NFC East: nfl power rankings

Power Rankings: Giants up to No. 2

October, 23, 2012
Yes, it's Power Rankings day, and time to check and see how our division's teams did in this week's poll. As usual, I'll tell you where they placed this week, where they placed last week and how I personally voted. Enjoy.

2. New York Giants (Last week: 3). Breaking a tie with the Texans and moving into sole possession of second place, the Giants now rank behind only the undefeated Atlanta Falcons in our Power Rankings. Three of us voted them No. 2. John Clayton and Jamison Hensley each had them ranked No. 3 (behind Atlanta and Houston). I had moved them up to No. 2 last week after their very impressive victory in San Francisco. They didn't look as good, obviously, Sunday in beating the Redskins. But beat them they did, and NFC East wins are no joke. The Giants are playing as well as anyone right now, and if they were to win this weekend in Dallas and Andy Reid were to improve to 14-0 on weeks immediately following his bye, the Giants likely would be the poll's No. 1 team this time next week.

13. Philadelphia Eagles (13). Eagles stay right where they are after their bye week, which is fair. It was, after all, only the second week this year in which they didn't commit a turnover. We are waiting to see which way to go with the Eagles as they welcome the poll's No. 1 team to their home Sunday. Another loss could push them into the bottom half. A big win could give folks their anticipated reason to believe the Eagles are capable of big things. I have them 11th, which is down one spot from last week because I decided to make a correction on the Vikings and jump them up a bunch of spots. I'm waiting to see whether I'm wrong about how good the Eagles can be. Not sure yet.

15. Dallas Cowboys (18). Among the poll's biggest upward movers this week, the Cowboys benefit from a road win in Carolina and slide up into the top half. I had them 13 last week, I have them 13 again this week. I moved the Steelers and Vikings ahead of them and dropped the Cardinals and Redskins behind them. I think the Cowboys are a very average team, and I continue to feel good about having picked them to finish 8-8 and continuing to rank them in the middle of the NFL pack (though I rank them more highly than do any of our other voters). Obviously, yes, a second victory over the Giants on Sunday could impact their ranking in a favorable direction.

18. Washington Redskins (15). Switching places with the Cowboys are the Redskins following their heartbreaking loss to the Giants. They are among the poll's biggest fallers this week, though they can take pride in being its highest-ranked four-loss team. I had them at 12 last week and dropped them to 14 this week, moving Minnesota and the Cowboys in front of them. (And yes, in anticipatory answer to your outraged questions, I do know they beat the Vikings.) Ashley Fox and I rank the Redskins the highest of any of the voters. I do tend to favor teams with great quarterbacks in this poll, and the Redskins have one. Their defense is keeping them from contention.

So those are my thoughts. I welcome yours.

Power Rankings: Eagles fall four spots

October, 9, 2012
Yes, it's Power Rankings day -- our fun little way of bleeding Overreaction Monday into Tuesday here on Let's take a look at where our division's teams fall in this week's poll.

7. New York Giants (Last week: 10). A three-spot jump following a complete pasting of the league's worst team at home. In my own personal rankings, I moved the Giants up from No. 6 to No. 5, but that had more to do with the Packers falling behind them than the idea that the Giants should be moved up. Nothing about Sunday changed anything about my opinion of the Giants, so I didn't feel compelled to alter their ranking significantly in either direction. I'm still higher on them than the rest of the panel, as John Clayton ranks them 14th and everybody else has them at No. 7. I know John's never been sold on the champs, but I have a hard time seeing them as worse than the Bengals. To each his own. Regardless, Sunday's game in San Francisco strikes me as the type of game that could have a far greater impact on my opinion of the Giants than a home game against the Browns would. So check back next week on this.

11. Philadelphia Eagles (7). Not to repeat myself here, but nothing I saw from the Eagles on Sunday changed anything about my opinion of their team. They lost by two points on the road in Pittsburgh on a last-second field goal to a team that was coming off a bye week and is notoriously tough to beat in its building. I had the Eagles ranked ninth last week, and I have them ranked ninth this week. I had them ranked ninth in Week 4 as well. We've done six of these polls this season, and I've put the Eagles at No. 9 in four of them. I don't see how a two-point road loss in Pittsburgh -- or a two-point home victory over the Giants, for that matter -- makes people change their minds about a team so dramatically. But I am the new guy in this exercise, so I guess I'm still learning.

