Shutdown Corner NFL Power Rankings: Dallas over Seattle ... right?

I'm going to ask a question, and be honest with your answer. All Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys fans can abstain because you're emotionally involved.

If you had to bet your 401(k) on the Seahawks or Cowboys winning the Super Bowl, who is your money going on? If you picked Dallas, that's fine, but you can move on to the rankings because you have no conflict in this issue. I also think you're in the minority.

I think if forced to make a pick, most impartial fans would pick the Seahawks, even though the Cowboys are 5-1, compared to 3-2 for the Seahawks, and just had a dominant 30-23 win at Seattle. Dallas beat Seattle despite some crucial special-teams mistakes. The win was not a fluke.

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Yet, do you believe? The Cowboys' defense was tied for second-most yards per play allowed this season heading into Monday night's game (Dallas was first in that category before Week 6). The Cowboys have won by sustaining drives with DeMarco Murray and limiting the defense's exposure, but Murray's 424-carry pace will not last. Or Murray won't last. And will the defense be exposed at some point? There's no reason to believe the Cowboys will fall apart, yet it's still hard to totally buy in.

What about the Seahawks? The defending champs are showing a few flaws, so can they overcome them? I discuss it here:

The Seahawks-Cowboys conundrum from above is key to doing these rankings. Not all head-to-head matchups provide a definitive answer on which team is better (or there would never be season splits among division rivals). Teams' records don't provide proof either because schedules are different (the Seahawks' schedule has been absolutely brutal so far). When the question comes down to, would you pick Team A or Team B on a neutral field, that's when it's tough. It definitely is when ranking the Cowboys and Seahawks this week.

So let's see where they land in the post-Week 6 power rankings:

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6, LW: 31)
They've been outscored by 104 points in six games. That's hard to do in the parity-driven NFL.

31. Oakland Raiders (0-5, Last Week: 32)
Two things to credit them for: They are playing hard, unlike Tampa Bay most weeks. And rookie Derek Carr looks like the right quarterback. After playing a very good team that well, I couldn't keep them in last place.

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5, LW: 26)
The two worst efforts in the NFL this season have come from the Buccaneers in the first six weeks: the debacle at Atlanta, and Sunday's blowout at home to Baltimore. You should never, ever be behind by 35 points in the first half of an NFL game, and the Buccaneers have done it twice before mid-October. Serious changes need to be made. And I know it's too early, but I wonder about Lovie Smith's future when his team has rolled over twice like that.

29. Washington Redskins (1-5, LW: 29)
Kirk Cousins has 18 interceptions after 13 career games (eight starts). Robert Griffin III has 17 interceptions in 30 career starts. Here's the nightmare for the Redskins: We've been discussing "RG3 or Cousins?" for a while (and the "Colt McCoy should start!" stuff is hilarious in a thousand ways), but what if the answer is "none of the above"? What if, after investing all they have into the quarterback position, the Redskins don't have one?

28. Tennessee Titans (2-4, LW: 30)
Any doubts that they weren't quite as bad as their last few games indicated were erased when they flailed around with the Jaguars at home most of the game. They were lucky not to lose at the end.

27. St. Louis Rams (1-4, LW: 28)
Don't know what to tell you. This isn't a well-coached team.

26. New York Jets (1-5, LW: 27)
The defense didn't play badly. They got good pressure on Peyton Manning and held that offense to 24 points. Hey, we're trying to keep it positive.

Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith (AP)
Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith (AP)

25. Atlanta Falcons (2-4, LW: 25)

Falcons coach Mike Smith after Sunday's game, via "Our young players, our old players have all contributed to this. And we have to get it fixed. And nothing is off the table in regards to what we have to do to be better." I can name someone else who hasn't been all that impressive this season, Mike. And I get the feeling making a change with him isn't off the table.

24. Minnesota Vikings (2-4, LW: 24)
Cordarrelle Patterson had three touches for 17 yards in a 17-3 loss. At some point, we can't keep blaming offensive coordinator Norv Turner. You have to assume he understands the situation and wants to get a player like that the ball. Maybe there's some blame for Patterson too? (One issue is Patterson is dealing with a hip injury and said he's not 100 percent.)

23. New York Giants (3-3, LW: 20)
Rashad Jennings' injury takes a dimension away from the offense that they need. And now Victor Cruz is done for the season. Not a good place to be.

22. Miami Dolphins (2-3, LW: 21)
You get the feeling coach Joe Philbin could have really used this win.

21. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3, LW: 19)
I know the Steelers never fire head coaches. But just because Chuck Noll was a Hall of Fame coach four decades ago shouldn't have anything to do with them taking a very hard look at Mike Tomlin and if this team is getting the most out of its talent.

