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Power Poll: Ranking 32 Teams Through Week 7

Brian Leatherman

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NFL Blog - Power Poll: Ranking 32 Teams Through Week 7

For the last few weeks, the question has been asked, are the Dallas Cowboys the best team in football? Yes, the Seahawks victory in Seattle should be a good indication, and winning 6 games in a row is another. But there’s one team in my opinion - who can’t run the ball like the Cowboys (Honestly, who can?) - that has a tremendous edge on defense.

1. Denver Broncos   (5-1)

The Broncos put a beat down on San Francisco. If the game would have been closer it’s very possible the number two team would be sitting here. But Manning was on fire Monday night as he passed Brett Favre for the most touchdown passes at 509, and that defense is starting to really making its presence known.

2. Dallas Cowboys   (6-1)

The Cowboys are coming off their 6th win in a row. And you can argue there isn’t a hotter team in the league right now. Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray (Who by the way broke a 56-year-old record held by hall of famer Jim Brown) and Dez Bryant are known as the new triplets. Their defense didn’t have its best game, but one thing they did do was shut down the run, and that had been a big area of concern for this team. If they can get a win against the Redskins and then the Cardinals the following week, I’ll have no choice but to put them down as the best team in football.

3. Indianapolis Colts   (5-2)

Andrew Luck is playing light outs football. Many people aren’t talking about him as an MVP candidate, but I think he deserves to be in the same breath as Rivers, P. Manning, and DeMarco Murray. The Colts D held the Bengals to a goose egg. If that defense continues playing like that, the Broncos are going to have some company for favorites out of the AFC to reach the Super Bowl

4. Arizona Cardinals   (5-1)

Before the season started, the cards were looked at as possibly the third best team… in their own division. Now that’s not really a knock because you have the Hawks and Niners over there as well. But who do we have leading that division by 1 ½ games? That’s right, those Cardinals of Arizona.

5. Philadelphia Eagles   (5-1)

The Eagles are coming off a bye after giving the Giants a beat down the week prior. If their defense plays like that for the rest of the season, they're gonna be hard to beat.

6. Detroit Lions   (5-2)

The Lions have two of the best defensive tackles in the game, and both are playing for new contracts. So that means trouble for the rest of the league. The Lions are also winning despite being without all-universe WR Calvin Johnson.

7. Green Bay Packers   (5-2)

Aaron Rodgers is playing the best he’s ever played. And that is just frightening for the rest of the league. The Pack still has questions on defense but they are certainly playing better these days.

8. Baltimore Ravens   (5-2)

The Ravens are back to playing good defense (Not Ray Lewis Defense) and Steve Smith SR continues to show everyone why he still belongs in the league. As long as their defense can continue to get better, they'll make a serious push.

9. New England Patriots   (5-2)

I still can’t help thinking about the beating this team took a couple of weeks ago at the hand of the Chiefs. I know it’s just one game, but they looked awful. Tom Brady has hushed the media by playing up to the greatness everyone is used to seeing from him. Injuries to starters Jared Mayo and Steven Ridley are going to hurt this team in the long run and might end up being too much to over come.

10. San Diego Chargers   (5-2)

I know some people may think I’m crazy for putting the Chargers at #10 with as great as Phillip Rivers has been playing, but their defense is going to need to step up for this team to continue to be considered one of the best teams in the league. Losing to the Chiefs at home didn’t help, but it was a divisional game and those games can always go either way. But for me, it comes back to their defense and that’s why they are ranked #10.

11. Kansas City Chiefs   (3-3)

The Chiefs have beat two top 10 teams in my power poll, but they are so Jekyll/Hyde. It’s still a big leap for them compared to other power polls. Those guys are doing really well, considering all they've lost on defense. And they just won a game on the road against one of the hottest teams in the league, too.

12. San Francisco 49ers   (4-3)

It was just a couple of weeks ago that the Niners were looking like Super Bowl contenders. But the smack down they took from the Broncos has raised a lot of questions. Once considered one of the best offensive lines in the league, they've been decimated with injury and overall poor play. Their defense hasn’t been anything like it was in the past. Although a lot of that has to do with the absence of Aldon Smith and NaVorro Bowman. Both are expected back at some point this season...

13. Pittsburgh Steelers   (4-3)

Like the Chiefs, you just don’t know what you’re going to get with this team. And the win against the Texans showed how they’ve played so far - like seller dwellers for part of the game, then like world champs the other part of the game. Again, consistency pays off when you actually have some.

14. Seattle Seahawks   (3-3)

They should drop out of the top 20 after falling for special teams trickery twice by the Rams. But, they are still the champs and Russell Wilson is putting up Madden video game numbers. Teams don’t fear these guys anymore. You can thank the Dallas Cowboys for that.