13. Dallas Cowboys (15). The Cowboys had a bye and moved up two spots. Does this mean the Cowboys look their best when they're not actually playing? I had them 13th last week and have them 13th again this week. The panel's opinion on Dallas ranges from No. 12 (Ashley Fox) to No. 18 (Mike Sando). The Steelers moved ahead of them while the Chargers, Bengals and Broncos all dropped behind them. This says less about the Cowboys than it does about the AFC, which has almost no good teams and whose rankings are therefore subject to extreme volatility.

21. Washington Redskins (18). I dropped them one spot on my ballot, from 17th to 18th. I actually thought they played fine against the Falcons, but I wanted to bump the 4-1 Vikings up in the rankings, and the Redskins were one of the teams over which they had to jump. Guess we'll see how wise that was, since they play each other this week. If Robert Griffin III is out, this team's ranking should drop significantly. But since we haven't seen that yet and we don't know whether he'll play, I thought it wise to hold tight with Washington. Everybody has them in the 18-23 range, which seems fair for a 2-3 team with a killer offense and defensive issues.

What do you guys think?
Today on, the fallout from the NFL draft takes the form of offseason Power Rankings. Here's a look at the way each of the NFC East's teams fared in the latest round of voting:

1. New York Giants (Previous rank: 1). So the deal is, four of our five Power Rankings voters (all but John Clayton) have a rule that the Super Bowl champ holds the No. 1 ranking until more games are played. So the Giants rank first on four of the five ballots (5th on Clayton's) and first overall. I don't agree with this rule, since I thought the point of the offseason Power Rankings was to assess the impact of the offseason moves on the relative strengths of all of the teams, and isn't it possible that the team at the top can be weakened by losing players to other teams? I've communicated this sentiment to my friends and colleagues on the voting panel, and to their everlasting credit, they have responded that they couldn't care less what I think. Paul Kuharsky emailed me a detailed map of nearby lakes into which he invited me to jump. I've never respected him more. Anyway, yeah, the 9-7 NFC East champs are the No. 1 team. Pineapples all around.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (12). The Eagles are the biggest mover-uppers in the rankings, jumping five spots from the rankings that came out after the first week of free agency. No one else moved more than three spots in either direction. Everybody loves the Eagles' offseason. I love the Eagles' offseason. It's had more hits than the Phillies get in a typical three-game series. But you know what? We all loved the Eagles' offseason last year, too. Fool me once, shame on you and all that. Yeah, I think the Eagles will be good. But let's see it, right?

14. Dallas Cowboys (14). The Cowboys stay put, having added basically one player in the draft that's expected to have any real 2012 impact. They were 8-8. They're ranked in the middle of the pack. They could be better, but everybody wants to see how they play on defense before assuming they will just because they have a great quarterback and great receivers. This is, I believe, wise.

25. Washington Redskins (25). The RG3 hype hasn't escaped the Beltway and reached the hearts and minds of the Power Rankings voters just yet. I know Ashley Fox was at the draft and heard the young man talk, and I see she has the Skins at 24. Kuharsky's got them up at 21. Right direction, long way to go is the general feeling about the Redskins. They could jump some of those teams in front of them, but I agree that their offseason hasn't made it clear-cut that they should, yet, in a poll such as this.

NFL Power Rankings: Giants on top

March, 23, 2012
Call me Pineapple.

I don't think they're trying to rub anything in, but the Power Rankings voters have convened for an offseason edition of our popular feature, and four of the five have the New York Giants ranked at the top. Their reasoning, I have discovered after an unscientific poll, is that the Giants are the defending Super Bowl champs, and barring any major personnel losses, you're always supposed to rank the defending champs No. 1 in the first poll of the new year. I'll buy that, and truthfully there's not another team that I believe has a completely convincing claim on the spot. Sure, they only won nine regular-season games while the Patriots won 13 and the Packers won 15. But there's no reason to think the Giants won't be contenders again for the Super Bowl next season, along with several of the teams in this poll's top 10, and probably a couple in the bottom 10. (Who saw the 49ers coming last year?)

