Cowboys are NFL's most underrated

Cowboys, Bengals, Texans being underrated by Power Rankings committee

Originally Published: October 18, 2011
By Chris Sprow | ESPN Insider
Tony RomoTim Heitman/US PresswireThe Dallas Cowboys have played better than their record indicates this season.

Looking at the Power Rankings very early Tuesday morning -- red-eye flight early -- the first debatable team seemed obvious: the Oakland Raiders, sitting there at No. 9 with a quarterback depth chart starting with Kyle Boller and ending with Terrelle Pryor. That's one guy you prefer never to see with a helmet on and another you'd rather have catching passes. In one play this weekend, the Raiders went from a pretty good team with a passable quarterback situation to a pretty good team openly trying to woo David Garrard.

Well, things change, Mox. Things change.

With Carson Palmer now the presumed quarterback of the near future in Oakland, I checked around on the numbers side to see whether that No. 9 ranking should hold up for the short run. The projection analysts liked the move for Oakland. According to one model AccuScore sent over, an off-the-couch Palmer wasn't just better than Boller (a 20 percent boost to playoff odds) but better than a healthy Campbell. And the guys setting odds at the Vegas Hilton emailed to say that, with Palmer, they'd shift the Oakland Super Bowl odds up from 40-1 to 30-1.


Dallas Cowboys

Power Rankings slot: 21
Win projection average: 8.6
Super Bowl odds: 30-1

They might be a tease, but there's simply no way there are 20 NFL teams better than Dallas. Three times now, they've carried a fourth-quarter lead against a good team and found a way to lose. Vegas agrees, with the Cowboys safely midpack and only 11 teams with a higher win projection average. The problem with this slot is even more basic: If the Cowboys are No. 21, how does the committee have New England No. 2? If the league's 29th-ranked rushing team can figure that concept out at all, they're dangerous.

To read more about which three teams are overrated and underrated, plus teams to watch, you must be an ESPN Insider.