15. Buffalo Bills   (4-3)

These next few teams really could all go in this spot. But I mainly picked the Bills to go here because they won. Kyle Orton has this team playing with some hope. They were hit hard at the running back position, losing C J Spiller and Fred Jackson for a lengthy amount of time, so any hope at all is a good thing.

16. Cincinnati Bengals   (3-3-1)

There is something going on with the Bengals, and it isn’t good. Not only did the Colts dominate them, they got embarrassed. But I think it was the Bengals embarrassing themselves more than anything else. Their defense has been lit up two games in a row. One of those games by the Panthers, and those guys don’t exactly have a lot of offensive weapons.

17. Carolina Panthers   (3-3-1)

I know this team is missing Greg Hardy, but this defense is nothing like the 2013 defense. The Panthers will probably end up winning the NFC South, but it could be by default. Cam Newton is having to carry this team, and I don’t think he’s at the level where he can carry a team like Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady.

18. Miami Dolphins   (3-3)

The Dolphins pulled off a bit of a shocker by going into Chicago and beating DA Bears. If their offense can match their defensive production, they could push for a wild card spot in the playoffs.

19. Cleveland Browns   (3-3)

Just when you think the Browns could be on to something, they go down to Jacksonville and pull a stinker. It will be interesting to see how they bounce back, because if they don’t do it in a hurry, Johnny Football’s name will be heard loud and clear from Ohio.

20. New York Giants   (3-4)

They gave the Cowboys all they could handle, but their defense let them down once again. Their run D is horrible as teams have put up well over 300 yards rushing on them in the last two weeks. Eli Manning isn’t good enough to carry this team like his brother. Could be the start of a really long year in New York.

21. Chicago Bears   (3-4)

I know, I know. They have so much talent on offense, but these guys aren’t clicking. Their defense isn’t much of a defense any more. If there was one thing you could count on going in to a football season, it would be that the Bears would have a good defense. Well, not this year.

22. New Orleans Saints   (2-4)

Rob Ryan had this defense turned around, right? This team was supposed to push for a Super Bowl appearance. Not happening! Drew Brees is turning the ball over and their defense hasn’t gotten back to 2012 bad. But they’re not as good as the 2013 Saints defense.

23. St. Louis Rams   (2-4)

I went with the Rams here because I think their defense has too much talent to keep playing so badly. Unlike the Texans, the Rams have a QB for the future in Austin Davis.

24. Houston Texans   (3-4)

They are better than last season, but not a whole lot better in my eyes. They have no chance with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB and if their defensive front doesn’t get pressure, they don’t have anyone that can cover in the secondary.

25. Atlanta Falcons   (2-5)

Went with the Falcons here because I felt their talent is better than their record. But it just isn’t coming together for this team. Their defense is horrible and doesn’t show any signs of getting better. Like other QBs mentioned, Matt Ryan isn’t good enough to carry this team by himself.

26. Washington Redskins   (2-5)

Could their season be saved by Colt McCoy? Probably not, but it is good to see the guy show everyone that he can play in this league.

27. Minnesota Vikings   (2-5)

Not enough talent on both sides of the ball for this team this year. Teddy Bridgewater gives them some hope for the future. This team had a fighting chance with Adrian Peterson, but without him, the Vikes don’t have enough anywhere else to make any kind of noise.

28. New York Jets   (1-6)

Yes they’ve only won one game, but you can’t overlook the fact they have a good defense. Kudos to them for sticking with Geno Smith and giving the guy a chance. If they would have given him some real weapons earlier in the season, who knows what might have happened.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars   (1-6)

The Jags still have a long ways to go, but their defense has shown they can bring the heat. Who knows, maybe they can string together some wins now that they finally got their first one under their belt.

30. Tennessee Titans   (2-5)

The titans have an okay offensive line, annnnnd that’s about it.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers   (1-5)

This team is bad, really bad. I’m not sure why people thought Lovie Smith was a miracle worker because obviously he isn’t.

32. Oakland Raiders   (0-6)

Well at least you know you got a top 5 pick in the draft next April and you didn’t have to wait that long to find out.



Brian has been a football junkie from the time he was 5 years old. He lives, eats and breathes the game. Brian is a college graduate living in the south who loves his faith, his family, and his Dallas Cowboys.

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Cowboys Defense is Ready to Win Now, Time for Offense to Prove the Same

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Defense is Ready to Win Now, Time for Offense to Prove the Same
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

The Dallas Cowboys lead the NFC East at 1-1, and have a favorable schedule ahead of them. With such an inexperienced roster, early season growing pains were expected, and likely should be still as the team comes off their first win to play in Seattle on Sunday.