Anyway, as usual, Power Rankings are a harmless debate point, intended to spark discussion, and so I'll let you know what I think and you can take it from there.

1. Giants: As I said, sure, they could be great again. They have the quarterback, and the receivers, and the pass rush. And while there are issues to address on the offensive line and in the running game, they feel good about their ability to address them. And who am I to doubt but a humbled pineapple?

12. Philadelphia Eagles: Obviously, the hopes in Philadelphia are that the 2012 version of the Eagles will finish much higher in the rankings than this. And there's reason to consider them the Giants' strongest challenger in the NFC East. But we've all been burned before, by basically this same group, so it's perfectly understandable for the voters to wait for the Eagles to prove themselves.

14. Dallas Cowboys: They finished in the middle of the 2011 pack, so they start 2012 in the middle as well. It's far too early to know what to expect from the Cowboys, who have made great strides in free agency, but have work to do before they convince us the defense can hold it together for a full season this time. The offense should be fine, especially as long as DeMarco Murray returns. But it's that defense that we just never know about in Dallas these days.

25. Washington Redskins. Optimism in Washington is much higher than such a ranking reflects, and I'm sure Redskins fans are looking as far as 10 spots up the list and thinking their team, behind Robert Griffin III, has a chance to be better than a lot of the teams in front of them. And it does. But the guy's still going to be a rookie quarterback, and that can go either way. Again, it's hard to blame the voters for wanting to see it first.
Well, there's no sense in denying it any longer. It turns out that I am a pineapple. I never realized it before, but the proof is in the final edition of this year's NFL Power Rankings.

9. New York Giants (Last week: 12). Back on Oct. 4, the Giants cracked the Power Rankings top 10 for the first time. I was... skeptical. At the time, citing their poor rush offense numbers and obvious flaws on defense, I wrote that "If the Giants are one of 10 best teams in the NFL, then I'm a pineapple." As it turns out, however, you didn't need to be able to run the ball or give up fewer than 400 points to be one of the top 10 teams in the league this year. Flaws and all, here the Giants are -- ninth in the Power Rankings. Personally, I'd rank the Giants 11th among the playoff teams -- behind Houston and Cincinnati and ahead of Denver -- but that's splitting hairs. Their record is tied for ninth-best in the league, and if they win at home Sunday (as they surely can), they'll be one of the eight teams left playing. For me to sit here, stomp my feet and insist I was right on semantic grounds would be foolish. I was wrong, and I can own up to it. Fortunately for me, I like being surprised. It's one of the reasons I love sports -- because we really don't know what's going to happen until it does. Whatever else these Giants may or may not be, they are a lot of fun to watch, and I look forward to seeing how far they can take this.

13. Dallas Cowboys (11). I think the voters were generous to the Cowboys, in the end. They have them ahead of the playoff-bound Broncos, and two spots ahead of the Eagles, who beat them twice and finished with the same record. Yeah, I thought the Cowboys would be better than 8-8, but they weren't, and a 1-4 finish after they had the division in their pocket is just inexcusable. Good teams don't do that.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (17). The Eagles finish with their highest ranking since Week 3, when they were ranked No. 6 and we all thought they'd get things right eventually. They eventually got things right enough to finish 4-0 once all was nearly lost, and there's reason to believe they can correct their problems and be a top team next year. But for purposes of this exercise, there's little doubt that they belong on anyone's list of biggest sports disappointments of 2011.

26. Washington Redskins (25). They began the season at No. 28, got as high as No. 10 and then settled right back down around where they started. I don't think the fast start was a mirage. I think the Redskins just didn't have enough to overcome their injury problems. And yes, that means they're not a great team. The Giants had injury problems too. Maybe even worse, and look at them. Had they stayed healthy all year, I agree with Mike Shanahan that the Redskins could have been a contender. But if a frog had wings, it wouldn't bang its little froggy butt on the ground when it hopped, right?

NFL Power Rankings: We're No. 7!

