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Mason's Power Rankings: Cowboys hit the top

Posted Nov 16, 2016

The Broncos moved up, putting three AFC West teams in the top six once again.

32. CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-10)

Last week: 32
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 28 - Defense: 30

Bad as they are, the scary part is that they're not getting closer to victory. And as the defeats accumulate, they will receive opponents' best shots as they fear being the team that loses to a winless club. Believe it or not, their best chance at a win could be this week against the reeling Steelers.

31. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (1-8)

Last week: 31
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 31 - Defense: 24

As with the Browns, you feel like this team is locked in its spot.

30. NEW YORK JETS (3-7)

Last week: 28
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 21 - Defense: 22

The Rams played the field-position game on the Jets in Bryce Petty's first start. It was a dull game that was forgotten by most observers as soon as it concluded.

29. CHICAGO BEARS (2-7)

Last week: 26
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 25 - Defense: 21

With a pick-six and a safety nearly canceling out their 10 points, the Bears offense posted a net point tally of one, a scoreline which only makes sense in the CFL. In that league, a single-point score is called a rouge, which is French for "red," as in red-faced, which the Bears should be after putting up such a piddling tally against a struggling defense.

28. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (2-7)

Last week: 30
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 14 - Defense: 15

The most disappointing part of compiling this week's rankings was learning that no one had set Blake Bortles' interception off T.J. Yeldon's foot to "Yakety Sax." Come on, Intergoogle, do your work. And the most baffling part of this week's rankings is the Jaguars somehow rising two spots despite losing. That's more a testament to the ineptitude of the Jets and Bears than anything that happened in Jacksonville.

27. LOS ANGELES RAMS (4-5)

Last week: 29
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 31 - Defense: 10

Los Angeles waited 21 seasons for the NFL to return and got a team that scored 10 points or fewer in five of its first nine games. No other team has more than two such games. No Tinseltown wait of at least a decade has resulted in more immediate disappointment since Star Wars: Episode I.

26. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (4-5)

Last week: 27
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 19 - Defense: 13

The Bucs are 3-1 on the road this season, including a season-opening win at Atlanta, so maybe there's hope for them in Kansas City this weekend.

25. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (4-5)

Last week: 25
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 9 - Defense: 31

Home games with the Titans and Steelers give the Colts a chance to gain some ground in the AFC South race.

24. CAROLINA PANTHERS (3-6)

Last week: 22
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 15 - Defense: 8

The crushing part for the Panthers is knowing that their own mistakes have brought this misery upon them.

23. CINCINNATI BENGALS (3-5-1)

Last week: 20
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 8 - Defense: 23

Caught in between the Supermoon and New York City somewhere in the north Jersey marshlands, the Bengals frittered away a chance to draw within a half-game of the Ravens. In almost any other season, they'd be nearly dead, but this is the year when the AFC North went south.

22. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (4-5)

Last week: 18
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 16 - Defense: 14

You live by the two-pointer; you die by the two-pointer. Pittsburgh went 0-for-4 on two-point conversions last Sunday.

21. MIAMI DOLPHINS (5-4)

Last week: 24
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 24 - Defense: 16

They have just two games remaining against teams with winning records. Both of those will be at home. They've definitely got a shot, even if their numbers have yet to catch up to their recent play (it's also testament to how bad they were during a 1-4 start).

20. GREEN BAY PACKERS (4-5)

Last week: 16
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 7 - Defense: 26

They're 9-12 since Nov. 1, 2015, when the Broncos knocked them from their unbeaten perch. The Packers just look stale, like old cheese pockmarked with clusters of mold.

19. BUFFALO BILLS (4-5)

Last week: 21
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 12 - Defense: 18

According to pro-football-reference.com, no team since at least 1940 has ever scored exactly 25 points three times in a season, let alone in three consecutive games, as the Bills have.

18. DETROIT LIONS (5-4)

Last week: 19
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 5 - Defense: 32

No team since at least 1940 has opened its season by playing nine consecutive games decided by seven or fewer points.

17. TENNESSEE TITANS (5-5)

Last week: 23
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 13 - Defense: 17

The term to describe Tennessee's offense is "Exotic Smashmouth." In addition to sounding like a bad cover band of a turn-of-the-century fad group, the term itself is a bit absurd, like Frank Costanza describing wearing a leisure suit as "creative black tie." But against the Packers, it was highly effective; the Titans ran 30 times, called 29 pass plays and racked up 446 yards.

16. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (4-5)

Last week: 13
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 3 - Defense: 28

Blocked kicks are all that separate the Saints from a 6-3 record.

15. ARIZONA CARDINALS (4-4-1)

Last week: 15
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 20 - Defense: 2

Two Carson Palmer interceptions would have doomed Arizona against plenty of other teams, but not the 49ers.

14. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (4-6)

Last week: 9
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 11 - Defense: 11

It's all about the turnovers -- and the Chargers have a league-worst 22. Theu have turned the football over at least three times in their last five defeats. In their four wins, they have just 1.2 turnovers per game.

13. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (5-4)

Last week: 17
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 18 - Defense: 4

A settled Carson Wentz was the difference against Atlanta: no interceptions and a 69.4 percent completion ratio on 36 attempts.

12. HOUSTON TEXANS (6-3)

Last week: 12
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 29 - Defense: 3

Defense picked up the slack for an offense that remained inconsistent.

11. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (5-4)

Last week: 7
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 27 - Defense: 5

They won't have Blair Walsh's errant kicks to blame any longer.

10. NEW YORK GIANTS (6-3)

Last week: 14
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 26 - Defense: 11

The Giants are the only team with a turnover margin worse than minus-5 that also has a winning record.

9. WASHINGTON REDSKINS (5-3-1)

Last week: 11
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 4 - Defense: 27

A three-game road swing of Dallas, Arizona and Philadelphia lurks around the corner, making their Sunday Night Footballduel with the Packers a must-win.

8. BALTIMORE RAVENS (5-4)

Last week: 10
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 30 - Defense: 1

Just five teams have been held to 200 or fewer yards this season. Baltimore's defense is responsible for two of them.

7. ATLANTA FALCONS (6-4)

Last week: 3
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 2 - Defense: 29

Only the Chiefs, who they face on Dec. 4, have a winning record among the teams left on Atlanta's schedule after their Week 11 bye.

6. DENVER BRONCOS (7-3)

Last week: 6
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 23 - Defense: 6

Takeaways -- of which there were four Sunday in New Orleans -- are vital to the Broncos' success equation.

5. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (7-2)

Last week: 5
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 22 - Defense: 9

A significant part of the Chiefs' success during their 17-2 regular-season run the last two seasons is the ability to win close games; the Chiefs are 9-1 in that span in games decided by eight or fewer points.

4. OAKLAND RAIDERS (7-2)

Last week: 4
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 10 - Defense: 19

Their Monday night game in Mexico City against the 6-3 Texans represents the best matchup in the NFL International Series to date.

3. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (6-2-1)

Last week: 6
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 12 - Defense: 3

C.J. Prosise's emergence gives balance to an offense that desperately needed it.

2. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (7-2)

Last week: 1
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 6 - Defense: 18

Their first outing without Jamie Collins saw them allow more than 400 yards and 30 points in the same game for the first time in 15 games.

1. DALLAS COWBOYS (8-1)

Last week: 2
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 1 - Defense: 20

Their offensive line and balance give their offense consistency; they haven't been held below 20 points since Week 1.

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