The Cowboys cracked the top 10 in our NFL Power Rankings last week.
The even keel they've shown all season is paying off. I could envision moving them into the top six or seven spots heading into Week 17.
How high could you justify ranking them?
Seven of the 10 highest-ranked teams won in Week 16, with the fourth-ranked Vikings yet to play.
The top-ranked Colts will remain No. 1 on my ballot despite their first defeat of the season. They were leading the Jets when they decided to rest Peyton Manning for the playoffs. Their eventual defeat allows Indianapolis to enter the postseason unburdened by the historical weight of a potentially perfect season.
The second-ranked Saints were third on my ballot last week, trailing the Colts and third-ranked Chargers. New Orleans could drop further after losing for a second consecutive week.
I had the Colts, Chargers, Saints, Eagles and Cardinals as my top five teams, respectively, heading into Week 16.
The Vikings and Saints haven't looked right recently, but both should win the remainder of their games to clinch the top two spots in the NFC standings.
And now, on to the power rankings revisited ...
The reckoning: Six games featured lower-ranked teams defeating higher-ranked teams:
(30) Tampa Bay 20, (2) New Orleans 17 (OT): The Saints have 34 points in their last two games. They averaged 35.8 points per game previously.
(19) New York Jets 29, (1) Indianapolis 15: More evidence supporting Manning as MVP.
(21) Carolina 41, (12) New York Giants 9: The Panthers are tough when they do not suffer turnovers.
(28) Cleveland 23, (23) Oakland 9: Only 15 penalties against the Raiders (two were declined).
(20) Houston 27, (16) Miami 20: Fifty-five pass attempts for Chad Henne.
(15) Pittsburgh 23, (11) Baltimore 20: The first time since 1965 that Pittsburgh won while getting outrushed by at least 100 yards, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Still to play: (4) Minnesota at (25) Chicago on "Monday Night Football."
Defenseless: The Seahawks (48), Titans (42) and Giants (41) allowed a combined 131 points in Week 16.
No offense: The Jaguars (7), Lions (6), Bills (3) and Redskins (0) combined for 16 points, five fewer than what the Panthers scored in the second quarter against the Giants.
Home free: The Patriots became the only team with an 8-0 home record this season. Minnesota can match that mark by beating the Giants in Week 17. No other teams can finish 8-0 at home.
Road warriors: The Saints and Colts are each 7-0 on the road. San Diego is 7-1. Arizona is the only other team with more than five road victories this season.
My early favorite for the No. 1 spot: Indianapolis, again.