December, 27, 2011
The penultimate edition of the 2011-12 NFL Power Rankings are out, and the NFC East teams are about where they should be. The Dallas Cowboys (11) and the New York Giants (12) rank behind every team that is or would currently be in the playoffs except for the two teams still in contention for the AFC West title. The Broncos and Raiders sit just behind, at 13 and 14.

This likely means that the NFC East champion -- i.e., the winner of Sunday's game between the Cowboys and Giants -- will be the second-worst ranked of any of the playoff teams once next week's Power Rankings come out. Doesn't ensure it, but it looks like it'll be the case, and it makes sense. You can argue about whether the NFC East or the AFC West has been worse this year, but you can't argue that the other six divisions have been better than both.

On to our weekly look at how our teams fared in the Power Rankings:

11. Dallas Cowboys (Last week: 10). Hard to know what we saw from the Stephen McGee/Sammy Morris Cowboys on Saturday once they made it clear that they didn't want any part of a wild-card spot and wouldn't try to win the game. (Honestly, folks, if they'd won, then they could have made the playoffs as a wild card with nothing more than an Atlanta loss next week, even if the Giants beat them Sunday.) Jerome Simpson and the Bengals did a forward-flip over the Cowboys' heads and landed on both feet in the top 10.

12. New York Giants (16). One of the biggest movers of the week, and why not? The Jets win was a huge win against a bitter rival in a game the Giants needed to win to keep their playoff hopes in their own hands. They even managed to run the ball in the second half and get a few stops against a Jets offense that for some reason woke up Sunday morning believing it was the 2007 Patriots. So Cowboys are 11, Giants are 12. Voters Paul Kuharsky and Ashley Fox rank the Giants higher. Mike Sando, John Clayton and James Walker rank the Cowboys higher. Best part is, they get to settle this on the field.

17. Philadelphia Eagles (18). If the Cowboys only fall one spot for losing their white-flag game, it stands to reason that the Eagles would only pick up one spot for winning it. My question is whether, if they beat the Redskins in their finale, the Eagles can actually finish above the Giants-Cowboys loser in the final Power Rankings next week. They would have the same record, after all.

26. Washington Redskins (25). The Redskins drop a spot after a terrible, inexplicable loss to the 30th-ranked Vikings and their backups. I'm sure they'd love to win the finale and match last year's 6-10 record, but more important for Washington will be playing better on defense this week than they did in Week 16. They felt so good about the defense and its future prospects after beating the Giants two weeks ago, they certainly don't want to go into the offseason on a down note.

NFL Power Rankings: East meets middle

December, 20, 2011
What a great division ours is for the NFL Power Rankings. One week the Giants are up and the Cowboys are down. The next week it's the opposite. The long-forgotten Eagles and Redskins are making noise again, and there's just absolutely no way to know what it's all going to look like this time next week. The upshot is that none of the teams in the NFC East is particularly good or at all consistent, but we love our division nonetheless and we check every week to see how its teams are doing in the rankings.

10. Dallas Cowboys (Last week: 14). Lots of consensus on the Cowboys. Every voter has them ranked 11th except James Walker, whose ninth-place vote apparently pushes the Cowboys into the top 10. They had a gimme game in Tampa Bay and took care of it while the Giants stumbled against the Redskins. I think they're ranked right about where they deserve to be at this point, and I'm sorry I don't have anything interesting to say about it.

16. New York Giants (12). The Giants tied the Seahawks for 15th but lost the tiebreaker because, as you may recall, the Seahawks beat them. So it's a four-spot drop for the Giants, who are back at .500 with two weeks left in their season and no way to stop an opposing offense. As is the case with Dallas, it's hard to argue this ranking. They're a .500 team. Middle of the pack, and ranked accordingly. I think they got too high at several points this year, but I never thought they were any worse than right around 15th or 16th.

18. Philadelphia Eagles (21). James has these guys 13th, which helps the rankings, and he just watched them annihilate the Jets, so I guess he was impressed. The Eagles do look awfully impressive when things are clicking for them, and with Jason Babin punishing quarterbacks and the defense hitting its stride, that's what's going on right now. There's no doubt the Eagles should have been a top-tier team in the league this year. Their failures in the first three quarters of the season doomed them to the back half of these rankings.

