this slump. They’re doing fine despite it.
1. Seattle Seahawks (2-1, LW: 1)
Not sure I like Kirk Cousins’ chances next week against this defense coming off a bye.
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