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Tuesday, October 11, 2011
NFL Power Rankings: Redskins crack top 10

By Dan Graziano

Oh yeah, it's Power Rankings day here at ESPN.com, and you're dying to know how your NFC East teams have fared in this week's poll. Well, the two teams that actually played Sunday ... not so good. The two teams that had the week off saw a little bump up the rankings. Yes, it seems that one of the best things you can do right now if you play in the NFC East is not play.

Here's a look at how our four teams stand in the latest edition of the Power Rankings:

10. Washington Redskins (Last week: 12). The bye was good to Washington, as four of the teams that had been in front of them lost and they jumped up two spots into the league's top 10. Not a bad spot for a team that began the season ranked 28th in this poll. Now, when the Giants were here last week, I expressed some mild skepticism about their ability to hold the spot. I feel somewhat the same about Washington, though not as strongly. They run the ball better than the Giants do, and they play better defense. Their offense is intentionally vanilla, but they've committed the fewest penalties in the league and are second in the league in average time of possession. Basically, if everyone around them keeps being so wildly inconsistent, I like the Redskins' chances to stay steady and take advantage of that. Right now, I'd probably rank the Raiders and Texans higher, and maybe the Titans. And the Cowboys did beat them, so you could make that case, too. But that's nitpicking, and I'm not a voter, so it doesn't matter what I think. The Redskins are a top-10 team in the Power Rankings, so enjoy that, Skins fans.

14. New York Giants (10). The Giants and the Cowboys tied for the No. 14 spot in this week's poll, but the Giants win the tiebreaker by virtue of their better win-loss record. Mike Sando in particular really took that Sunday game to heart, as he's got the Giants ranked 19th and the Seahawks 17th. But this mid-pack range seems more like where the Giants belong than did last week's top-10 heights. They've shown plenty of heart and toughness in their wins, but until they start running the ball better on offense and stopping the run better on defense, they're going to be too inconsistent week-to-week.

15. Dallas Cowboys (17). Dallas didn't play, but it moves up two spots thanks to poor games by the Buccaneers and Jets. I'd probably rank them ahead of the Giants right now if I had to make that call, since I think they've generally played better even though the records say otherwise. But I don't feel especially strongly about it. I'm fascinated to see how they come out of the bye and play in New England, where no one ever wins regular-season games. If they put up a good fight this Sunday, and they come out of the game healthy, I think Dallas is in a good position to make a strong run the rest of the way. The schedule isn't bad and they've shown an ability to play with good teams.

21. Philadelphia Eagles (20). I mean, I've seen four of their five games in person. They have plenty of athletic talent, but they just don't play the game of football especially well. And I really think that's going to hold them back. John Clayton still has them up at 18, which inflates this ranking a bit. But right now they're down there in the bottom third, and they've earned their way there. I'll be interested to see their ranking next week. If they play well and by some miracle win in Washington, I wonder if the voters will bump them way up thinking "they're back." And if they lose and fall to 1-5, they'll have to be down right there at the bottom with the other absolute worst teams in the league. No matter how much athletic talent they have.