25. Washington Redskins (27). A road win in New York and a season sweep of the Giants earns the Redskins a two-point bump in the rankings. I think they're better than a couple of the teams in front of them, but they did lose to the Panthers and jeez, the Chiefs just beat the Packers so you have to hand it to them. A strong finish with victories over the Vikings and Eagles could push Washington well above the No. 28 ranking with which it began this season.

NFL Power Rankings: NFC East edition

December, 13, 2011
Yeah, they're still ranking teams from our division in the weekly NFL Power Rankings here at They have to rank all 32, no matter how mediocre. So let's take a look at how the NFC East's teams fared in this week's poll.

12. New York Giants (Last week: 16): Getting dangerously close to pineapple territory again, the Giants jump up four spots as a result of their stirring comeback victory Sunday night in Dallas. It has become clear that the Giants have an elite offense and a rotten defense that's been shredded by injuries, but that they have a knack for finding ways to win some games it doesn't appear they should win. That tough six-game stretch we talked about so much early in the season is over, and they went 2-4, winning the first in New England and the last in Dallas. Things ease up a little bit now, but not much. The Redskins are likely to give them a game. The Jets are rolling now and trying to get themselves in the playoffs. And then it's the Cowboys again in Week 17. If the Giants hold or improve this ranking, they'll have earned it.

14. Dallas Cowboys (9): What a difference a blocked kick can make. The Giants are this week's biggest riser and the Cowboys are this week's biggest faller. I can't help but wonder how dramatically different the rankings would have looked if that seesaw game had teetered the other way. But it did not, as we have discussed, and the defensively challenged Cowboys tumble and face the final three games without their starting running back. Dallas actually tied for 13th this week but lost the tiebreaker due to the Titans' having won more recently. So you could argue them ahead of Tennessee, sure, but then the next three teams ahead of them all beat them, so you kind of run out of argument a little bit there.

21. Philadelphia Eagles (24): A road win in Miami is a good win right now, the way the Dolphins have been playing, so the Eagles get the win and slide up three spots. Just 17 more gets them back to their preseason ranking! Again, as with Dallas, there are a bunch of teams right in front of them -- Seattle, Arizona, Chicago -- that all beat them head-to-head. So the ranking looks about right.

27. Washington Redskins (27): Unchanged after they played the Patriots to the wire and lost. The Redskins are 4-9, assured of a third straight losing season and currently lined up for the fifth pick in the draft. Hasn't gone great, though there are always those memories of Week 6, when they were ranked 10th in this poll. Do I think they're better than the Chiefs and the Jaguars, who are directly in front of them? Sure. But this is the neighborhood in which they belong at this point.

NFL Power Rankings: All four falling

December, 6, 2011
When your division goes 0-4 in a week for the first time in more than decade, you barely even feel like looking at the Power Rankings. But then you do anyway, because you remembered it was Tuesday and that's what you do on Tuesdays. You look at the Power Rankings. Here's a look at the way the NFC East's teams fared after Unlucky Week 13.

9. Dallas Cowboys (Last week: 8). Only a one-spot drop for the Cowboys off an overtime road loss in Arizona, though they have the New York Jets and the Denver Tebows breathing down their necks. As I've said before, I see no reason to insist that this division boasts one of the top 10 teams in the league. I think Dallas could be that, but they'll have to play better than they've played so far. And the No. 11 and 12 teams in this week's poll have the same record the Cowboys had and beat them head-to-head. I believe the Cowboys are lucky to be ranked as high as they are.

16. New York Giants (14). New York falls two spots in spite of losing by just three points to the unbeaten Packers. The Giants were ranked as high as No. 6 in this poll during their 6-2 start, but they're 6-6 now and likely belong right smack in the middle of the pack. Not sure what the 7-5 Bears did to deserve to be ranked behind them, but unless they're going to win at least three of their last four games, this is the neighborhood in which the Giants belong -- and in which they always did.

24. Philadelphia Eagles (18). The Eagles are one of the week's biggest fallers, and have dropped to their lowest point of the season. The loss in Seattle was apparently enough for the voters, who are sick of the league's most disappointing team continuing to disappoint every week. Mike Sando, who attended that game, has the Eagles at No. 26, behind the Panthers and Redskins. And at 4-8, it'd be tough for them to put up a real convincing argument against him.

