SPORTS NFL Week 15 Power Rankings: Cowboys legitimate Super Bowl...

NFL Week 15 Power Rankings: Cowboys legitimate Super Bowl contenders; Browns make huge leap with Joe Flacco


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Ripping Mike McCarthy and Dak Prescott became a trendy thing to do in recent years — their inability to win big games in Dallas the focal point of it all.

The reality is McCarthy was always a better coach than given credit for by the social-media football cult. That’s showing up in a big way as he now calls plays for the 10-3 Cowboys, who are tied for the NFC East lead. The Cowboys beat up the Eagles, 33-13, on Sunday night in a game that saw them finally defeat a team with a winning record, proving many of the skeptics wrong and putting a lot of fan fears to rest.

McCarthy coached days after having an appendectomy, which shows his passion and toughness, the latter something most don’t know about him. But the biggest change about the Cowboys offense this season isn’t McCarthy’s play calling, but rather the guy who is making it all work.

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Prescott has been sensational, and might end up being the league MVP. He leads the NFL with 28 touchdown passes and has thrown 23 and just two picks since the Cowboys were blown out by the 49ers on Oct. 8. Dallas has won seven of eight in that span, and maybe it should have been eight of eight were it not for a few late-game mishaps in the loss to the Eagles in early November. 

When McCarthy took over as the play-caller this year, there was a lot of thinking that he would lead more of a run-heavy offense. When I talked to McCarthy about that at the league meetings last March, he flat out said that wasn’t going to be the case and laughed about it. Anybody who has followed McCarthy’s history knows that wouldn’t be his style, yet the narrative went viral. We now know any idea of the Cowboys being a run-heavy team has long been ditched. 

Early this season, the offense indeed looked disjointed. But then things changed. Prescott got into a zone as the line got healthy and receiver CeeDee Lamb emerged as a true star outside. The Cowboys are flying high as an offense right now. It all seems to be clicking.That blowout of the Eagles has Dallas up to No. 2 in my Power Rankings this week as it heads into a big game against the Buffalo Bills on the road. 

With an offense that can score and a pass rush that can make life hell for opposing quarterbacks when playing with the lead, the Cowboys are sitting pretty in terms of making a real Super Bowl push. 

The Cowboys still need the Eagles to lose at least one more to have a chance to win the division. But even if they are forced to go out on the road in the playoffs, they will be a team to watch as Prescott has more than shown this season that he is playing at an elite level.

McCarthy and Prescott are proving the doubters wrong. Of course when it comes to the Cowboys, none of this will matter if they lose in the playoffs. That’s part of being the Dallas Cowboys. 

Biggest Movers








They are cruising to the top seed in the NFC. It wasn’t pretty to start against Seattle, but they got it going in a big way. 10-3-0



They beat up the Eagles on Sunday night, but face another tough test on the road against the Bills this week. Dak Prescott is pushing hard for the MVP. 1 10-3-0



Finding a way to win games when you don’t play well is a sign of a good team. The Ravens did that against the Rams. The defense needs to tighten up, though. 2 10-3-0



They have issues on defense in a big way, which is why they are struggling the past few weeks. They still control their way to winning a division title. 2 10-3-0



That was an inexcusable showing against the Titans. There is no way they should blow a 14-point lead late. 1 9-4-0



The offense isn’t right. When they struggle to get to 20 points, it’s just not working. They might be heading out on the road for the playoffs. 8-5-0



They have big problems lately. The defense isn’t the same and the offensive line has led to poor play by Jared Goff. They need to turn it around quickly. 9-4-0



Joe Flacco has given the passing game some life. Who saw that coming? Can he keep it up? 9 8-5-0



Two straight losses has them forgetting any idea of having the top seed in the AFC. The defense has struggled mightily the past two weeks as they ready for the AFC’s top team in Baltimore this week. 1 8-5-0



They might have saved their season by beating the Chiefs on the road. Now comes a huge game with the Cowboys. The defense came up big against the Chiefs. 7-6-0



Losing on the road the Jets is hard enough to take, but they got beat up in that game. C.J. Stroud left with an injury, which bears watching. 2 7-6-0



By beating the Chargers on the road, they stay in the playoff hunt. Now they face a tough road game at Detroit, which is their third straight on the road. 7 7-6-0



Zac Taylor has done an outstanding job with this team. They have won two straight with Jake Browning to get back into the playoff race. 7 7-6-0



The winning streak ended by getting blown out by the Bengals. The defense let them down in that game. 3 7-6-0



The offense is so limited right now, but the defense got a shutout to beat the Raiders on Sunday. They can’t count on that every week. 3 7-6-0



Losing to the Giants was a hit to their playoff chances. Letting Tommy DeVito drive for a game-winning field goal is a bad look for the defense. 3 6-7-0



That was a tough loss to the Ravens, but they still have real playoff hopes. They have a soft three-week schedule coming up that makes it so. 3 6-7-0



Winning at Atlanta is a big one for the Bucs. They are now tied for the division lead and control their own fate to winning the division. 3 6-7-0



They have lost four straight games with the Eagles coming to town this week. Their playoff lives are teetering. 4 6-7-0



Losing at home to the Bucs is a hit to their division chances. Desmond Ridder made some big plays, but he also gave the Bucs 10 points with mistakes. 4 6-7-0



They are reeling right now. The offense isn’t good, but what has happened to the defense? 3 7-6-0



Blowing out the Panthers gets them tied for the division lead. The defense and special teams showed up big in the game, which is a good sign. 1 6-7-0



Justin Fields is playing much better and making the team’s decision about his future a tough one. Just keep him. 3 5-8-0



The early juice provided by Antonio Pierce has waned. They are all but done now. They can’t score enough — or at all against the Vikings. 5-8-0



They come off their bye with a tough game against the 49ers. They are playing for next year anyway. 3-10-0



They have their quarterback. Will Levis is going to be a really good one for the Titans, which he showed in rallying them from down 14 late to beat Miami. 1 5-8-0



Tommy DeVito is playing some good football. The Giants have won three straight with him as the starter. Amazing. 1 5-8-0



Zach Wilson looked good against the Texans, which begs this question: Why was he benched? He wasn’t worse than the replacements, that’s for sure. 1 5-8-0



It’s over. Justin Herbert broke a finger, their playoff hopes are done, and change is likely coming at the head-coaching spot. 7 5-8-0



The offense actually showed signs of life against the Steelers. Bailey Zappe showed improvement, which is progress. 1 3-10-0



They come off their bye with an eye on next season. Who will be the coach is the major question. 1 4-9-0



Are they starting to get worried about Bryce Young? They should be, especially with other rookie passers doing so much more. 1-12-0


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