Through a season opening clunker in Carolina and hard-earned divisional win against the Giants, the Cowboys have exceeded already high expectations on defense.

With the currently 0-2 Seahawks, Lions, and Texans awaiting Dallas, the time is now for Scott Linehan's offense to hit their stride. It will take more than a five week assessment to determine if the Cowboys are truly playoff contenders for 2018, but it could take even less than that for Cowboys Nation to realize this team is fighting an uphill battle at QB and WR.

Following Dak Prescott's 64-yard touchdown pass to Tavon Austin against the Giants, the Cowboys punted on four of their remaining seven drives. The Cowboys did a better job mixing up their early down play calling to remain ahead of the chains for most of the night, but even still their execution was lacking. Finishing three of ten on third downs, the Cowboys didn't sustain the type of originality on offense that earned them an early cushion.

Thankfully, the Cowboys turning back the clock to 2016 on a clinching touchdown drive of 14 plays would be all the defense needed. Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott would both convert a pair of first downs on the ground. The Cowboys took a 20-3 lead, and more importantly the game clock down to 5:45 with an eight minute and 23 second march.

As such, the Cowboys offense is an enigma. With the return of Brice Butler, the team is currently carrying seven wide receivers and four tight ends.

On defense, the Cowboys are expecting reinforcements in Xavier Woods, Randy Gregory, and David Irving to further bolster this aggressive, blitzing unit in the coming weeks. For the offense, Dallas must make the most out of the unknown depth they have, without any drastic change in style around the corner.

The Cowboys record under Prescott proves they're at their best when Dak is efficient. The ceiling for a new-look Cowboys offense built for Dak is not as high for this reason. Through just two weeks, it's clear that the Cowboys offense will be as good as the sum of its parts - instead of relying on any individual talents.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Cowboys' record when Dak Prescott ... Doesn't throw an interception: 20-4 Records at least a 100.0 passer rating: 15-1 Commits no turnovers: 18-1

After a strong preseason from rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup, the third-round pick has played less than half his team's offensive snaps through two games. Cole Beasley has seemed to regain his connection with Prescott, snagging a team high nine catches so far. Terrance Williams has been a non-factor, and the same is surprisingly said about FA acquisition Allen Hurns.

Regardless of what the Cowboys do over the coming weeks, a few narratives and lingering questions about the team feel evident. With the defense set to tee off against the Seahawks sub par OL this week, Rod Marinelli's unit will still likely not receive the credit it deserves heading into week four.

With the task at hand being maintaining their standing atop the division, the Cowboys must also be out to prove they can sustain success without a consistent passing game.

All of this to effectively say, the Cowboys are going to Seattle expecting to control the game on defense. To finish off Russell Wilson in his home opener (already at 0-2), it will take a sharper performance for a full four quarters on offense too.

A win at the Seahawks might not mean as much as it has in past seasons, but in improving the Cowboys record to 2-1 on the way back to AT&T Stadium, it could be all the confidence they need to understand the NFC East is theirs for the taking while continuing to truly find their identity.

2014 NFL: Week 6 Cowboys vs. Seahawks highlights

Week 6 Own by nfl

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Defense is Ready to Win Now, Time for Offense to Prove the Same" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Cowboys Defense So Far So Good as Seahawks Up Next

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Cowboys Defense So Far So Good as Seahawks Up Next

Dallas may only be 1-1 on the season, but the Cowboys are officially tied for first-place in the NFC East, and fresh off a workmanlike victory over divisional rivals, the New York Giants. It was a game they should have won, and did win, but the takeaways so early in the season are that, although the offense has not clicked on all cylinders, the defense is getting high praise.

The Cowboys sacked New York’s Eli Manning six times and limited the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft, Saquon Barkley, to a mere 28 yards rushing. It was also a night in which Dak Prescott not only out-gained Barkley by 17 yards on the ground, but torched the Giants’ secondary on a 64-yard touchdown strike to Tavon Austin which proved New York’s Safety Landon Collins wrong when leading up to this game he remarked that the key to a Giants’ victory would be getting Prescott to throw. When Prescott was made aware of the comment in a midweek interview he replied, "…challenge accepted," and the third-year veteran made good on his word leading to the 20-13 victory.

However, Prescott ended the night with just 160 yards passing yet the ankle injury he sustained in Week 1 showed no signs of rearing its head as Prescott moved seamlessly in the pocket and ran the ball well.

As we move ahead to the Cowboys meeting in Seattle, we take a quick check over to one of the most reputable online sportsbooks in the industry - Intertops according to the reviews - where we can monitor the line on this pivotal NFC clash as the week progresses.