27. Washington Redskins (23). It was a fun ride that had them all the way up to No. 10 at one point. But the Redskins are nearly back to the No. 28 spot from which they began the season. They had a 16-13 lead on the Jets with just under eight minutes left in the game Sunday, and had they held it, I believe they might have even moved up. Instead, they somehow figured out a way to lose 34-19. And with two of their best offensive players apparently suspended for the rest of the season, I imagine they're stuck right around the spot in which they currently find themselves.

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys now No. 8

November, 29, 2011
Power Rankings day! Let's see how our teams finished in this week's poll:

8. Dallas Cowboys (Last week: 9): When the Giants were kicking around the top 10, I wasn't shy about expressing doubt about their worthiness to be there. Something about a pineapple was said, people got upset ... I'm sure many of you remember and those who don't couldn't care less. So are the Cowboys top-10-worthy? I think they have the talent to be that good, but I'm not sure they've really proved it yet. The defense is showing cracks. They're playing bad teams and barely winning. Don't get me wrong -- it's better to be beating bad teams than losing to good ones, as the Giants are doing. But I don't know that I like the Cowboys better than I like the No. 9 Falcons. And the No. 11 Lions and the No. 15 Jets did beat them. Let's just say I remain skeptical that any team in this division is one of the top 10 teams in the league, but I believe the Cowboys are at least capable of being there.

14. New York Giants (12): Middle of the pack seems about right for a team that's 6-5 and has been outscored by 25 points for the season. The Jets (15) might be better, might not. The Bengals (13) might be worse, might not. The Giants' Monday night performance could have cost them more than two spots -- it was that putrid. But it's the first game all year that they haven't given themselves a chance to win. Still more good than bad so far for the Giants, who are in the midst of a correction after their surprise 6-2 start.

18. Philadelphia Eagles (18): I guess when you lose to the No. 6 team, you don't automatically have to drop. I was just surprised the Eagles didn't after looking so bad against the Patriots. At this point, they're about where they deserve to be -- down there with the Titans, Bills, Bucs and a bunch of teams of which it's hard to think very much. They could move up yet because of their soft remaining schedule, but they're just not very good.

23. Washington Redskins (26): Finally, a tick back up for the Redskins after a six-week plummet. Mike Sando, who I think was at the game Sunday and (correct me if I'm wrong, Mike) has attended two of Washington's four victories this year, has them all the way up at No. 20. Hey, they could win a couple more now that they've rediscovered their run game. I never thought they were a bottom-rung team, and technically they could hit my preseason prediction of 7-9, although they'd need to shock some people along the way.

NFL Power Rankings: Giants, Eagles up

November, 1, 2011
Oh yes. It's Power Rankings day here at And I know that gets you all tingly. Lots of movement among the teams in our fair division, so here's a look at how they all fared this week:

9. New York Giants (Last week: 11). Should a squeaker comeback victory over the winless Dolphins move a team up two spots? Probably not. Do I think the Giants will turn out to be a better team in 2011 than the Texans, Falcons, Jets, Eagles and a few of the other teams behind them in the rankings? Probably not. Does a team ranked 30th on offense in rushing and 28th on defense against the run belong in the top 10? You can answer that for yourself. I've been clear about my feelings on the Giants as one of the top-10 teams in the league. They're the same as my feelings on Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. But as of now, only four teams have better records, so there's really not a lot for a doubter like myself to say about it, is there?

16. Philadelphia Eagles (22). The Eagles are the biggest climber of the week, moving up six spots after their extremely impressive victory over the Cowboys on Sunday night. Personally, if I were Oakland, Kansas City or Tampa Bay -- i.e., a team with a winning record that's ranked behind the Eagles this week, I'd be a little bit annoyed about having a 3-4 team jump over me. But it was an awfully good-looking win that made everyone remember how good the Eagles were supposed to be all along, and I think it's fair to vote accordingly.