20. Houston Texans (3-3, LW: 23)
Two more reasons J.J. Watt is your NFL MVP so far: A site for the Texans did a great breakdown of Colts offensive linemen holding, tripping and doing any number of illegal things to Watt, and they still couldn't stop him. Also, this graph from Brian Burke at Advanced NFL Stats says it all.

19. New Orleans Saints (2-3, LW: 18)
A team that has been scuffling a bit lost one of the league's best safeties, Jairus Byrd, and now might have to play for a week or two without one of the league's best tight ends, Jimmy Graham, who is dealing with a shoulder injury. Big challenge for Sean Payton.

18. Buffalo Bills (3-3, LW: 16)
Like the Cordarrelle Patterson situation, the Bills are well aware how many touches they give to C.J. Spiller. And at some point, you have to wonder what's wrong with Spiller that the Bills don't want to involve him more.

17. Kansas City Chiefs (2-3, LW: 15)
They're looking at 2-4 without an upset at San Diego this week. That's what happens when the schedule goes from unbelievably easy like it was last year to really difficult this season.

16. Chicago Bears (3-3, LW: 17)
With all the questions about DeMarco Murray's touches, what about Matt Forte? Forte is on pace for 387 touches. Forte has 46 catches, and Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall have 56 combined. Backup tailback Ka'Deem Carey has 22 touches compared to 145 for Forte. He's carrying an enormous load in the offense. Hard to imagine Forte can keep this pace up.

15. Cleveland Browns (3-2, LW: 22)
Another good problem this team has: Running back Terrance West was a healthy scratch. He has played pretty well. It's just that Ben Tate and fellow rookie Isaiah Crowell (wow, does he look good) are better options.

14. Carolina Panthers (3-2-1, LW: 13)
Pro Football Focus' top graded quarterback this season? Cam Newton. Don't worry, he'll still be in the mid-teens in next season's various quarterback ranking lists.

13. Detroit Lions (4-2, LW: 14)
I'm not jumping on board with Nick Fairley's claim the Lions defense can be the "best ever," but it's pretty darn good.

12. Baltimore Ravens (4-2, LW: 12)
Torrey Smith finally showed up to the 2014 season, with two touchdowns. The Ravens need that.

11. New England Patriots (4-2, LW: 11)
One of the things the Patriots did better the last two weeks was commit again to a power-running game. We'll see what happens next with top back Stevan Ridley out for the season.

10. San Francisco 49ers (4-2, LW: 10)
We can gripe about the mistakes Colin Kaepernick makes and the things he doesn't do, then he makes a ridiculous play like his third-quarter touchdown to Anquan Boldin on Monday night, and you're drawn right back in.

9. Green Bay Packers (4-2, LW: 8)
Aaron Rodgers has 15 touchdowns and one interception in six games. That's insane.

8. Arizona Cardinals (4-1, LW: 7)
After hearing reports that Carson Palmer didn't have much zip on his passes in practice last week, it was surprising to see him look as good as he did on Sunday. His shoulder will get better, too.

7. Indianapolis Colts (4-2, LW: 6)
Andrew Luck is on pace for 5,299 yards. Also kind of insane.

6. Cincinnati Bengals (3-1-1, LW: 3)
Cam Newton is an elite quarterback, and he's capable of games like that. Still, the Bengals giving up 37 at home? After the Patriots torched them the week before? Little concerning.

5. Seattle Seahawks (3-2, LW: 1)
Here's where it's tricky. I think the Seahawks are better than Dallas, and if I had to pick the better bet to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, it's Seattle. But the Cowboys earned that win; they clearly beat Seattle. And they deserve the higher spot.

4. Dallas Cowboys (5-1, LW: 9)
I assume most non-Cowboys fans are waiting for them to turn into a pumpkin. But the truth is, they've played like a clear top-five team so far this season.

3. Philadelphia Eagles (5-1, LW: 5)
If LeSean McCoy is finally out of his slump and plays like it's 2013 again, look out.

2. San Diego Chargers (5-1, LW: 4)
I don't dock them too much for Sunday's game. It's not all that easy to get up for a game against the Raiders, and they won. Take the W and move on. (Still, No. 2 seems a bit high for them, but I'm not sure who deserves it more.)

1. Denver Broncos (4-1, LW: 2)
Little strange that there has been no buzz about Peyton Manning winning another MVP. He has 1,530 yards, 15 touchdowns, three interceptions and a 110.5 quarterback rating.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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