Seattle boasts a talented quarterback of their own in Russell Wilson but one who will find the sledding tough if the Dallas defense continues to shut down All-World wide outs like Odell Beckham Jr. and contain future rushing stars like Saquon Barkley. Outside of Wilson, Seattle is not loaded offensively, with their biggest target, Doug Baldwin, ailing with a knee injury and a backfield which consists of two young rushers in second-year man Chris Carson and a first-round rookie in Rashaad Penny who dealt with nagging injuries throughout the preseason and looked unsettled in Seattle’s 27-24 loss to the Broncos.

The Cowboys defense has already proven its worth in Carolina with Cam Newton under center and again last week against New York. The unit is surrendering an average of 14 ½ points per game and is incorporating more blitz packages than we’ve come to expect.

The difference this year is that the players they have on defense are capable of getting to the quarterback quick enough so that the coverage linebackers and secondary aren’t alone on an island for too long. The one concern is the status of Linebacker Sean Lee, who checked out of the game in the fourth quarter Sunday night and brought to mind his hamstring issues of a year ago, but apparently it was in fact cramping, and not straining, of the hammy which allowed Lee to return.

The bottom line in terms of the Cowboys' upcoming matchup on Sunday afternoon is that they will get the Seahawks coming off a short week, as Seattle played on Monday night and should be relatively healthy for the contest.

Dak Prescott may not have the formidable offensive line that he has had in the past, nor a top-tier arsenal of receivers, but he does have the elusive Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield and is capable of extricating himself from pressure situations when no target is available.

If the Dallas defense continues to play at the current level, it will not only be limiting the opposition on the scoreboard but putting its offense in good field position throughout. So check out Intertops, one of the most trusted and reputable online sportsbooks, to see where this line goes because a Dallas win and an ATS cover are just days away.



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Taco Tuesday: Cowboys DE Taco Charlton Starting to Dominate?

Brian Martin

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Taco Tuesday: DE Taco Charlton Starting to Dominate?
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

There has been quite a bit of talk about what a bad decision it was for the Dallas Cowboys to draft Taco Charlton with their first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Nearly everybody wanted someone different, not a player that needed time to develop.

Well, fast forward a year later and it looks as if the Cowboys made the right decision.

Don't look now, but Defensive End Taco Charlton is starting to live up to that first-round pedigree. In the first two weeks of the 2018 season, Charlton has already looked like a much improved player from what we saw a season ago. Imagine that, a little bit of time to develop and he's turning into a solid player.

I know I may be getting a little bit ahead of myself, especially suggesting that he is starting to dominate, but I can't help myself. I'm that excited about how much he has improved in one offseason. I may be alone here, but I have high hopes he could turn into something special.

In 2017, Taco Charlton failed to start a single game for the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie. That's not really what you want from your first-round draft pick. To makes matters worse, in 16 games he only registered 25 total tackles, four QB sacks, two passes defensed, and one forced fumble. As you can imagine, it didn't sit well with most Cowboys fans.

Luckily, it looks as if Charlton's offseason in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program has paid off. Already in 2018 he has accumulated six total tackles, one QB sack, one pass defensed, and recovered a fumble. If he keeps this pace up, we could be looking at #97 reaching double-digit sacks this year.

Taco Charlton

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton

Now, I wouldn't call what Taco Charlton has accomplished so far this season dominating, but he is proving to be a starting quality DE along the Cowboys defensive line. It's a unit that has looked really good in the first two weeks of the season and is expected to be even better once Randy Gregory and David Irving are able to return to the field.

In the meantime, the Dallas Cowboys are happy to get plays like this from Taco Charlton.

Taco Charlton Eli Manning sack

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

This is a play Charlton is expected to make. He was left unblocked, but we've seen players left unblocked before not make the play. So, it may not be as impressive as some QB sacks. But, I'll take the routine tackle any day over someone trying to make a splash play and failing.

If you're looking for an impressive play from Taco Charlton, take a look at what he was able to do against Odell Beckham Jr. in the passing game.

Taco Charlton covering Odell Beckham Jr

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

In case you're wondering, that's Taco Charlton in OBJ's hip pocket 15 yards down the field in pass coverage. It looks as if that's where Eli Manning was wanting to go with the ball, but tight coverage by the Cowboys, and Charlton, across the board ended up resulting in a QB sack.

If you don't find that impressive, I don't know what will. A 275 pound DE covering arguably the best and highest paid wide receiver down the field is almost unheard of. I would count that as impressive.

What do you think of Taco Charlton's play so far in 2018?



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