21. Dallas Cowboys (18). On the other end of that beat-down in Philly were the Cowboys, who played by far their worst game of the year on offense and defense and fell to 3-4 themselves. There's a lot of consistency of opinion on the Cowboys -- James Walker has them 19th, Paul Kuharsky 22nd and Ashley Fox, Mike Sando and John Clayton 21st. At this point, the Cowboys need to show people a reason to rank them higher than they are. And while the rest of the schedule offers them several chances to do that, they surely did not do it Sunday night.

22. Washington Redskins (20). Just three weeks ago, the Redskins were ranked 10th in this poll. But it's been three pretty rotten weeks for a Washington team that has fallen apart after its 3-1 start. I think they're ranked about right for now, as I think the Minnesotas and Clevelands of the world are worse (though that Carolina team down there at No. 25 did beat them pretty handily). But the way they're playing right now, there's little reason to think this fall has reached bottom.

NFL Power Rankings: Sinking Skins

October, 25, 2011
Oh, yes, it is Power Rankings day here on and the new rankings are out -- fresh, hot and ready to eat. Or argue over. Or whatever. This week, the rankings of the NFC East teams relative to each other reflect the standings in our division, which makes sense. Here's a look at the way our four teams fared in this week's voting:

11. New York Giants (Last week: 11)

No movement for the first-place Giants on their bye week, and the voters remain conflicted as to what to do with them. Paul Kuharsky ranks them seventh while James Walker has them 16th. I don't know what to tell you. If you want to call the Giants a top-1o team so far, you can find evidence to support your position. If you want to say you don't buy it, there's evidence for that too. I fully expect them to whip the Dolphins this week coming off the bye and move into next week's top 10. But if they lay an egg like they did against the Seahawks a couple of weeks back, it could be a long fall with the way the schedule shakes out after this.

18. Dallas Cowboys (21)

A three-spot jump for the Cowboys off their easy victory over the Rams. They were ranked too low last week, especially considering the 2-4 Eagles were ranked higher, and this seems more accurate at this point. But again, lots of variety in the voting. James has them 13th, Ashley Fox 15th, Mike Sando and John Clayton 19th, Kuharsky 21st. Their schedule turns the opposite way from the Giants' schedule, so they're presented with a chance to move up this list once they get out of Philadelphia on Sunday night. Of course, if they win that, they could make a big jump as soon as next week.

20. Washington Redskins (15)

They were No. 10 two weeks ago and No. 15 last week. It's been a rough couple of weeks, and the way their injuries are mounting, this may not be the end of the slide. They could use a victory over the Bills in Toronto this week to get things back on track, but remember -- they were ranked 28th in the preseason, so a long losing streak would reinforce the opinion the voters had of them when all of this started. Won't take long for them to drift back to the back of the pack.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (20)

The Eagles didn't even play, yet they fell two spots. The two teams that jumped ahead of them were the Cowboys and the Chiefs, who thumped the Raiders in Oakland. Tough for anyone in Philly to argue. They're 2-4 and one of the most disappointing teams in the league so far. This is a team that's going to have to prove to the voters that it deserves to move up. A victory over Dallas on Sunday night would be a start.

NFL Power Rankings: Middle of the pack

October, 18, 2011
It's Power Rankings day! And you know what that means, right? Well, technically, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't mean a whole lot. But it's our weekly chance to debate, argue and analyze the relative merits of the NFL's 32 teams. Here, we take a look at how the four teams in our division fared in this week's voting, in order:

New York Giants: 11 (Last week, 14)

Ah, the Giants. They beat the Eagles, they go up to 12. They win in Arizona, they go up to 10. They lose to Seattle, they drop to 14. They beat the Bills, back up to 11. It seems no one knows what to make of the Giants. Paul Kuharsky ranks them eighth. John Clayton ninth. James Walker, 16th, and he was at the Buffalo game! These Giants are a conundrum -- winning more games than it seems they should be winning. But it's the wins on which all teams are judged, and the fact is they're 4-2.

Washington Redskins: 15 (10)

The Redskins are 3-2, but trending the other way. An ugly loss Sunday to the Eagles knocked Washington out of its lofty top-10 perch and back down to the middle where I think they belong. I'm interested to see what happens from here on out, as they'll have a harder time mustering much offense with their line banged-up, and they aren't going to dazzle anybody even if the defense can win them some games.

