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The Dallas Cowboys, after a tough opening-night loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have ripped off four consecutive victories to get to 4-1 and take a firm hold of the NFC East after five weeks.

They've done so with an explosive offense led by Dak Prescott that we expected to see before the season. It's dynamic, includes a lot of big plays, and they can run the ball with Ezekiel Elliott. But it's the defense that's the biggest story and the reason there are real Super Bowl hopes.

New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has taken a unit that was bad last season and has them taking the ball away and improving week by week. Even without top pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, who is out with a broken foot, the Cowboys continue to be an opportunistic defense. They have 10 interceptions, six by Defensive Player of the Year front-runner Trevon Diggs, after having 10 all of last season.

The Cowboys have a plus-7 in the takeaway/giveaway category, second best in the league, after being minus-3 last season. That shows how their new-look defense is impacting this team. The defense is also almost six points per game better than a year ago.

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That's not to say they are flawless. They still have issues, such as having only nine sacks for the season and ranking 25th in the league in yards allowed. But they are making progress, which is why they are up to No. 7 in the Power Rankings this week. 

The defense doesn't have to be dominant, not with the offense leading the league in yards and and scoring. With Prescott playing at an MVP level, the Cowboys are tough to stop. So the defensive progress really does make them a contender. 

When they get healthy on that side of the ball, look out. Quinn is a good coordinator who has this group of younger players growing each and every week. The Cowboys are legit again, and it's the defense that has them in the position of leading the NFC East and being a real Super Bowl threat. 

Biggest Movers
8 Titans
6 Football Team
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Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Cardinals Winning ugly the way they did against the 49ers says a lot about this team. The offense wasn't as crisp, but the defense bailed them out. They have a tough one at Cleveland this week. -- 6-0-0
2 Bills That victory at Kansas City sends a big message to the rest of the AFC. They showed that defense is legitimate and Josh Allen can light it up. 2 4-1-0
3 Packers They have won four straight games, but didn't look great against the Bengals. The injuries on defense are starting to be an issue. 1 5-1-0
4 Rams They dominated the Seahawks on the road, winning a key division game. Bouncing back after a tough loss the way they did is a good sign. 2 5-1-0
5 Chargers At 4-1, they lead the AFC West and look to be one of the best teams in the conference. Justin Herbert is the real deal. But the run defense has to be better going forward. 2 4-2-0
6 Buccaneers The offense came alive in a big way against Miami after two so-so games on the road. Tom Brady got back on track with five touchdown passes. 3 5-1-0
7 Cowboys The improvement on the defensive side of the ball has this team as a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Trevon Diggs has been outstanding at corner. 1 5-1-0
8 Ravens That was a special comeback by the Ravens on Monday night. Lamar Jackson has made huge strides as a passer. But that defense has issues. 2 5-1-0
9 Browns The defense, which was supposed to be much improved, is not. They have to be better on that side of the ball. 4 3-3-0
10 Titans They got back on track against Jacksonville after a bad loss to the Jets. Now comes a big Monday night game with the Bills. The defense needs to tighten up. 8 3-2-0
11 Saints They have been so up and down, but some of that is because of injuries. They head to their bye off a nice victory as Jameis Winston came up big against Washington. 6 3-2-0
12 Chiefs They are so bad on defense right now that even Patrick Mahomes can't bail them out. And he wasn't good against the Bills either. They have to turn it around quickly. 3 3-3-0
13 Bears The Bears are 3-2. Can you believe it? The defense came up big against the Raiders to give Justin Fields a road victory. 8 3-3-0
14 Raiders What will the Jon Gruden resignation do to this team? Do they rally around each other? After two straight losses, they have to hope that's the case. 3 4-2-0
15 Panthers Two straight losses has them reeling a bit. The offense didn't do much against the Eagles, which is a concern. They need Christian McCaffrey back. 3 3-3-0
16 Bengals They showed well against the Packers and had a real chance to win it. Now comes a trap game in Detroit with the Ravens awaiting them in Week 7. 3 4-2-0
17 Seahawks With Russell Wilson down for at least a month with a finger injury, they have issues. With their defense, Geno Smith is going to have to play big. 3 2-4-0
18 Broncos They were sluggish until late in the loss to the Steelers. They've lost two straight after a 3-0 start. Maybe the last two weeks is who they really are as a team. 3 3-3-0
19 49ers They saw both the good and the bad from Trey Lance last week. He isn't ready as a passer just yet, which is why they should go to Jimmy Garoppolo when he is healthy. 3 2-3-0
20 Eagles That was a tough, impressive road victory at Carolina. They made some big plays late to win it. Jalen Hurts rallied after a slow start. 7 2-4-0
21 Patriots They didn't look good against the Texans, but they found a way to win at Houston. Mac Jones made the plays when they were needed. Now they get a tough one against Dallas. 2 2-4-0
22 Vikings They are 2-3 and barely scraped out a victory over the Lions. The offense has lost its power the past two weeks. That has to change quickly. 1 3-3-0
23 Steelers They showed some fight in handling the Broncos the way they did Sunday. The defense dominated for much of the game. Could that be the game that gets them going? 5 3-3-0
24 Colts They blew a big lead in losing to the Ravens and might have blown their chances to win the division. The defense really let them down. 2 2-4-0
25 Falcons At 2-3, they head to their bye off a nice victory in England over the Jets. Matt Ryan has had a nice start to this season, even if the offense has been undermanned at times. 1 2-3-0
26 Football Team It's hard to believe we imagined a dominant defense in Washington. That unit isn't good right now and they face a must-win game this week against Kansas City. 6 2-4-0
27 Giants The injuries crippled them against the Cowboys. Now they could be without some key players going forward, including Saquon Barkley and maybe Daniel Jones. 2 1-5-0
28 Dolphins They head to London with a four-game losing streak. The heat has to be on Brian Flores, even without Tua Tagovailoa. The defense has been bad. 2 1-5-0
29 Texans Davis Mills showed well in the loss to the Patriots. That's a good sign for the future. Could he be their guy when Deshaun Watson is traded? -- 1-5-0
30 Jets The offense just isn't good enough right now. They have to get more from Zack Wilson from the pocket. -- 1-4-0
31 Lions They have lost some tough games, blowing a late lead to the Vikings on Sunday. Again, they are competing, which is a good sign for a first-year coach. -- 0-6-0
32 Jaguars So much for rallying around their embattled coach. They just don't have the players to compete for an entire game and the game-time decisions are lacking. The losing streak is now 20 games. Ouch. -- 1-5-0