Philadelphia Eagles: 20 (21)

A division road win only moves you up one spot. Tough crowd, but the Eagles did little before Sunday to earn any benefit of the doubt. Watching them play, there are times when it's impossible to imagine that there are 19 teams better. But they are 2-4 and have done some really bad things to get there, so they have to work to earn their way back up the standings and in the minds of the voters. They get a week off, so they could move up next week if the teams in front of them lose. But at this point, I think everybody feels we need to see it from the Eagles before we can believe it.

Dallas Cowboys: 21 (15)

This seems a little harsh -- a six-point drop after a last-minute road loss in New England. I mean, I know they had the lead late, but was that a game they were really supposed to win? Walker has them 15th, higher than any other team in the division, but each of the other voters ranked them one spot behind Philadelphia. I fail to see anything the 2-4 Eagles have done to this point to warrant being ranked ahead of the 2-3 Cowboys. But that's just me, and we have 11 more weeks left to sort all of this out.

Oh yeah, it's Power Rankings day here at, 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.

NFL Power Rankings: Giants top 10?

October, 4, 2011
It's Power Rankings day here at, and the new rankings are hot and fresh and ready to be picked apart. A look at where our four teams fit in:

10. New York Giants (last week: 12): All right. Many of you say I'm too skeptical of the Giants. And you may be right. But I think our Power Rankings voters have taken it too far in the opposite direction. Because if the Giants are one of the 10 best teams in the NFL, then I'm a pineapple. I mean, seriously? The Giants? The team that had to fake an injury to beat the Rams? The team that needed a lucky break on an official's call to beat the Cardinals? Good for them for being 3-1, but I see a team that has gotten a few nice breaks, taken advantage of some opportunities and limited its own mistakes. The underlying, fundamental stuff doesn't scream "sustainable" to me. They don't run the ball well. They don't stop the run at all. Their success seems totally tied into Eli Manning's ability to stay away from mistakes, and do we really think he's not going to throw another interception all year? Add in a tough second-half schedule and the Giants' recent history of gagging in December, and I'd be a little more skeptical if I were voting on this. To me, this ranking means teams like the Jets, Steelers, Bears, Cowboys, Falcons and obviously Eagles should be at least as ashamed of their poor starts as the Giants are proud of their hot one.

12. Washington Redskins (16). Another nice jump for the Redskins as they head into their bye. Washington's rankings so far this year have been 28, 19, 15, 16 and now 12. So they and the ninth-ranked Buffalo Bills are the cool surprise teams of the league so far this year. I think 12 seems a little bit high for the Redskins, and I don't think in the long run they turn out to be better than the teams ranked right behind them, which are the Steelers and the Jets. And I can't write that Manning is a good bet to throw more interceptions the rest of the way and then ignore Rex Grossman, who's already started. But the Redskins seem to have a running game/defense formula that should keep them around this middle of the pack the rest of the year, even if they do slip a little bit once they're done playing NFC West teams.

17. Dallas Cowboys (11). Dallas suffered the second-biggest drop of the week (after the Jets' seven-spot drop), which is amazing. Consider that they had a 24-point second-half lead on the team ranked fourth in this poll. Had they held that lead, the Cowboys could conceivably have moved up as high as fourth or fifth in the poll this week. Instead, 17 with a 2-2 record at the bye and fresh questions about the reliability of Week 2 and Week 3 hero Tony Romo. The Cowboys are the roller-coaster (or Romo-Coaster) team of the league this year, and I don't expect this to be the last wild swing they make before it's over.

20. Philadelphia Eagles (17). This team was the third-ranked team in the poll just three weeks ago. And in the three weeks since, they've held fourth-quarter leads in each of their games only to lose them. The league's most disappointing team isn't going to get any breaks from voters, and it shouldn't. They're clearly more talented, player-by-player, than quite of few of the team ranked ahead of them. But they don't actually play football very well -- especially not when and where it counts the most -- and so the results say 1-3 and closer to the bottom of the pack than the top. Starting to get a bit of a 2010 Cowboys vibe about this team, and I don't know if you remember back that far, but that wasn't good.